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Empire Mine to host “Mine, Wine & Dine” fundraiser

Now in its third year, “Mine, Wine & Dine” has staked its claim as a summer-evening highlight, dedicated to maintaining and improving Empire Mine State Historic Park.

With dining outside the 1905 Clubhouse plus a rare evening opening of Empire Cottage, the event is a tribute to our gold-mine past.

“Imagine dining in the very same place where the Bourn Family entertained international business magnates over a century ago,” said event chair Steve Sanchez. “We mix some of Empire’s early elegance with contemporary fun to create a unique experience, complete with a tempting selection of fine wines and craft beer.”

Family-style dining will be presented by Antonio Ayestarán Custom Catering. Living History docents in period attire will share fascinating facts about the mine’s heydays — and its world-famous success.

Sanchez works closely with event coordinator Shanin Ybarrondo, head of Grass Valley-based Immersion Marketing.

“This event is also rich in top-quality entertainment,” Ybarrondo said. “We’ll enjoy engaging vocals by Jane Sinclair before dinner, followed by after-dinner dancing to award-winning band Dream and the Dreamer. Personally, I think experiencing the Park under the stars adds more than a touch of magic.

“As with every successful fundraiser, sponsorship is the key, and it’s gratifying to see the number of local businesses that support us. Eventhelper.com, Paulette’s Country Kitchen and Scope Landscape Management are our three top sponsors this year. Their vision and generosity, as well as that of all our sponsors, is a meaningful way to help safeguard the Park’s future.”

Since the 2018 “Mine, Wine & Dine,” major projects have been accomplished, including repairing the outdated irrigation system to keep the park green and the fountains flowing. Plaques that identify the stately trees have been installed.

A reliable transportation vehicle has been purchased for weddings and assisting those with special needs — plus major repairs are planned for the historic greenhouse.

“Repairs and improvements are a never-ending challenge,” Sanchez said.

Empire Mine Park Association hosts this event, and since 1976, the association has demonstrated a stalwart passion for its support of the park.

In the early 1900s, Empire Mine was a pillar of Nevada County’s prosperity. It still is, but in a very different way. Its success is no longer measured in ounces of gold, but in the number of visitors it attracts. Empire Mine State Historic Park welcomes around 100,000 visitors each year.

Tickets to “Mine, Wine & Dine” are available at minewinedine2019.brownpapertickets.com, as well as in the park’s gift shop 530-273-8522, and through Immersion Marketing at 913-2334, shanin@immersionmktg.com.

Courtney Ferguson is Empire Mine Park Association’s outreach coordinator, a published author, and a freelance writer.

Nevada City’s First Friday Art walk kicks off this week

Nevada City’s First Friday Art Walk is back for its sixth year, kicking off this Friday with downtown venues hosting mixers, receptions and live music.

The first, almost impromptu, event in 2013 attracted several hundred visitors and prompted organizers to close off parts of some streets. Last year, an estimated 2,000 art lovers crowded the city streets for each art walk.

Even more has been planned for 2019.

“It is bigger and better this year, definitely,” said organizer Cynthia Levesque. “We have a lot of new things happening.”

Nevada City Film Festival will get the party started early with a Local Creatives Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m. Folks can meet like-minded artists, filmmakers, photographers, designers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and others to learn about projects, pool resources, develop partnerships, find mentors, and help build a vibrant, youthful creative culture in Nevada County. Guest artists’ work will be on display and drinks, noshes and nibbles will be available. The happy hour will be at Nevada City Film Festival’s headquarters at 110 Union Street Alley.

Ready Nevada County is collaborating with Miners Foundry Cultural Center and the art walk for a summer-long series of Ready, Set, Go mixers. These casual mixers will feature art, socializing, education and an opportunity to connect with seasoned professionals focused on fire prevention and preparedness. Art from the Osborn/Woods Gallery will be on display and representatives from 211 Connecting Point will be on hand to help people sign up for Code Red emergency alerts. Miners Foundry will provide a no-host bar on the outside patio. There will be a poetry reading at 5 p.m. with Molly Fisk and live music throughout the evening.

There will be live music and theatrical performances at various locations throughout downtown. In addition, there will be a Youth Arts Showcase featuring artists between the ages of 4-18 and a “Kids Zone” on York Street with activities and art projects for kids of all ages.

“I’m thrilled to see such community involvement this year,” Levesque said. “With over 28 downtown businesses participating, there’s sure to be something for everyone.”

Friday’s events

On Broad Street, LeeAnn Brook Fine Art will celebrate its fourth anniversary with a reception featuring “The Color of Light,” a photography show by Frank Francis and the gypsy jazz of Yuba Rio, and Gallery 125 & Media Lounge will host a grand opening celebration. Elixart will have a group show with an artist meet and greet from 7-9 p.m., followed by music from 9 p.m. to midnight.

