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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Explore the nooks and crannies of Yolo County this summer

As summer seeps into Davis, almost the entire campus population is gearing up to head home and not come back until September. But what about the ones who are sticking around, working in the area and looking for things to do during the summer in Yolo County?

There are so many nooks and crannies in the area offering one-of-a-kind entertainment, especially during the summer. More importantly, the history of Yolo County is so intertwined with these activities that one is also bound to learn something new while having fun.

For starters, the Sacramento River Train has been conducting murder mysteries, romantic sunset dinners, relaxed Sunday brunches and the old west Great Train Robberies since 2005.

“A train is a great venue for a Murder Mystery show,” said Chris Hart, president of the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train. “The show is a fun, sometimes over-the-top whodunnit where you try to figure out who killed who.  And while this fun show takes place in your car, you are served a delicious three-course dinner while you ride through the countryside.”

The Great Train Robbery is another classic show.

“The trip features a trip back to the old west with sheriffs and bandits,” Hart said. “There is usually a lot of action around Robber’s Roost so keep your head down!  The train stops at a park along the Sacramento River where an [old-fashioned] barbecue lunch is served.”

The Sierra Railroad has just recently added some new trips to the Sacramento River Train’s summer schedule such as the Sunset Happy Hour Trips and the Graduate Train, which is on June 9. All new graduates ride the train for free.

To learn more about the Sacramento River Train, go to www.sacramentorivertrain.com.

Another Yolo County attraction is the Barnyard Theatre.The 120-year-old Schmeiser barn is located off County Road 31 between Davis and Winters. During the summer, the barn is completely renovated by the Barnard Theatre production team. The barn becomes a theatre, hosting plays for the Yolo County Community as well as workshops for next year’s play. This year’s play will be Psyche by Meghan Brown.

“There’s the excitement of theatre, the excitement of seeing new theatre, the elaborate production itself; then there’s the strangeness of seeing theatre in a barn, then there’s whatever it is to be out in the country,” said Briandaniel Oglesby, the literary manager of Barnyard Theatre and organizer of the Nights of New Plays Festival (NNPF).

Besides attracting audiences for a unique showing of an original play, Barnyard Theatre also welcomes people who have a passion for theatre to attend the NNPF workshops.

“NNPF pieces may be written by emerging or professional playwrights, Barnyard folks, UC Davis students or other members of the community,” Oglesby said. “Artistically, I believe that it’s important to develop and celebrate new work. I find original work by living playwrights exciting. We’ve built a playwright-centered workshop model over the years. Last year, we workshopped Psyche during the NNPF, and the results are a phenomenal script and excellent relationship with the playwright.”

To learn more about the Barnyard Theatre, visit  www.barnyardtheatre.org.

Last but not least is the Yolo County Basin Foundation’s Bat Talk and Walk 2012.

Every summer, a little more than a quarter million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats sleep under the three-mile-long Yolo Causeway during the day, flying out in great colonies during every summer sunset.

It is possible to watch the bats fly out around the west end of the bridge on your own accord. But the Bat Talk and Walk provides a 45-minute indoor presentation on the local history of bats as well as an offroad tour to see the 250,000 bats that fly out at the east end of the bridge. Yolo Basin asks for a $10 donation for adults age 16 and over.

“All the live bats that we show at the indoor presentation come through the wildlife rescue,” said Corky Quirk, the Yolo Basin Foundation’s education associate and founder of Norcal Bats. “The presentation helps people to understand the importance of these animals for the ecosystem, and watching their movements and interactions kind of helps to get rid of those preconceived notions that are produced by big Hollywood movies.”

To learn more about the Bat Talk and Walk, visit www.yolobasin.org.

DOMINICK COSTABILE can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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