The 32nd Annual Gathering at the Snyder Family Ranch near Valley Springs, California
by Del & Stacie Albright
What do you get when you mix wonderful spring weather with Native American ceremonial dancing, rocks, crafts, gems, music, and food; and then throw in some down home fun? You get the Annual Snyder's Valley Springs Powwow. 2006 marked the 32nd year for the Pow Wow, as the locals call it. It's a road trip worth taking.
Valley Springs is a growing rural town located in Calaveras County of northern California, about 60 miles southeast of Sacramento. Main highways 26 and 12 get you there from State Highway 99 or Interstate 5, and signs easily point the way to the Powwow once you're near Valley Springs. The event is held on the first full weekend of May on a working cattle ranch. Some participants estimated 15,000 to 20,000 happy faces at this year's Powwow, along with well over 200 vendors.
Admission is free and so is the ample parking. If you choose to stay to enjoy the whole weekend, camping is $10.00 per night and there's plenty of room for RV's and tents in the open fields of the cattle ranch, and the calm atmosphere is truly relaxing.
According to Betty Snyder: "One Sunday morning in April 1975, John and I were awakened by a gentleman knocking on the door of our ranch home. The man explained that he was part of a rock hound club that had planned to visit Valley Springs Moss Agate, but that the trip had been cancelled. Would it be possible, he asked, for the members of the club to go "rock hounding" on the Snyder Ranch?"
Over the last 30 years the ranch has continued to invite "rock hounds" every May. Expanding to gems, jewelry, silver-smithing, fossils, and many more of our earth's treasures has helped the Powwow grow enormously.
This year the authors spent two days trying to see and enjoy everything at the Powwow. We camped out in the cattle fields nearby and had a marvelous time watching the crowds partake in the festivities. We used our RV, but we also saw tents under some of the ranch oak trees.
Jessica, our five-year-old, was fascinated by the variety of colors, shapes and feel of the rocks. She even captured a few digital images of the pretty ones. Malachite from Africa and petrified sea shells from Malaysia were two of her favorites. The Powwow is truly kid friendly, and letting them learn about rocks and minerals is about as harmless a hobby as we can think of. Jessica even had her own magnifying glass so she could inspect every rock within her reach!
Plan a road trip to see the Pow Wow. It's a ton of fun. The entire Snyder family invites you to the next Annual Snyder's Valley Springs Powwow!"