A host of ghosts will be taking over Bridgeport this weekend with a series of fun-filled Halloween events.
“It’s a combination of history with scary halloween,” said festival coordinator Janine Martin.
The Bridgeport Fall Festival will be featuring a theme of “The Ghosts Return to Bridgeport” Sunday at the South Yuba River State Park. The event is presented by the South Yuba River Park Association and the state park.
Among the various events taking place, a live “Ghosts of Bridgeport” play with performances by local magician Nick Fedoroff and actors Mark Lyon and Marion Jeffery will take stage.
The script, written by Lyon, will feature ghosts from the late 1800s, including the legendary Yankee Jim and the Kneebone family, according to festival coordinator Janine Martin.
Yankee Jim was a sailor who had a mysterious load of gold the local miners sought to find to no avail, according to a story published at www.thetombstonenews.com out of Tombstone, Ariz. One day, he told a man named Ben Currier that he would let him be his partner if he could ward off the pesky miners, then subsequently disappeared, until he was captured and hanged in Bridgeport, so the story goes.
“The whereabouts of Yankee Jim have been a mystery from the time Ben Currier last saw him,” the website said. “However, in the fall of 1852, a man rode through Bridgeport driving several fine horses before him.
“Hours after he had passed through town, word was received that the horses were stolen. A posse set out in pursuit, and the man was captured. Although he protested his innocence, they hanged him anyway. When the body was cut down, a money belt was taken from around the waist. It was filled with rough, oblong chunks of gold.”
Along with ghost characters, the festival will feature music by Ragged But Right, wagon rides, barn tours, wildflower crafts, face painting, gold panning, pumpkin painting and games for kids of all ages.
Local author and birder Carol Malnor will be on hand to sign her children’s book, “The Blues go Birding Across America.” The Audubon Society has also planned special activities for children.
The Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce will be selling hot dogs, baked potatoes and drinks, and June’s deli will be offering baked treats. The Lazy Dog cart will be providing ice cream treats.
There will also be a raffle, clothes for sale at the visitor’s center and other items for sale, and all the proceeds will exclusively benefit the park.
“Any money that we bring in, aside from the $5 for parking, goes to the park, stays at the park and doesn’t get distributed around,” said coordinator Mickey Springer, adding he enjoys the historic value of the park.
“The park is so nice. It’s very historical,” Springer said. “The historic gas station will be open, and I think we’re going to have one or two old cars out there. Just the history that goes on, and the barn and the bridge are all great. The bridge is still closed, but it’s nice to see. It’s just a nice time of year.”
The Bridgeport covered bridge, which had its 150th birthday celebrated earlier this
year, has been closed to public access due to repairs deemed necessary by the state parks department.
The park itself was in danger of closing due to lack of funding but has since been taken off the list due to public support and a plan that has increased parking fees.
“The park is open, free to the public, and we were not charging the parking, and we were not bringing any funds into the state park, so they initiated the parking, which helped the revenues and us stay open,” said Steve Pauly of the South Yuba River State Park.
“The parking fees have been tolerated very well by the public, knowing the fees are keeping the park open,” he said.
In addition to its history and the Halloween season, Martin said the event can also be considered a celebration of the continued availability of the park to the public.
“Let’s support our local state park and celebrate its removal from the state park closure list,” Martin said.
“It’ll be a great afternoon.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.