The Aerial Lab returns this year, performing at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at York and Broad streets. The Boardwalk Stage on Commercial Street will have live music by The Ruckrich Family Band at 6 p.m., poetry readings by The Poetry Crashers at 7 p.m., and music by Fog Holler at 8 p.m.

The Nevada City United Methodist Church’s fellowship hall will serve as an art gallery, with 25 church member artists showcasing their works. Music will be provided and food and beverages will be available. Brief guided tours of the church, located at 433 Broad St., will be offered.

Friday will be the official kick-off with a reception for Ruth Chase’s I Am HERe art installation in Robinson Plaza. Stop by and place some thoughtful words of belonging onto the installation.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

From humble beginnings, Penn Valley Rodeo heads into 62nd year

What began as a family get-together and ranch rodeo that included a number of Penn Valleys founding families has become a not-to-be-missed Nevada County tradition — as the 62nd Penn Valley Rodeo takes place this weekend.

Teresa Dietrich, Penn Valley Community Rodeo Association board member, sponsorship co-chair and mutton busting co-chair, said Penn Valley was originally a dairy community with a long and enduring history of being an agricultural center in Nevada County.

“Once a year all of the families would get together and have a ranch rodeo,” Dietrich said. “It was a big community celebration. All the women would bake pies and make salads. There would be a barbecue and all the local ranchers got together to show off their ranching talent. It was a big community picnic with a ranch rodeo.”

Over 60 years ago, those neighborly get-togethers became a formal rodeo and fundraiser for the Penn Valley Fire Department to raise funds to buy new equipment. At some point, they were unable to sustain the event and they offered it up to the public. Dietrich says is when community members stepped up and formed the Penn Valley Community Rodeo Association.

Today the rodeo continues on the same iconic and historic grounds as those first neighborhood gatherings, now owned by the Penn Valley Fire Protection District.

Dietrich says putting on a good rodeo requires a good stock contractor, a wonderful announcer and an entertaining rodeo clown.

“We bring in four-star rodeo livestock as our stock contractor, and we have Don Jesser who has been our professional rodeo announcer for a number of years, and we have J.J. Harrison as the rodeo clown again. He is considered one of the top 10 in the nation as far rodeo entertainer.”

She says the role of the rodeo clown goes far beyond entertainment.

“The rodeo clown entertains between events, but he is also the barrel man. During bull riding, the barrel man must be able to get out there and distract the bull from injuring any of the cowboys that have come off the bull.

“So he is literally putting his life at risk every time he is in there because those bulls are about 2,000 pounds and by the time they get the rider off their back, they are a little agitated, so that clown is brightly colored to distract the bull and protect the cowboy. That is his job. He is also very funny and a great entertainer.”

The sanctioned rodeo is this Friday and Saturday. In addition to bull riding events will include bronco riding, roping, saddleback bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and many more.

Dietrich said, “The athletes who are competing in our rodeo are competing also for points for the whole series across the state of California.” The association has increased prize money to entice riders from competing rodeos.

The event begins with a coronation of the junior and senior rodeo queens. Opening ceremonies include the grand entry, with all the queens carrying flags, the competitors entering the arena and the often-emotional presentation of the American Flag and the singing of the National Anthem.

Dietrich said other popular events include a calf scramble.

“Any child that is at the rodeo can enter the arena and chase the cattle around and find the calf that has a ribbon on its tail. The kid that gets the ribbon, gets the prize.”

For the second year the Wild West Buckers, riders aged 6-13, will be featuring the sport of bareback riding and supplying mini bucking horses and ponies. And they will have muttin busting as well.

Saturday, a rodeo parade kicks off at 3 p.m. beginning at Western Gateway Park and ending at the Rodeo Grounds with Grand Marshal Bob Winters, along with a number of community organizations represented in classic cars, tractors, and riders on mules and horseback.

Except for Truckee-based Owner of Smokey’s Kitchen & Catering, all the food vendors are nonprofits and Smokey’s owner, Michael Lathury, will be donating a percentage of their proceeds, selling pulled pork, ribs, chicken and all the fixings.

The Nevada Union Football Boosters will have hamburgers and hot dogs at their booth, and Ready Springs School runs the Little Wranglers Snack Shack featuring pizza and other nuggets kids love to eat. Kare Crisis Nursery will be serving homemade delights in the pie booth. The Penn Valley Chamber will have refreshments for sale as well.

There are pony rides, face painting and other activities for the kids.

An after-rodeo dance party will be held each night featuring The James Slack Band.

Breakfast will be sold at the old firehouse, and Cowboy Church, with the Hale Family and Friends will also be taking place. Sunday admission is free with muttin busting at 10 a.m. and jackpot roping at 11 a.m.

