A scene from the “Firefighters’ Challenge” – more photos on the LoCO Facebook page

Sometimes Southern Humboldtians get a bad rap. More northernly folks dismiss them as a bunch of reggae-loving dope growers. There may indeed be some truth to that, but at Roll on the Mattole, where the music ranged from the singer-songwriter stylings of KHUM’s Lyndsey Battle to the quirky bluegrass madness of Mendo’s The Dirt Floor Band to the rocksteady ska sounds of Reno’s Keyser Soze, the overwhelming vibe was that of community.

The annual event has raised funds for the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company for 25 years. People take pride in their volunteers and the fact that rural residents are more used to taking care of each other than those of us with city amenities at our disposal.

Sure, the hills might have their seedy underbelly – but so does Blue “Velvet” Lake! Yesterday, at the Roll, I watched children run bounce happily between family members and honorary aunts, neighbors compare notes on home building, long-time attendees welcome first-timers into their midst. Arms opened and smiles widened all day long.  Words were kind. The sun shone bright. Since cell service is nonexistent, people talked to each other directly and paid attention to the bands.

Roll on the Mattole raised funds for the fire company, but the event showcased part of what truly defines Southern Humboldt – freedom, resourcefulness and being in this moment, this place together. And isn’t that why most of us are here?