Howdy in the Hills

I'm never clear on the syntax in this long-time festival's evocative and colorful name, but for 37 years, locals and local wannabes have shown up in this rustic canyon community to celebrate Silverado country, or a country fair, or both. “Country” is the theme: girls in gingham, dress-up cowboys with cap rifles, real Indians with politics, requisite faux jail, live old-time and rock N roll and blues, trans-fat fried food arranged on barrels and checkered tablecloths, and sawdust on the ground. But “Silverado country” is, in fact, a real place, if also a state of mind. This neighborhood/lifestyle of small canyon enclaves supports a couple of modest country stores, a post office, a community center, child-care center, two tiny public schools, volunteer fire houses, stables and a charming local newsletter called, unshyly, Howdy, Silverado!—with not a sidewalk, retail chain or community association in sight.

Locals who dwell here among the oaks and sycamores elevate what might in other parts of our country—er, county—seem a Disneyesque exercise in lowest-civic-common-denominator fun. Maybe that's because the volunteers, vendors, pie bakers, musicians and activists who organize this annual festival seem to really like one another the rest of the year. Or maybe because everybody looks so darn good in bolo ties, tie-die and frilly dresses. Or perhaps because local arts and crafts on display—painting, ceramics, quilts—is genuinely fine. Whichever, this two-day homemade wingding in the hills is the real deal. Proceeds from the fair, art show and live music benefit local children's charities and another down-home local gathering spot, the Silverado branch library.

Silverado Country Fair at Silverado Community Center, 27641 Silverado Canyon Rd., Silverado, (714) 649-2411; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $4. Saturday Night Live Music Festival, Sat., 5-10 p.m. $5.

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