Proceeds from the Rodeo go to support the Penn Valley Rodeo Scholarship program and other youth in agriculture programs as well as the Penn Valley Fire District with an EMT scholarship fund. For the full schedule of events and to buy tickets online see www.pvrodeo.com.

Be awed by beauty and creativity on Soroptimist Garden Tour

Step into a world of beauty and wonder at the 26th annual Soroptimist International of the Sierra Foothills Garden Tour Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This popular event allows the public into some of our community’s most beautiful and elaborate private gardens, and the homeowners who have created them are on hand to answer questions and welcome you into their world.

This year, six diverse gardens from South County to Nevada City will be featured on the tour, giving attendees a glimpse of the secret worlds of residents at different elevations and climates.  Each garden is uniquely special, and has been chosen for the meticulous love and care that is taken to keep each one well maintained year round.

#1 Japanese Garden and Tea House

Enter into the far East in South Nevada County

Steve and Nancy Murphy have brought the Far East to South Nevada County with their majestic Japanese Garden.  You are greeted by a large weeping Tolleson’s Blue Weeping Juniper and a stone water basin which is called a tsukubai, signifying the Zen saying “be satisfied with what you have.”  Traverse through a passageway of elegant gardens dotted with stone statuary and beautiful flowers and trees. Emerge to an arbor covered with blooming wisteria and gaze upon a view of the distant horizon incorporated into the landscape composition. In Japanese, this is called Shakkei, meaning “captured alive.”  Wind through Japanese maple trees and azaleas to the highlight of the garden, the Tea House.  If you time it just right, you may be treated to a traditional tea ceremony.  Steve will be wandering about the garden dressed in traditional dress and available to answer questions, and he and Nancy invite you to step into another culture while enjoying the tranquility of their gardens.

#2 A Long Term Relationship with a Garden at Busted Boot Ranch

See what a three decade long labor of love looks like at Busted Boot Ranch

Susan and Michael Street welcome you to their sprawling 21 acre three-decade labor of love.  Meander through a riot of flowers, trees, and unique combinations of flora that are as beautiful as they are eclectic.  There are so many fun flourishes in this garden.  You’ll see the bathtub bed which contains a clawfoot tub with a novel fountain.  Vegetables, a vast array of trees, and a thirty year old artichoke plant are mixed in this eccentric and charming locale.  The Streets have done all the work themselves.  Michael has done all the hardscaping, mostly rock work.  Susan runs the irrigation, mostly by sprinklers, on an as needed basis. She says that she has been observing and nurturing this garden for so long that she knows every plant, and has watched how they migrate around the planting beds.

#3 Wildlife Wonders

See if you can spot some wildlife at the pond.

Bev Giovanetti invites you to come and enjoy their labor of love that has blossomed into a paradise for both people and wildlife.  Bev and her husband have enjoyed lots of wildlife on their waterfront such as geese, mallards, and wood ducks.  There is a nesting pair of geese that returns to their barn rooftop each year.  Bev has maintained wooden nesting boxes for the wood ducks, and says that the pond is also home to beavers and fish.  In fact, the fauna have made themselves right at home so much that the property has been registered with the state to provide information for wildlife monitoring.  Beyond the pond teeming with friendly critters, the yard and garden surrounding it are beautiful.   There is a bocce court and she shed among the flowering trees, vegetable garden, and green “country” lawn.  It’s easy to see why so many creatures have decided to make this their home.

#4 A Complete Makeover

Check out the adorable she shed at this stop on the tour

See a true work in progress at the one acre garden of Brian Spencer & Teresa Trimble, who recently purchased property that was overgrown with trees and brush.  After clearing the excess trees and brush the couple has been working with local architect Keith Brown and landscape designer Cathy D’s to create their own personal paradise.  Teresa’s one request was to have something colorful at every time of the year.   The front area is planted with azaleas, a few winter-blooming camellias, spireas, barberry, redbud, dogwood, Japanese maples, lavender, and salvias, so Teresa should get her wish for year-round color shows.  The front also has redwood trees, Deodar cedars, and soon a blue spruce or two.  They are in the process of building a deluxe outdoor living area complete with a new covered patio with ceiling fans, an outdoor pavilion, and much more.  Come see this paradise in progress and don’t miss the luxury “she shed” while you’re there!

