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A treasured tribute to our gold-mine past

Courtney Ferguson
Submitted to Prospector
“Ore” together now, award-winning barbershop quartet, the Forte Miners, will perform by the mine shaft — just before the thrilling mine-rescue reenactment at high noon.
Photo by Courtney Ferguson |

KNOW & GO

WHAT: 122nd Miners Picnic

WHEN: Special activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Empire Mine State Historic Park. 10791 E. Empire St., Grass Valley.

TICKETS: $7 ages 17 & over, $3 ages 6-16, free admission for children under 6 and free parking

INFO: Phone the Visitor Center, 530-273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremineparkassociation.org

“If only our early gold-mine moguls could see the Miners Picnic today, don’t you wonder what they’d say?” Event Chair Steve Sanchez mused. “I think they’d be amazed — and proud that what started back in 1895, the year of the very first Miners Picnic, remains a day our entire community still celebrates.”

While early picnics raised funds to help miners’ widows and orphans, today it’s a glorious way to make Nevada County’s history live again.

Visitors are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets and lunches, and picnic on the shady grounds, in the heart of our history. Food, drinks and Lazy Dog ice cream will be for sale, as well as traditional Cornish pasties, and exclusive “24-Karrat Cakes,” only available at park events.



From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors can enjoy non-stop action and entertainment, starting with a dramatic mine-rescue reenactment at high noon in the Mineyard.

Will the old fire truck get there in time to rescue the injured miners? The more cheering visitors, the better their chances. With barber shop music by the Forte Miners and Dixieland jazz by the Stamp Mill Stompers, there will be plenty of old-time music.




One-man band, Gary Hinze and Fire in the Kitchen are other popular Mineyard attractions.

At 1:15 p.m. Izzi Tooinsky will perform his action-packed show, “A Toy Maker’s Journey through the Gold Rush,” on the special Clubhouse stage.

“Here’s the perfect way to enjoy lunch — and see an outstanding show,” Sanchez said, “as Izzi makes his Miners Picnic debut.”

Later in the afternoon, Past Due and Playable will perform a lively variety of music on the stage, while singer/guitarist Kelly Fleming will perform outside Empire Cottage.

“There will be magic by Peter Franchino, lots of vintage cars on display, charming mini-donkeys in their prospecting gear, balloon sculptures by Bernard Bradshaw, and the Park’s docent musicians, Celtic Joy, plus gold panning and other engaging activities for children. Every Miners Picnic seems to offer more memory-making fun,” Sanchez said.

Miners Picnic will be held on Saturday at Empire Mine State Historic Park. Parking is free, and children under six are admitted free. Everyone’s invited, including well-behaved dogs on leashes. Hosted by Empire Mine Park Association, visitors are encouraged to spend the entire day, and treasure every moment.

For further information, phone the Visitor Center on 530-273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremine.org.

Courtney Ferguson is a freelance writer, as well as Empire Mine Park Association’s Outreach Coordinator.


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