KERNVILLE, Calif. — Volunteers and Kern County Parks employees teamed up today to help clear out the land that makes up the Whiskey Flat Encampment, which was severely damaged by floods during the storms last year in Kernville.
“For the area we're standing in right now, it was devastated last year back in March by what we call it the 100 year flood event,”said Gary Ananian, Director of the Kern River Conservancy, who helped organize the day's cleanup with the Kernville Chamber of Commerce.
“This entire area that we're studying was pretty much like a lake at one point.”
The flooding from the North Fork of the Kern River deposited massive amounts of debris, rocks and dirt into the area where the Whiskey Flat Encampment is held.
“We have a bunch of volunteers that are working,” said Ananian, adding that Kern County provided machinery and employees to help with the effort.
“We got the loaders out here, we got back hoes here, we have chippers out here.”
Starting early the volunteers were cleaning brush, sawing and moving wood in a pile. Kern County Parks employees used machinery to deal with larger pieces of debris.
Residents from all over the Kern River Valley volunteered their time and energy.
“We like to give back and whatever we can do to help we're here to do it,” said volunteer Victoria D’Amico.
“My family, my grandsons really enjoyed the encampment when they came, so much that they spent five hours here and I wanted to be part of it because hopefully they'll be coming back again this year,” said volunteer Marianne Fountain.
“Just love to see our town come back alive. It's all about the wild west history up here in Kernville,” said volunteer Victoria Stone.
“Oh man, it's come a long way. This place was completely trashed. They actually got some of the dirt from the brewery across the street in order to put this back together and level it out,” Stone said.
Those working also restored the small amount of infrastructure on the grounds, like stairs and pillars with concrete bases.
Whiskey Flat was named for the settlement in the area in the 19th century. The encampment recreates the settlement with reenactors taking on the roles of people who would've lived in the settlement during that time.
“Miners, blacksmiths and the Native Americans and all kinds of people in period clothing doing what they would have done back in those days,” Stone said,
Despite the challenges the encampment has faced this year. The Kernville Chamber of Commerce has vowed to put it on.
“I think it’s very worth while to keep our history alive. From generation to generation,” said Fountain, “We enjoyed it. I'm used to hard work.”
Whiskey Flat Days will take place from February 16-19. You can find their website here.
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