#5 A Forest of Flowers

Find secret nooks and crannies as you meander through the forest of flowers

Jay, Chad, and their mother, Jean invite you to explore their garden which surrounds their family compound.  Wander through the vegetable and fruit garden and rest in the shade of the many fruit trees. Behind the residences is a fragrant garden area with beds of roses and an herb garden.  Stroll along a nice path through a forest of mature azaleas, most forming hedges, large rhododendrons, with dogwoods and camellias dotted throughout.  You will arrive at the pond, complete with a new dock perfect for summer tranquility.  Or you may get sidetracked and wander around on lesser paths and find the tiny “secret garden,” as the visiting children of the family love to do.  Don’t worry, all paths lead to the pond.  The original creator of this garden had it in one of the first garden tours 25 years ago.  Come see how the garden has grown and meet the enthusiastic new owners who want to improve it and keep it at its best.

#6 A Garden for Splendid Entertaining

This one will give you garden envy!

Marcia Accola has created a backyard landscape that is absolutely stunning for entertaining.  Interested in trying some landscape design, she took courses from Robert Littlepage of the former California School of Landscape Design in Auburn.  A big takeaway for her was the idea of breaking a large area down into little vignettes.  She has designed her own back landscape to include beautiful paths and little patios for sitting areas that wind through the trees. She created a dining area near a beautiful fountain, a gorgeous outdoor kitchen in the round made of flagstone, and a nice cozy flagstone sitting bench that wraps around a fire pit.  This entertaining spot is complete with gentle lighting and outdoor speakers.  The flagstone in the construction is also used for the paths that connect the whole place together.  Pass through a gate to enter a cutting garden with lilacs, black-eyed Susans, the fall-blooming Japanese anemones, and giant dinner-plate dahlias – reaching upwards of 6 ft. tall; it’s like walking through the Alice in Wonderland garden.  You will find many stops to sit and rest along the way around the garden and even a bed perfect for a summer nap in the shade.

Don’t miss this wonderful glimpse into the secret gardens of Nevada County. The cost to attend the Soroptimist Garden Tour is $25 in advance, and $30 at the garden gates.  For more information or to purchase tickets, call 530-273-7989 or visit https://www.sierrasoroptimist.org/2018-garden-tour.

Celebrate our Earth: Earth Day, Health Fair comes to Sierra College’s Nevada County campus

Thursday students and the public is invited to partake in Earth Day and Health Fair festivities at Nevada County’s Sierra College campus, according to a release.

There will be live entertainment, including children from the Childhood Development Center singing songs, two live band performances as well as Zumba dancing.

Several community organizations will have tables, including the Bear Yuba Land Trust, Nevada County Electric Car Association, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Tahoe National Forest, United States Department of Agriculture, Conservation Service and more. Many other Sierra College clubs will have tables as well.

Health organizations will be attending, including Nevada County Public Health department, Grass Valley Crossfit, Training Zone and more.

A leaflet assignment scavenger hunt will take place. Once participants have completed the assignment, they will have the opportunity to collect a raffle ticket, potentially winning a variety of prizes.

Sierra College hopes to create an interactive experience, presenting an educational carnival. The college hopes people not only learn about health and environmental issues, but also make connections to the campus.

Source: Sierra College

‘The pinnacle of performers:’ St. Lawrence Quartet perform at Seventh Day Adventist

Once again, world class entertainers are coming to Grass Valley.

This Sunday with thanks to InConcert Sierra, the award winning, world renowned, St. Lawrence String Quartet will play at the Seventh Day Adventist Church as part of the third Sunday series tagged as “classical music that will rock your world.”

The St. Lawrence String Quartet formed in Canada 30 years ago, and this year celebrates its 20th year as artists in residence at Stanford University.

Arguably one of the top string quartets in the world, they have been on InConcert Sierra Artistic Director Ken Hardin’s radar for some time. Hardin explains because the third Sunday series has specific dates to fill, he often must wait several seasons to book the performers he wants.

“I have been enamored by the St. Lawrence String quartet for years,” Hardin said, “and have always known I wanted to have them on the series but it takes a long time to work out when I can have a group because they have to work into our schedule; I can’t fit into theirs.”

Sunday’s performance will include three of the most famous composers who ever wrote for quartet. The group will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in F Minor, Op.55, No.2 (“The Razor”), Beethoven’s String Quartet in F, Op. 135 , and Brahms String Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2.

“They are the pinnacle of performers of Haydn,” said Hardin. “Part of the beauty of the St. Lawrence Quartet is that they have played together for so long they can play off each other really well. They are animated and fun. They are like rock musicians playing string instruments without amplifiers. It is an incredibly fun program.”

The quartet is quite active. Cellist Chris Costanza, who joined St. Lawrence Quartet in 1989, said, “We are entering into a celebratory time. We are about to celebrate our 30th anniversary which coincides with our 20th anniversary as artists in residence at Stanford University. The quartet won a couple of significant awards early on and was able work with the top three quartets in the United States, at the time. When I joined, we were playing over 100 concerts a year if not more.”

