The poster for the upcoming Summer Solstice Festival at Diamond M Ranch and Resort is seen here. (Blair Martin/Diamond M Ranch and Resort)

The poster for the upcoming Summer Solstice Festival at Diamond M Ranch and Resort is seen here. (Blair Martin/Diamond M Ranch and Resort)

Solstice at the ranch

Diamond M hosts annual summer festival

The Diamond M Ranch and Resort will kick off summer this weekend with its annual Summer Solstice Festival.

Blair Martin, owner of the Kalifornsky Beach ranch, told the Clarion on Wednesday that the decision to hold the festival amid the COVID-19 pandemic was not made lightly, but he thinks that the time is right.

“I’ve had a lot going through my mind,” Martin said. “It’s a hard balance between caring about people’s concerns and trying to get back to normal.”

The festival comes at a good time for Martin’s Ranch and Resort, which has lost most of its summer business due to the pandemic. Martin said that most of the people who stay at the ranch come from outside the state. Because the state is requiring people to either get tested for COVID-19 before they arrive in Alaska or quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, his customers aren’t coming this year.

“No one wants to come to Alaska and sit on their thumbs for two weeks,” Martin said. “So we’re just calling this season a loss.”

Diamond M Ranch holds a summer solstice festival every year. Martin said that his late father, Carrol, was always an integral part of the event. Carrol died this past March, so Martin said the first portion of this year’s festival will be a celebration of life for his father.

“It was his passion as a farmer and educator to bring those two worlds together,” Martin said of his father. “The summer solstice has always been a big part of that.”

The memorial service for Carrol Martin will begin at noon on Saturday. Blair said friends of his father are welcome to come pay their respects and share a few stories of his life.

Starting at 2 p.m., musicians and comedians will hit the stage in rotation until midnight. The lineup will include local musicians like Mike Morgan as well as larger acts like Jamie Floyd and Wylie Gustafson.

Beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday, Peninsula Grace Brethren church will sponsor the second half of the festival with a church service at the ranch followed by music at noon to celebrate Father’s Day, which falls on that day.

When it comes to social distancing measures, Martin said that the ranch wouldn’t be doing any “enforcement” or “coercion” of guests during the event, instead relying on people to make their own decisions.

“I think we can trust the individual to be on guard,” Martin said. “If guests want to wear masks then people will respect their space, and I imagine there will be some natural self-limiting.”

Ticket sales have been slow so far, Martin said, but he is prepared for as many as 1,500 people to show up this weekend. The tickets can be purchased the day of the event. Pricing is based on a pay-what-you-can donation system. Proceeds from the event will go toward supporting Matti’s Ranch, a program at Diamond M Ranch that teaches kids in the foster care system how to work with farm animals.

For more information on the event, visit the Matti’s Farm Facebook page.

Diamond M Ranch and Resort is located on Kalifornsky Beach Road across from the KSRM Radio Station.

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at bmazurek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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