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News.bytesNews.bytes Extra, issue 352

Rails to Trails Festival 2008 celebrates Bizz Johnson Trail

Spicy chili, railroad handcar rides and classic bluegrass music made for a lively weekend in Susanville Oct. 4 and 5, as the community celebrated its Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail with the annual Rails to Trails Festival.  Events were held at the historic Susanville Railroad Depot, a trailhead and visitor center managed jointly by the Lassen Land and Trails Trust, Bureau of Land Management, Lassen County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Susanville.

A community chili cookoff was a big draw for the event.

Businesses and organizations came up with some unique names for their creations, such as Chamber Pot Chili and Susan Roop (namesake for the town) salsa:
A hand-lettered sign advertised the "Chamber Pot Chili" and salsa at a booth
A contestant stirs a big pan of her chili

Once tempted by a simmering pot of chili, it was time for the cooks to hand out samples for the all important tasting in the "people's choice" award:
Handing off a sample of chili during the contest judging

A competitor applauds as a chili taster casts his vote in the "people's choice" competition:
A competitor applauds at the contest voting

The Rails to Trails Festival celebrates Susanville's railroading history and the conversion of the Fernley and Lassen Railroad into the Bizz Johnson Trail.  Handcars are always prominent with groups taking turns pumping a handcar past the old depot:
A helmeted group pumps an old yellow handcar past the old Susanville Depot

Children found a parked handcar (a model modified for street use) a great place to hang out:
Children hang out on a handcar

Festival goers also enjoyed a farmer's market (a regular Saturday morning event at the Depot):
Customers browse the tree fruit selection at the farmer's market

Featured entertainers were the Sawtooth Mountain Boys, a classic bluegrass group from Western Oregon.  Below, they pick out a tune as soft mid-afternoon light fills the lobby of the restored Depot:
The four musicians in blue jeans and cowboy hats pick out a tune on stringed instruments

The festival was rounded out Sunday morning with Bizz Johnson Trail mountain bike rides.

- J. Fontana, 10/7/08

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 352

Last updated: 10-08-2008