Stanford has a busy and active music department.

“We have full-time positions at the University,” explained Costanza, “so we teach our instruments in the music department, we run a chamber music program made up of students, we perform concerts on campus and we also frequently collaborate with other departments and schools at the university on campus — with the medical school, the business school, the law school, engineering, the math department — so we have a number of programs where we connect music to other programs. For instance, we took a piece and linked mathematical concepts to music.”

This educational background will be especially helpful when the quartet performs for over 650 third graders on the Monday following their Sunday performance as part of InConcert Sierra’s educational program. Hardin said for at least a decade InConcert Sierra has brought students to live performances at no cost to them.

“We bus the students to the venue, and they see a concert just as adults would,” he said. “It’s a more formal arrangement so when they come to the concert hall, they are in the frame of mind to receive it.”

Constanza said, “To allow the young folks to be exposed to music in a live setting is essential not only to their musical development but to their intellectual and spirit — it connects on many levels. We want to see them absorbing the music and learning something about it.”

The program is a bit different with the quartet playing shorter pieces with an introduction and an interactive discussion between the members of the quartet and the students.

“We give them a program to take home that talks to them about what they heard, offers them a deal on coming back to a future performance,” Hardin said.

Children age 5-17 are admitted free to third Sunday chamber performances when accompanied by an adult. Costanza said engaging young people is incredibly important.

“As a full time professional musician I have my own bias, but what I think it’s important to impress upon the young people, especially in this generation, that we have our devices — computers, iPad, phones and various things where we can access worlds of information, but there is nothing like direct human interaction. There is nothing like hearing something live because it is being created in the moment. And you get a very personal connection to it that way.”

“Our goal is to have kids come to a concert like this and have an experience with classical music that is engaging and enjoyable,” said Hardin. “We just want to plant that seed so that when they are older, they will think about coming to see us.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores: The Hungry Games — May the odds be ever in your flavor

The Nevada City Rotary Club brings a new fundraiser to town with The Hungry Games, set for Sunday at the Miners Foundry. Fundraising chairperson Michael Young and his committee developed what they hope to be a unique, annual fundraiser.

The Hungry Games will feature a “Top Chef”-type cooking competition, along with wine tasting, live music, vendors and a silent auction. All proceeds will help fund local Nevada City Rotary service projects.

ThE HAM STAND

The fundraiser will feature four area restaurants competing for Top Chef honors, including Nevada City specialty meat shop, The Ham Stand. Owner Jason Jillson — who has a master’s degree in culinary education — opened his Zion Street business last July where he cures his own meats.

“I’m a new business and I am so happy to be involved in the community,” Jillson said. “It is a great way to promote yourself and do your part. It is a chance to showcase yourself to a group who might not have had a chance to come through your door.”

Jillson will be serving a duo plate of barbecue brisket with smoked sweet potato and a North Carolina pork belly with barbecue beans in a biscuit.

Jillson says he wants people to understand he is not just a butcher and not just a sandwich maker.

“The dish I created is a cross between fine dining and barbecue,” he said. “I want people to know I can do barbecue items, but I can also do fine dining and catering is a big piece.”

Purveyors pantry

Another relatively new business, Purveyors Pantry, is also taking part in the chef competition. John and Karen Foley opened their doors two years ago, selling sauces and condiments. Once their kitchen was ready, they began baking pastries and quiches among other fare, serving weekend brunch and daily lunch. They recently began offering dinners to go.

When the weather permits, they will serve meals on their 18-seat patio as well as in the pantry. John serves as head chef while Karen handles the front of house.

“We are very supportive of Rotary and the community and thought this would also be a good way to get our name out there,” John said. “I’ll probably be making a roll-up, with butternut squash, carrots, yams and blueberries. It’s very good.”

The Foleys hail from the east coast, bringing their entrepreneurial spirit. They have experience in the corporate world, in publishing, and in retail as well as the restaurant business, which eventually lead them to California.

“We are all about quality and freshness,” said Karen. “We try very hard to make it special and personal for the people who live here.”

bISTRO 221

Also competing in the Hungry Games is Bistro 221. Like the others involved, owner Melissa Bryant said it’s about giving back.

“Rotary gives back so this is an opportunity for us to help them get an event started,” Bryant said. “I just wanted to be a part and help.

“We make our bechamel, our own marinara,” said Bryant. “We shred our own cheese, make our own breadcrumbs, people just love it. Everything we do is fresh and homemade and made with love. When I say we shred our own cheese, I mean we are manually shredding a block of cheese. Nothing comes here in bags.”

Chef Bobby McKnight joined the Bistro 221 team last fall and will be preparing an eggplant lasagna for The Hungry Games.

