By Joanna Metheny
One of the best things about living in a small town are the little efforts locals take to brighten up the community. Ripon is a shining example of
this, particularly during the holiday season. Perhaps you have caught a glimpse of one such example when getting off the freeway at Milgeo. Each holiday season, at the foot of the Fulton overpass, passersby are treated to a brightly lit nativity scene, peaking through the slats of an old barn.
Located right next door to the Barnwood Stable, the barn belongs to local farmer Ralph Riemersma. Several years ago, Riemersma’s niece began to hang a lit star on the side of the barn during each Christmas season. After she moved out, Riemersma was inspired to continue the tradition, and expand upon it by adding a full nativity scene. Now each holiday season, he carefully arranges the nativity figures in the barn’s hayloft, including the lit-up star, as a cheery reminder of the reason for the season. Riemersma states he wanted to, “remind people that Santa has a gift for those who are good, and God has the gift of eternal life for those who are not.”
The Riemersma property has been in the family for several generations. Originally a goat dairy, today Riemersma’s brother raises cows on the property, which is also home to several of the family’s horses. The barn is used year-round for hay storage and housing animals. Due to the fact that it is a family property and working farm, and the scene’s location in the hayloft, there is no public access or in-barn viewing of the nativity scene, but those who are interested can view and enjoy the scene from the street, or pathway that runs adjacent to the property along Fulton Avenue.
Next time you pull into town this season, why not take a moment to drive by the Riemersma barn and appreciate this brightly lit reminder of the reason for the season?
About the author: For nearly a decade, Joanna Metheny has been a freelance writer specialized in the coverage of local topics and community interest stories. A Central Valley transplant and Bay Area native, Joanna permanently relocated to Ripon and hasn’t looked back once. She loves the city’s proud agricultural history and small town feel. Joanna enjoys spending her time in the community, tending her garden, and discovering local secrets along Ripon’s backroads.