122nd Miners Picnic at Empire Mine in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

122nd Miners Picnic at Empire Mine in Grass Valley

You never know who you’ll meet at the Miners Picnic – maybe the Bourns, the Starrs or big-hearted housekeeper Katie Moriarty.
Photo submitted by Richard Bannister |

Know & Go

Event: 122nd Miners Picnic

Date: Aug. 26

Time: Special activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Venue: Empire Mine State Historic Park

Address: 10791 E. Empire St., Grass Valley

Tickets: $7 ages 17 & over, $3 ages 6-16, free for children under 6. Parking is free

Information: Call the visitor center, 530-273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremine.org

According to Miners Picnic chairperson Steve Sanchez, the Miners Picnic is a local event that has been a popular tradition since 1895.

“Last year around 1,500 visitors came to celebrate the day at Empire Mine State Historic Park,” Sanchez said. “In fact, many came from neighboring counties, states — and even other countries.”

The special activities will begin at 11 a.m. on Aug. 26 with the Stamp Mill Stompers playing that “new-fangled” Dixieland jazz under the Assay Office porch near the Mineyard entrance, while a barber shop quartet, the Forte Miners, will perform by the mine shaft — just before the mine-rescue reenactment at high noon.

More music is scheduled by one-man-band, Gary Hinze, old-time tunes by Fire in the Kitchen and donkeys all set to go prospecting; the Mineyard will have lots of activities.

Visitors may bring their own lunches, chairs and blankets and picnic on the shady grounds near the 1905 Clubhouse. Food, beverages 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.

That’s where a balloon sculptor, a face painter, a magician, a mountain man, and music by Celtic Joy will join in. With vintage cars and an old-fashioned cakewalk, it’s expected to feel like a return trip to the early 1900s.

“One of the day’s highlights will be A Toymaker’s Journey through the Gold Rush, performed by multi-talented Izzy Tooinsky,” Sanchez said. “In fact, he will make his debut performance at Miners Picnic on the Clubhouse Stage at 1:15 p.m. This creative, interactive show should enchant both children and adults alike. Another new attraction is popular local band, Past Due and Playable, and they’ll perform next.”

In Empire Cottage, visitors make take in tales from the past by entertaining docents in period costumes, with popular singer/guitarist Kelly Fleming performing in the garden from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

“Don’t forget the gold panning, the special children’s crafts, the raffle prizes and the silent auction,” Sanchez said. “Miners Picnic is an action-packed event, and everyone’s invited. I encourage visitors to spend the whole day, and enjoy each and every aspect.”

Tickets may be purchased at the Visitor Center on the day. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome.

Early Miners Picnics, dating back to 1895, helped raise funds for miners’ widows and orphans, injured miners and out-of-work miners. More recently this event is hosted by Empire Mine Park Association. The association is dedicated to maintaining and improving the park, and ensuring its future. For further information, phone the Visitor Center on (530) 273-8522 or visit http://www.empiremine.org

Source: Courtney Ferguson, a freelance writer, and Empire Mine Park Association’s Outreach Coordinator.

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