The relatively new partnership of owner and chef is working well. McKnight said, “We have both been in the restaurant business for most of our lives. We communicate really well.”

“We bounce our ideas off each other,” Bryant agreed. “I come up with a food idea and Bobby does his magic. We love cooking here. We love serving the community.”

The pair said being connected to the community has helped keep the doors open even when winters like this one can be challenging. Bistro 221 is one of a very few restaurants in Nevada City that is open Mondays. In addition to the front dining area, they have a back room available for private events of up to 28 guests at and the entire restaurant can be rented for private events.

maria’s restaurant

Celebrating their 27 years in Nevada County, Maria’s Restaurant will be offering their carnitas tacos with salsa for the competition. Operations Manager Gina Sidebottom said, “We feel they are always the best. They are so flavorful and the salsa that goes with it is just mouthwatering, savory, deliciousness.”

Sidebottom would like people to know that giving back is what Maria’s does.

“(Maria’s) loves to contribute to the community. Whenever we can, we do,” she said. “Our core values are connection, love, respect, and family. We are about community, and connection, and supporting each other. Many of our employees have been with us for over a decade. We are not just a business, we are here to make a difference in people’s lives with food.”

In addition to the cooking contestants, the fundraising committee was able to get a dozen restaurants to donate $100 gift certificates. The “winner-take-all” $1,200 prize will be raffled off at the event. Raffle tickets are $100 each and only 100 tickets will be sold.

Sgt. Funky Band will be playing live music for listening and dancing. There will be wine tasting and much more.

All money raised will support local projects which including Girls Who Code, youth leadership camps, academic scholarships, and both music and speech competitions.

“Our long-term goal is to make this sustainable,” said Rotary’s Michael Young. “We do a good job or a great job, fix any mistakes for next year and then do it again and again. We hope this will be the Nevada City Rotary event.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

Get the ball rolling: Miners Foundry lets the good times roll this Masquerade Ball

Nothing captures the spirit of Mardi Gras reveling quite like the annual Masquerade Ball which is set to kick off a weekend of celebration this Saturday evening. For the third year, the Miners Foundry has taken over organizing the ball, while the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce continues to manage the annual parade Mardi Gras parade.

For the 27th year, a parade full colorful characters and floats will make its way down Broad Street in celebration of Mardi Gras. This year the parade will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday. A street fair selling masks, beads, Mardi Gras attire, along with food, libations, and crafts will be open on North Pine and Commercial Streets beginning at 11 a.m.

The parade is really the second act this year, following what promises to be an out of this world masquerade ball Saturday night. Grab your mask, beads and dance shoes and get ready for a double feature of great music by The Deadbeats, with Buckstar opening.

Miners Foundry marketing director, Jesse Locks, said, ‘”After months of looking for a zydeco band to play Mardi Gras, the Foundry invited The Deadbeats and friends to perform because it is a traditional Grateful Dead ‘holiday’ celebration, so it fit and of course The Deadbeats are so loved by a local and regional audience. We knew fans would enjoy the opportunity to come out mid-winter for a dance party. The Deadbeats also bring the fun to any party or festive gathering.”

The Foundry will be decorated like you would expect to see in a dance hall in New Orleans or those infamous Dead parties.

“The Grateful Dead’s annual Mardi Gras concerts at the Oakland Coliseum were legendary,” said Locks, “with epic set lists and spectacular parades filled of animatronic floats ridden by phosphorescent skeletons and people throwing candies and beads to thousands of concert-goers dressed in festive garb.”

While having the Grateful Dead play in Nevada City is not a possibility, for lovers of their music, having The Deadbeats play is absolutely as good as it gets.

The Deadbeats have become a Nevada County institution. One of the original members, Gary Campus said, “August 4 will be our 25th anniversary. In 1994, a group of us were jamming at (the now defunct) Mad Dogs and Englishmen Pub on Spring Street in Nevada City on a Thursday night and we played some Grateful Dead material and the place was packed. People loved it, so we decided maybe we should do it again.”

The band has had a few iterations over the decades but just as the Grateful Dead did, they continue to perform with two drummers, which adds to the “something” undefinable.

“We were kind of fizzling out and then Jerry Garcia died,” Campus said, “so we said, we have to do a show. And that began our tradition of doing a few shows at the Miners Foundry every year and so it feels good to be playing for Mardi Gras this weekend.”

The Deadbeats current members are Tom Menig, Eric Menig, Gary Campus, Rob Kopp, Glen Tucker, Peter Wilson, Lucas Weber, and Jenn Knapp.

While the headlining band focuses on music of the ‘Dead, openers Buckstar will perform original tunes.

If the faces of Buckstar look familiar, it is because four of the members also play in The Deadbeats.

