SPRINGVILLE — Build it and they will come.

While Saturday’s Foothills Festival at River Ridge just above Springville on Balch Park Road was open to the Springville community and the surrounding area, it was also a celebration to recognize what the place has become thanks to the hard work of many people.

“I think we’ve got a place that’s beyond what we could imagine,” said Gary Adest, who along with wife Barbara Brydolf, took over River Ridge Ranch about 30 years ago. “We’ve gone on with the help of many, many organizations and people, many of who are here today.”

Brydolf also agreed with her husband she couldn’t imagine what the place has become but also agreed with her husband the work never stops.

“I think we’ve made some progress,” Brydolf said. “This is really Gary’s brainchild. I was the support. None of this would have happened. Gary did all this.

“Our goal was the educate people about the area and its beauty and preserve it. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. I’m pleased.”

About the work continuing, Brydolf said “There is no finish. We’ll die first.”

“As long as the water flows and the plants grow, the work never ends,” Adest said.

Adest said the name Foothills Festival for the event to show what River Ridge is about isn’t all that common. “I googled Foothills Festival and there was one other one in the nation.”

 The event featured the California Native Plant Society Alta Peak Chapter which was selling plants and also had master gardners available to answer questions.

The Eat Pyles String Band provided bluegrass music for entertainment as did the versatile band South 65 which played a number of classic hits. Route 65 Grill provided the food.

The Tulare County Audubon Society led bird watching and there was leaf printing, a photo booth and a chance to walk along the River’s Edge Labyrinth. There was also a scavenger hunt, which provided a first prize of $100.

Among the other sponsors was the Walmart Distribution Center. In addition there were plenty of vendors with arts, crafts and paintings.

Among those vendors was Farmersville Junior High language arts teacher Julie McIntosh, who lives a “couple doors” down from River Ridge. She had caps and scarves on display and was demonstrating how she spins what she makes. 

McIntosh is a member of Handweavers of the Valley and taught herself to knit and weave what she makes.

“I just go interested in some things that I saw and I wanted to see if I could make that,” said McIntosh, who added she’s being doing it now for 17 years. “I started teaching myself how to do it.

“I love being at this facility. It’s just beautiful.”

Constance Leshin came from Santa Paula to the Foothills Festival and said she joined family from Santa Cruz.

“We all just get together to sepnd a delightful day for a great purpose to educate and serve,” Leshin said. “I think it’s a fabulous event. I think it’s a real fun, educational way to spend the day.”

Leshin also praised Adest for what he has done. ‘What I really appreciate Gary has done, he has actually done this endeavor to help other people make a living. He employs people for their benefit. I think that’s really important.”

Leshin also said it’s been rewarding “just watching this go from nothing to what it is now.”

Sitting with Adest during Saturday’s Foothills Festival was Cal State Long Beach geography professor Scott Winslow.

Winslow has his students spend time at River Ridge and actually had one of his students at River Ridge during this past weekend. Among other universities that use River Ridge for a place of instruction is UC Riverside.

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