The French connection |

The French connection

Malakoff's French Connection Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9.
Submitted photo to Prospector |


WHAT: Malakoff’s French Connection Festival

WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, 23579 North Bloomfield Road, Nevada City.

COST: $5 for parking

When archeologist Mark Selverston embarked on his 2014 investigation of the French contributions and historical presence at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, he couldn’t have known the eventual impact of his team’s findings.

The State Park sponsored study sheds a light on a still-little-known corner of Nevada County, to reveal compelling stories of ingenuity, hardship, discovery, and achievement.

One aspect of the scholarly work has inspired local artist Laura Jane Coats to write an original script, fashion a marionette stage and fabricate marionettes to demonstrate and bring to life the origination of the name “Malakoff.”

Coats has immersed herself in the time immediately following the end of the Crimean War in 1855, imagining the Nevada County atmosphere, and creating a fun, informative, and powerful representation of Malakoff Village and the real persona of Madame Auguste, proprietress of the Hotel de France.

The play, “How Malakoff Got its Name” will have its world premiere at 2 p.m. Sept. 9, at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park.

In addition to the marionette show, popular local band Beaucoup Chapeaux will be contributing to the festive atmosphere, providing their special brand of jubilant and lively eastern European gypsy and world music, on accordion, fiddle, guitar, and clarinet.

To honor the French culture theme, the band will be adding a few choice 18th and 19th century French Canadian tunes to their repertoire.

Park volunteers will showcase the historic buildings and provide historic ambiance in period dress. Guided hikes to the new panels, French-themed picnic style food and beverages, a kid zone with crafts and activities centered on French culture and gold mining era pursuits will round out the day.

The event is free to the public, and supported by the efforts of the Friends of North Bloomfield and Malakoff Diggins. For more information on Malakoff’s French Connection event, visit

Friends of North Bloomfield and Malakoff Diggins mission statement: We enhance the interpretive experience for visitors, promote park-based education for learners of all ages, and support and preserve the natural and cultural resources of Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. They also assist other cooperative associations and the State Park System mission for the benefit of the public.

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