Before the art galleries and cafes, before the bookstores and the shops, Point Reyes Station was farmland, far as the eye could see. Even before the ranchers and settlers found their way to the peninsula, Native American tribes managed the land for thousands of years. Once the railroad reached the west coast, cattle and dairy farming came with it, and today the region is still a food producer.
This weekend, the town celebrates that tradition of agriculture with the annual Western Weekend. More than just a day on the farm, the long-running weekend features two-and-a-half days of community events, live music, and lots of food on Saturday and Sunday, Jun 1-2.
“I gauge my year by Western Weekend,” says West Marin resident and actor, comedian and musician Stephen Horvat. “It’s when everybody is coming out of hibernation and it’s a chance to see everybody you haven’t seen in awhile and get ready for summer.”
Western Weekend is centered around Toby’s Feed Barn and Gallery as well as several other venues along the main drag. Saturday’s fiesta opens with the 4H Fair, in which Marin, Sonoma, and Napa 4-H members exhibit their project work and participate in competitions. Then, ¡Cantemos Juntos! and the Point Reyes Children’s Choir perform together before a massive Mexican dinner and the traditional barn dance.
Once the sun goes down on Saturday night, the action heats up at the Old Western Saloon when Horvat and his band of West Marin outlaw country compadres The Haggards headline a raucous affair.
“The Haggards have the tradition of playing at the Old Western Saloon on Saturday night and it’s usually the craziest show of the year,” says Danny Vitali, who co-formed the band with Horvat, Dylan Squires and Gene Fisher.
First formed as a satirical country band, the Haggards were born in the saloon and they pack the venue each time they take the stage. For this weekend’s show, the group is also planning on recording the set for a live album.
“There’s a lot of audience participation, jokes and skits, and strange and irreverent Haggards-style rock ‘n’ roll,” says Vitali of the show.
Aside from the concert, Vitali and Horvat use Western Weekend to celebrate the locals and the diverse community that has formed in Point Reyes Station.
“I’ll never forget the first time I went and was wowed by the awesome mix of Point Reyes cultures getting together,” says Vitali. “There’s a lot of Western wear, there’s animals in the parade, there’s Straus ice cream getting handed out. It’s really fun.”
Sunday opens with a morning yoga session before the noon parade that starts at Toby’s Feed Barn. Locals can also enjoy Marin County Farm Bureau’s fundraising barbecue, chili cook-off and nonprofit exposition.
“There’s a sense of the Old West,” says Horvat of the weekend. “But, all different types of people can lay their claim to the town for a little while. It’s packed and lively and full of locals ready to have a good time.”