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Event History



The Solar Cook-Off and Music Festival began in 1992 as the brainchild of Bill and Melanie Rockett, longtime Plumas County locals and the owners of BlackHawk Solar. The event had a few iterations - it started in Genesee, California at the Genesee Store, moved to the Taylorsville Rodeo grounds, and eventually landed at the Taylorsville Campground, where it steadily grew for just over 20 years. The idea for the event began after Rockett took a solar cooking class in Los Angeles in the 1980s. He bought a solar oven and then started carrying solar ovens in his business. When he heard about solar potlucks in New Mexico, he decided to bring the concept to Plumas County. 


The focus of the event was never about a structured cook-off as much as it was about music and community, with central components being dancing, good music, and a good time. Cooking in solar ovens was encouraged but never a structured activity of the event. 


After a 20-year run, Bill and Mel Rocket decided to retire the event. 10(ish) years later, the Sierra Institute is reimagining this classic festival and bringing it back to Taylorsville, California as ForestFest!

2021 and Beyond

The Sierra Institute's mission and vision for ForestFest hold the same essential pieces of the Solar Cook-Off of late - good music, good food, good people, and a great time in the beautiful High Sierra Mountains of Northern California. We are still encouraging festival-goers to bring their store-bought or homemade solar ovens to cook their own delicious meals in an unstructured manner. 


As before, ForestFest will have live music in two locations: the green of the Taylorsville Campground, and in the Historic Taylorsville Hall with its iconic and historic bouncing dance floor that is always a guaranteed good time. 


ForestFest kicks off Friday, August 27 in the Historic Hall with music starting at 7pm. On Saturday, live music begins at 10am at the Taylorsville Campground, with multiple food vendors, craft merchants, and a kids corner hosted by Quircus, the Quincy Circus Group. ForestFest ends with a bang Saturday night at the Historic Hall with music starting at 8:30 and ending when we're all danced out. There are three separate tickets: Friday night at the Historic Hall, Saturday at the Campground, and Saturday night at the Historic Hall.


The proceeds from ForestFest will support Sierra Institute's work in forest restoration, wildfire mitigation, and community development in California's Sierra Nevada region! 

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