“Buckstar music can be described as juke box,” said Jen Knapp. “We play country, R&B, soul, rock, bluegrass, and sometimes we will put out some old traditional Americana.”

The band is about three years old.

Knapp continued: “Robbie and I were in The Cheatin’ Buzzies for about ten years but then we lost a member to cancer, so we recorded some music in tribute to him and then the music just started to come out. We just finished our second CD of all original music, which will be for sale at the ball.”

Both bands are happy to be working at home. Said to have a multi-generational following, the members all agree it’s like playing in their living room with a really big dance floor.

“We are happy to be opening up for the Deadbeats and we love playing at The Foundry,” said Knapp. “We are excited about it.”

Masquerade attired is encouraged.

Food for sale will be supplied by Buck & Sadie’s food truck out of Roseville.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

Nisenan art event highlights importance of Nevada County history

Will Edward’s new art gallery that sits like a citadel, overlooking Nevada City, was teeming with people Wednesday evening.

The tenor of the room was light despite the more difficult topic at hand. The crowd, mostly older, mostly white, arrived in the home-style gallery to view the work of public artist Jenny Hale who was trying to tell a story that is often ignored not just in Nevada County, but also in the country at large.

The images scattered across the walls were of Native Americans, specifically the Nisenan Tribe, capturing their relationship to Nevada City.

The event highlighted two series of Hale’s work, “I Still Live Here,” and “Guardians of the Dance,” which was commissioned by the California Heritage Indigenous Research Project “Visibility Through Art” initiative, with the intent of celebrating the Nisenan people, and raising awareness to push senators and congress-members to restore federal recognition back to the Nisenan people.

They had the recognition “illegally stripped” from them in the 1970s, according to the Nevada City Rancheria, an organization entitled because of President Woodrow Wilson, who gave the federally recognized land to the Nisenan people.

Wednesday, Hale and Shelly Covert, the Nisenan Tribal spokesperson and executive director of the California Heritage Indigenous Research Project, wanted to use art to resurrect a history that is often ignored, and at present unknown to many.

“Art is a nice way into conversations that are really tough,” Covert said to the crowd. “It’s a sort of backdoor” into a really messy and difficult topic.

The work of “I Still Live Here” displays a painting of a Nisenan dancer, photoshopped over a picture of Nevada City from 1851, which currently sits in the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce. Before the Gold Rush, that area was called Ustomah, and home to about 7,000 Nisenan people, according to Hale. A few years after the settlement, murder and decimation of land from non-native people, the Nisenan had lost more than half of its population, Hale said.

Hale’s art work, and the story of the Nisenan people, was meant to be showcased not just for those attending the gallery, but also the general public. Flo Fahrenheit, an attendee of the event, was interested in how intent Hale had been to have her art work made public.

“(Hale’s) whole life doing art, she never means it to be just hung on walls,” said Fahrenheit. “She wants it to be public, accessible.”

After the event within the gallery, participants were encouraged to go outside and view Hale’s artwork, which is displayed on the windows above the Camelot Gallery on Broad Street. According to Hale, those works are more easily distinguished at night and are on display until Feb. 17.

A new relationship

The partnership between Hale and Covert, and the project they started, began about a year ago when Hale was invited to Nisenan Heritage Day. From that day, it quickly sprouted.

“It happened really fast,” Covert said. “I met (Hale) in September or October of last year, and now, here we are in February.”

As a Nisenan tribal member, Covert worked with Hale to present an accurate and honest portrayal of the Nisenan people through art. This proved to be difficult for numerous reasons, but particularly for the dearth of native American imagery around Nevada County.

“(Jenny) had very little visual images to work with,” Covert said. “So much of our culture is only alive in tribal memory, and you can’t look in a book or go on Google to find these things.”

Having lived in the area since 1971, Hale had little knowledge herself about the Nisenan people, and particularly their presence in Nevada County. More recently, however, the public artist has become more aware of where the history of Nisenan is misappropriated, and where it is missing altogether. Lately, Hale remembers visiting the Searls Historical Museum, and not seeing any presence of the indigenous community.

“I’m more sensitive to the absence of the culture that was here before we arrived,” Hale said. “I’m more aware of their absence.”

An awakening

Hale’s “awakening,” to the indigenous people, as she described it, was what she hoped to instill in others who view her art.

“The history of the Nisenan is really erased,” Hale said. “What I hope is to wake people up to the culture of what was here before the Gold Rush.”

Covert, for her part, had been excited to be a part of the process of displaying imagery and stories about the Nisenan community — her community — and not simply remaining a viewer, watching depictions of her culture from the sidelines, as has traditionally occurred.

“It’s always somebody talking about us, and not engaging with us,” said Covert.

