122nd Miners Picnic a treasured tribute to our gold-mine past
Know & Go
Event: 122nd Miners Picnic
Date: Saturday, Aug. 26
Time: Special activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Venue: Empire Mine State Historic Park
Tickets: $7, ages 17 & over; $3, ages 6–16; free admission for children under 6
plus free parking
By Courtney Ferguson
“Since 1895, the Miners Picnic is a local event that has become a popular tradition. Last year around 1,500 visitors came to celebrate the day at Empire Mine State Historic Park,” says event chair Steve Sanchez. “In fact, many came from neighboring counties, states — and even other countries.”
The special activities will begin at 11 a.m. with the Stamp Mill Stompers playing that “new-fangled” Dixieland jazz under the Assay Office porch near the Mineyard entrance, while award-winning barbershop quartet, the Forte Miners, will perform by the mine shaft — just before the mine-rescue reenactment at high noon. The Mineyard will have lots of activities, with more music by one-man-band, Gary Hinze, old-time tunes by “Fire in the Kitchen” and donkeys all set to go prospecting.
Visitors may bring their own lunches, chairs and blankets — and picnic on the shady grounds near the 1905 Clubhouse. Food, beverages and lots of Lazy Dog ice cream will be for sale, as well as traditional Cornish pasties and exclusive “24-Karrat Cakes,” only available at Park events.
Here’s where a balloon sculptor, a face painter, a magician, a mountain man and music by “Celtic Joy” will add to the fun. With vintage cars (including military vehicles) and an old-fashioned cakewalk, it’s going to feel like a return trip to the early 1900s.
“One of the day’s highlights,” Sanchez says, “will be ‘A Toymaker’s Journey through the Gold Rush,’ performed by multi-talented Izzy Tooinsky. 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 will enjoy 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 adds. “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.”
Miners Picnic takes place on Saturday, Aug. 26. Tickets may be purchased at the Visitor Center on the day, and admission is $7 for those 17 and over, $3 for ages 6–16, with free admission for children under 6. Parking is free and well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome too. Each Miners Picnic is a unique experience, with something new and different to discover.
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 (EMPA, for short). EMPA is the association 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
Courtney Ferguson is a freelance writer, as well as Empire Mine Park Association’s Outreach Coordinator.
Photos, credits & captions:
Docents with picnic basket, photo by Richard Bannister
You never know who you’ll meet at the Miners Picnic – maybe the Bourns, the Starrs or big-hearted housekeeper Katie Moriarty.
Women in red, vintage car, photo by Courtney Ferguson
It’s a day to celebrate our past, and the many historic milestones Nevada County has witnessed through the years. Visitors are encouraged to spend the day.
Gold-panning donkeys and pony, photo by Richard Bannister
These gritty little prospecting donkeys and their pony friend are a popular attraction, stealing hearts as they walk around the Park with their Wild West owners.
Stamp Mill Stompers band, photo by Courtney Ferguson
Lively 1920s’ style jazz will be performed by the Stamp Mill Stompers, in the Mineyard in the morning, and later, on the Clubhouse Stage.
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