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Willits, Mendocino County: dine with cowboys

Cowboy Daniel Arkelian invites you to visit the Ford Ranch.

Photo by Ree Slocum
Cowboy Daniel Arkelian invites you to visit the Ford Ranch. Photo by Ree Slocum

Want to visit traditional ranches and meet authentic cowboys and other ranch hands? There’s a Heritage Ranch Tour in Willits Saturday, May 15, 10 A-2P. Giddyap for a good time!

Round-up time at the Ford Ranch in Willits.  Tour the ranch and enjoy lunch afterwards.
Ree Slocum

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This is not Hollywood. This is the real thing. The Heritage Ranch Tour invites you to tour two of the region’s local meat producing ranches.

You’ll learn about the heart of operations at both the Ford and Schmidbauer ranches from the ranchers themselves and from historian Dot Brovarney of Landcestry Services.

They will share exciting stories with you about early ranch life in Willits and tell you about the lives of ranchers today.

After your tour, your $20 ticket also entitles you to a lunch with Ford beef and Schmidbauer lamb on the patio at the Mendocino County Museum. The museum is at 400 E. Commercial St., just three blocks off Main St. (Highway 101) at the north end of Willits.

Meats have been donated by the ranches, freshly prepared by Bobbie Yokum and Dorothy Roediger from Roots of Motive Power.  Elegant dessert by Kathryn Sterngold of Sugar-Kat Kitchen. 

You will also have a chance to tour of a 1950’s Western-style railroad cafe car. Take a few minutes while you're there to explore the Museum and the Roots of Motive Power Restoration Yard. 

Tickets are limited, and visitors to Mendocino County are welcome. Advance reservations are required for this price. At the door they will be $25 -- and subject to availability.   Children under 5 are free and youth under 15 are half price. Call the Mendocino County Museum at 707.459.2736 for more information and to make reservations.

Then, just show up at the museum by 10 a.m Saturday, May 15 to collect your tour map and historic guide to the ranches. Both ranches are just a few minutes' drive from the Mendocino County Museum.

The Heritage Ranch Tour, part of Heritage Days of Mendocino County, is co-sponsored by Landcestry Services, the Roots of Motive Power, and the Mendocino County Museum. Proceeds will benefit the Mendocino County Museum and help preserve the cultural heritage of Mendocino County.

If you need driving directions, remember -- you can get anywhere from anywhere with Google Maps.

Willits is not just a one horse town. Learn why from the Willits Chamber of Commerce.

Willits is the home of Seabiscuit.  There’s also a state-of-the-art skate park for kids and their friends.

While you’re in Willits, “the heart of Mendocino County,” explore the rest of the area. Visit Mendocino can tell you where to go/what to do, even help you with hotel information.

If you have friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, don’t be a Lone Ranger. Tell them about the Heritage Ranch Tour in Willits and take them along. It’s just common horse sense.

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  • Sheila O'Connor - SF World Travel Examiner 4 years ago

    Never knew all this! Thanks Jay

  • Wanda Hennig 4 years ago

    This sounds like a really fun one for your area. Wow. Interesting stuff.

  • Christina Rebuffet-Broadus, French Culture and Tra 4 years ago

    This sounds really excititing--a chance to see if those Westerns knew what they were talking about.

  • Neala 4 years ago

    Sounds like fun and fascinating time - and with food. What more can anyone ask?

    I'm quite partial to anything that involves eating.

  • Patty Davis 4 years ago

    HeeHaw! Serve me up some vittles!

  • Jodie J 4 years ago

    Yes, I'd like to visit a ranch but am awfully allergic to hay and many animals so will have to just enjoy stories such as yours.

  • Pauline Dolinski 4 years ago

    Fresh lamb would be worth the trip.