After a one-year hiatus, the Rancho Day Fiesta, hosted by the San Mateo County Historical Association, will make its return at the Sánchez Adobe Historical Site in Pacifica this weekend featuring a new exhibit center highlighting the areas indigenous, Spanish and Mexican past.  

“For the Historical Association, this celebration marks the finish line … of many years of study, planning, fund raising and building,” Mitch Postel, president of the Historical Association, said in an email.

This year’s Rancho Day will run from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, and will be the first public event hosted by the association since the start of the pandemic, Deputy Director Carmen Blair said. The event is meant to give visitors a closer look at life on a ranch in Mexican California when Don Francisco Sánchez, a former San Francisco mayor, called the 5-acre land his home.  

As in years past, event participants are invited to Pacifica’s Sánchez Adobe at 1000 Linda Mar Blvd. where performers will showcase music and dance of the 1840s. Crafts of the time will also be offered, allowing the public to create corn husk dolls and candles, stamp leather, weave wheat along with other activities. 

Unlike other programs traditionally hosted by the association, Rancho Day was unable to be held virtually last year because of its hands-on nature, Blair said. Now that vaccines are readily available and other safety measures are in place, she shared excitement for welcoming the community back. 

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” she said. “We’re just thrilled to be able to open up to the public.” 

While many aspects of the site will be familiar to those who have visited in the past, a new Sánchez Adobe Interpretive Center exhibit will offer a deeper look into the land’s history, also opening to the public on Saturday.

The center focuses on three eras, the Native American period when the Ohlone inhabited a seasonal village call Pruristac for centuries; the Spanish period characterized by Catholic missions and outposts; and the Mexican period when Sánchez was granted ownership of 8,928 acres of land and lived in the historic adobe house with his family after its completion in 1846. 

Much of the later two periods have been documented over time. Aiming to achieve a hyper local view of the region’s vast Native American period, Blair and museum curator Dana Neitzel worked closely with two indigenous consultants, Dr. Jonathan Cordero and Linda Yamane. 

Cordero is a member of the Ramaytush tribe, one of many indigenous groups now commonly referred to as Ohlone, a professor of cultural sociology at California Lutheran University and founder of the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone. 

Yamane, of the Rumsien Ohlone tribe, is a renowned Ohlone basket weaver credited with creating the first Ohlone basket of its kind in 250 years. Her work, including a basket, feather headdress and cape will be featured in the exhibit along with a mural she worked on with Bay Area artist Amy Hosa. 

“This has allowed us to take a much deeper look and to update our interpretation,” Blair said. “I encourage everyone to visit the interpretive center for an enhanced understanding of the Sánchez Adobe site and its place in California history.”

An additional mural by artist Fred Sinclair will be featured on site focused on the asistencia, a mission support farm which largely supplied food to Mission Dolores during the Spanish era. 

Additional interactive elements will be offered at the center including basket weaving and crafting reatas, the Spanish term for lassos used to catch animals on the range.  

 The Interpretive Center was a key project identified in the 2007 Sanchez Adobe Historical Site Master Plan and Measure K funds granted by the county Board of Supervisors helped bring the center to life. 

Now that the exhibit is out of the two-story building, Postel noted much work is left to do on the home itself which will be furnished to appear as it would when home to the Sánchez family. 

“The Master Plan is still far from complete,” Postel said, adding that a furnishing plan was completed just last month. “It is amazing how much history you learn when you are re-creating the interior of a house to the way it appeared during its historic period.”

Admission to the Rancho Day Fiesta is free with food and drinks available for purchase. Given that many children are still ineligible for vaccines, eventgoers will be required to wear masks at all times except for when eating or drinking. 

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106

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