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Rim Fire Forces Cancellation of Strawberry Music Festival

  08/24/13 16:58, by , Categories: Music News , Tags: bluegrass, giant sequoias, gov_ jerry brown, hetch hetchy, rim fire, san francisco, strawberry music festival, yosemite

The Rim fire near Yosemite has forced the cancellation of the Strawberry Music Festival, an annual bluegrass gathering in Camp Mather that has attracted thousands of music lovers to the edge of Yosemite annually since 1982. They posted the following announcement on their facebook page and website:

We just received the official word from Tuolumne County Community Resources Agency and the Board of Supervisors County of Tuolumne:

“Due to the ongoing State of Emergency and the potential adverse effects of the wildfire on public health, safety and welfare, the County of Tuolumne cannot allow the Strawberry Music Festival to occur at the site as originally permitted on the dates of August 29 through September 2, 2013.”

Click through for more on the fire’s effect

The Strawberry Music Festival was expected to attract more than 4,000 festival-goers this year. It was an annual anchor event for many entertainers and some have had to cancel west coast tours as a result of the cancellation.

Headliners this year included the Mavericks, Patty Griffin and Oakdale’s Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit. Many audience members camp and participate in jam sessions throughout the weekend. According to a timeline posted on the Strawberry Music Festival website, fire has postponed the festival at least twice in its three-decade history, in 1987 and 1996.

The Rim fire continued to spread into Yosemite National Park on Saturday, burning more than 125,000 acres and threatening the power supply of San Francisco.

The fire was edging toward communities of Groveland, Pine Mountain Lake and Buck Meadows. Officials ordered parts of Groveland evacuated Friday afternoon.

The Rim fire, which is only 5% contained, destroyed nine structures and is threatening 4,500 more, according to a recent update by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon saying in a resolution that the fire is “now directly threatening various communities and businesses within the County and is beyond our capabilities.”

More than 2,600 firefighters and a half dozen aircraft are battling the blaze.

The fire is burning toward the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, where San Francisco gets 85 percent of its water and power for municipal buildings, the international airport and San Francisco General Hospital. Officials are running continuous tests on water quality in the reservoir. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency to include the city and county of San Francisco because of a threat to utilities.

As the wildfire raged along the northwest edge of Yosemite National Park, officials cleared brush and set sprinklers to protect two groves of giant sequoias. About three dozen of the giant trees are affected in the Tuolumne and Merced groves. 

“All of the plants and trees in Yosemite are important, but the giant sequoias are incredibly important both for what they are and as symbols of the National Park System,” said spokesman Scott Gediman. The trees grow naturally only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and are among the largest and oldest living things on earth.

There is no word yet on whether or when the Strawberry Music Festival will be rescheduled.

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