Although Covert initially had fears of cultural appropriation when beginning the art project with Hale, a non-native person creating artwork of native people, the more time she spent with Hale, the more quickly her fears subsided. Whenever Covert thought Hale was going to use an inappropriate picture of the Nisenan for inspiration, Covert would notify the artist, and the artist would take heed.

“If, at any point, (my uneasiness with a piece) had not been received by you,” Covert said to Hale in front of the gallery’s attendees, “it wouldn’t have worked.”

Throughout the past year, Hale herself had many moments of hesitation, fearing her art work to be that of cultural appropriation. At Wednesday’s event, Hale spoke of her anguish, at one point awaking from a dream where she was rummaging through Covert’s drawers at her home. She immediately called Covert and shared her experience.

While still lingering, Hale’s concerns began to ease when she spoke with a poet, and close friend of hers.

“‘This is a shared history of pain,’” he said to her. “Until we face it together, we will never truly heal.’”

The sentiment helped her continue, in addition to Covert’s encouragement. At Wednesday’s gallery, Covert had a lot of appreciation for the artist, as she announced to Hale in front of the gallery’s audience, “Thank you, Jenny, for listening.”

Contact reporter Sam Corey at 530-477-4219 or email him at scorey@theunion.com.

Welcome the year of the boar: Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival and Parade this weekend

The Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival and Parade welcomes the Year of the Boar, on Sunday afternoon. Chinese New Year Festivals are rare in rural communities, and Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS) is proud to present this eighth annual family-friendly celebration, honoring the early Chinese Gold Rush pioneers and railroad workers of the Sierra.

In May 2019, Americans will celebrate the 150th anniversary (the Sesquicentennial) of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory, Utah. The railroad revolutionized travel from one end of the United States to the other. A significant portion of the labor force were Chinese immigrants, who helped build the Central Pacific Railroad (the western portion) of the grand Railroad in the 1860s. As we honor these early immigrants, we hold dear the contributions of all immigrants to this great country of ours.

Stop by the CATS booth staffed by historian, filmmaker, and journalist Bill George of PBS fame to learn more about the Chinese and the railroad. He will have DVDs and books for sale for adults and children.

The community parade begins at noon from the Chinese Monument, located at the entrance to the parking lot on Commercial Street, the site of the old Chinese Quarter. Chinese ceremonial Lion Dancers and a 72-foot Chinese dragon from Eastern Ways Martial Arts of Sacramento will prance down Commercial Street, with Grass Valley Taiko drummers, school children, martial artists and other community entries.

The mini-parade will end at the Three Forks Bakery and Brewery parking lot, where the Lion Dancers and Dragon dancers will spearhead an afternoon of Asian culture and entertainment. Food will be available for sale by Kaliko’s Hawaiian Kitchen and homemade desserts by Xiao Mao (Little CATS Culture Club).

CATS is pleased to honor Erin Thiem and Dan Thiem as the Grand Marshals in the parade. They are the owners of Outside Inn and Inn Town Campground in Nevada City. Erin is passionate about all things Nevada City and writes a weekly blog for the Outside Inn on things to do in our area. She loves capturing life in our small town and sharing with folks near and far.

Dan is happiest while working on a project, but he can be found at the campground helping customers or fixing things at the motel while continuing his volunteer work for the Nevada City Cub Scouts and the Forest Charter School Board. The Outside Inn is thrilled to have celebrated its 20th year in 2018 as a family-run business, with Erin and Dan owning the business for the last eight years. The Inn Town Campground was a labor of love that Erin and Dan built from the ground up; it opened for business in the summer of 2016. The campground offers a mix of tent camping, glamping and RV sites for folks to enjoy a camping experience in the heart of downtown Nevada City.

CATS will have a mini yard sale of its props from various shows at their booth. Alas, it has come time to clean house after 25 years. Come on by the CATS booth and pick up a “treasure.” Donations are accepted, which support our annual festival and parade.

Many thanks to our entertainers who have returned annually. They include Eastern Ways Martial Arts of Sacramento (Chinese Lion and Dragon dancing), Grass Valley Taiko (traditional Japanese Drumming), Ka Hale Hula O Pilialohaokalani O Hilo (Hawaiian Hula), Body Balance (Kung-Fu), Fa Lun Dafa (tai chi, qigong, and meditation) and Xiao Mao (musical presentation).

The parade is weather permitting. If there is heavy rain on Sunday, the event will be cancelled. Check updates on www.catsweb.org and on Facebook. Announcements will be made on KVMR and KNCO radio stations if it is cancelled.

Exhibitors and vendors will populate the parking lot at Three Forks. Parade entries, entertainers, sponsors and volunteers are still being sought. Contact Jeannie Wood at info@catsweb.org. The event is a cultural enrichment program of the Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS). See www.catsweb.org.