50 years ago, on March 27, 1973, Farm Trails was founded by Sonoma County Farm Advisor John Smith and local farmers who were eager to connect consumers directly to their wonderful agricultural products and the beauty of the county. They had a vision for an organization that would showcase those products and the agricultural way of life they loved. Below is how the founders described the new organization back in 1973:
Thanks to Farm Trails and its mission to keep “farms forever” in Sonoma County for the past 50 years, today’s visitors to this lovely corner of the world can still experience all the farm to table goodness and friendly people the founding members described.
Not long after the creation of Farm Trails, in August of ’73, the first Gravenstein Apple Fair launched as the primary fundraiser for the organization, and a revered North Bay tradition began.
The 1973 Fair was a nod to the Apple Show which took place in Sonoma County in the aughts and teens of the 20th century.
Join us for our Golden Jubilee Party on August 12-13 at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol!
A 50-year anniversary is a big deal. It’s the golden anniversary after all! So, this year’s Fair will be even bigger and better than ever (a tough goal to achieve!). Of course, guests will experience the same great food, libations, and down-home fun the Fair is known for, but they’ll also have the opportunity to attend the biggest party in the Fair’s 50-year history. To celebrate a half-century of an event focused on our local heritage apple, we thought we’d share some of the history and all the fun from the last 50-years of the “sweetest little Fair in Sonoma County.”
Things were quite different (and very groovy) in the 1970s when Farm Trails and the Fair were created. How different? Put yourself in “The Wayback Machine” and think back to a long time ago – 50 years to be exact. Many of you weren’t around yet so can’t imagine what life was like before the internet, mobile phones, and Tik Tok. Check with your parents, or maybe even your grandparents (yikes!). In 1973…
“All in the Family” was the number one show on television. There were only three major networks + PBS. Streaming didn’t exist.
“Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn was the number one song nationally.
According to KFRC (on the AM dial!) – the biggest Top 40 station in the Bay Area at the time – Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” was the number one song locally. Back then, if you wanted to hear the “hits” you listened to Top 40 radio stations and hoped to catch your favorites on rotation. Nope, no Spotify or Pandora.
The Chevy Monte Carlo was the best-selling car in the US. With a beefy V8, the car got 7.1 MPG. Gas prices averaged .39/gallon across the country.
Sonoma County Population
Sonoma County was a lot sleepier than it is today, with less than half the number of residents.
- Sonoma County population in 1973 – 221,423
- Sonoma County population in 2022 = 495,376
The county may have been sleepier, but much like today, its beauty attracted artisans and artists alike. The famous Christo 24.5-mile art installation “Running Fence” that documented the intersection of urban, suburban, and rural spaces, was in the process of being installed in 1973, completing in 1976. As always, Farm Trails members were central to anything noteworthy that happened in Sonoma County. Ed Pozzi, an original Farm Trails member, agreed to have part of this groundbreaking work cross his family’s ranchland back in the early ‘70s.
Sonoma County Apple Production
Apples were a significant part of the county’s agricultural production.
- According to the 1973 crop report, Sonoma County had 4144 acres of apples with Gravensteins being the biggest apple crop in the county.
- As of the 2021 crop report, ~2200 acres were planted with apple orchards.
Gravenstein Apple Fair – Still Fun. Still Sweet. Still a Celebration of Agriculture in Sonoma County
Times may have changed but the mission of Sonoma County Farm Trails – to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County – hasn’t. Join us at this year’s Gravenstein Apple Fair on August 12-13 at Ragle Ranch Park, where you’ll experience 50 years of the joy of agriculture and apples!
And be sure to email us your favorite Gravenstein Apple Fair memories at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’ll use them in future blog posts.