“Of the 58 counties throughout California, Humboldt County boasts more artists per capita than anywhere in the state.”
For all involved, converting a 100 year old cheese factory into a bustling art district has been a pure act of love. Love, that is, for the city of Arcata, CA and the lively community of artists and freethinkers which reside there.
In the 1970’s what were then the new owners of the once California Central Creamery had a vision of turning this ran down, yet very industrial chic part of their quaint little Northern California town into a full blown art district. Over the years, what started off as a few artist and musician studios, eventually blossomed into a very special arts and business district within Arcata. The Creamery District, which is located just blocks away from the downtown Arcata plaza, now boasts all sorts of unique and interesting offerings, including wonderful community events and festivals.
Over the last few years specifically, the Creamery District of Arcata has undergone its greatest metamorphosis. Starting in 2012 the Arcata Playhouse, a live performance theater located in the district, began its efforts to revamp this vital art “neighborhood”. Thankfully, due to the Playhouse’s efforts and their commitment to building community through the arts, the city’s zoning laws for the district were eventually changed from solely industrial to mixed use commercial thus inviting an even more types of businesses to set up shop. The Creamery District is now home to not only the Arcata Playhouse, but dance studios, fiber artists, a stained glass studio, the Kinetic Sculpture Lab, jewelry factories, a self defense academy, a cider brewery, retail shops, a yoga studio, and a wide array of other creative enterprises. Also for the first time, the district is beginning to see restaurants and cafes pop up around in the hood.
When asked why she chose to open her business in the Creamery District, Patricia Knittel, owner of the district’s very own Wrangletown Cider Company, said in a interview with Times-Standard’s Tabitha Soden “The zoning was appropriate for it as well as the fact that there are a lot of interesting places here”. Wrangletown Cider Company produces small batch hard ciders made from select apples sourced from a variety of Northern California Orchards. Wrangeltown craft ciders honor the rich history of apple farming in Humboldt County and it seemed very fitting to Knittel to house her business in such a historic Humboldt County location. Be sure to drop by Wrangletown Cider Co. for a tasting during their business hours on Fridays and Saturdays or call them directly to schedule an appointment for a private tasting and tour!
Another sweet little spot that has opened its doors to business in the district recently is Cafe Presto, a coffee cart housed in a one-of-a-kind, fully restored Piaggio vehicle. Holly Hosterman and Paul Kibitz, owners of Holly Yashi, an artisan jewelry company also located in the Creamery District, feel in love with a similar mobile espresso cafe while on vacation in Italy and decided to recreate the cafe in the Arcata’s very own arts district. This is the perfect place to visit after taking a tour of the Holly Yashi design studio. Apparently Cafe Presto prepares all of its drinks with a La Speziale S40 Suprema espresso machine which was specially imported and is the only one of its class in all of North America!
Perhaps the best way to check out the Creamery District is by visiting the Saturday Art Market on the last Saturday of each month from June through September. This free, outdoor, family-friendly event showcases local artists selling high quality arts and crafts and a flea market where folks sell other treasures. The market is usually features live music from local musicians as well. A super fun thing to check out especially after the Saturday Farmers Market on the Arcata plaza just a couple of blocks away.
Creamery District Community Arts Festival features “pageantry, music, art, comedy” as well as a big top circus each year. This super fun event is great for the entire family. Arcata’s revived Creamery District and its multitude of businesses present this three-day festival every August and invites outdoor spectacle performers, Vaudeville Variety shows, and a plethora of vendors and live musicians to celebrate the arts with them in the amazing little community that they have created.
So if you are exploring downtown Arcata don’t forget to mosey a little ways off of the Arcata Plaza and visit the Creamery District and all of its liveliness, just a few blocks away. Catch a show at the Playhouse, take a tour of a design studio or brewing facility, sip on some cider or a latte, or attend a fun outdoor summer festival or event. The Creamery District is truly one of the many gems of the Redwood Coast.