Games, food and music fill the downtown’s Main Street
Cars lined the roadsides and hundreds of people filled Main Street in downtown Angels Camp Saturday for the city’s Centennial Celebration, creating a scene reminiscent of days past when strolling down the unpaved roadway would have been customary for Mother Lode citizens.
Highway 49 was closed to through traffic from Bret Harte High School to the bridge over Angels Creek during event hours. Centennial attendees were transported to the festivities by bus, a quick five-minute ride from either the county fairgrounds or the parking lot at the high school.
There were plenty of booths, businesses and activities to entertain visitors. Utica Park offered a shady respite from the day’s high temperatures and guests could pick up free water from Bret Harte High students as they made their way into the park to listen to classic rock music performed by The Famous Off Brothers.
Suzanne Zemke of Elk Grove was visiting the area with a group of girlfriends for their annual girl’s weekend. Having heard of the Mother Lode’s traditional frog jumping past time she decided to try the activity for herself, giving her frog a gingerly kiss on the head before placing him on his jumping pad.
After a humble hop of 4 feet – the day’s best so far being more than 15 feet – Zemke turned to her friends with the words, “Well, he’s no prince.”
After jumping their frog and washing their hands, guests could walk to one of the nearby food booths. Fresh produce, tacos, roasted corn and traditional street-fair kettle corn were some of the available food options for Centennial attendees, and the line was long at Murphys V Restaurant and Bar’s tent.
“The day’s been going great,” said a busy Elizabeth Jocelyn as she rang up a customer. “We’re almost out of the boar sausage and it’s only 1 p.m. It’s a huge hit.”
Other popular attractions included a cigar rolling booth in the parking lot behind Sue’s Café where food was being served in traditional Gold Rush fashion – out the back door, similar to when miners would take their food pails to the restaurant’s back door to have them filled – historical reenactments complete with faux Western-style gun fights, a scavenger hunt for kids, additional live music, gold panning and a soap box derby.
Intermixed with the flip-flops, shorts and baseball caps of today’s modern style were people dressed in traditional attire of the 1800s. Those dressed in historical clothing played the part of their personas and blended well with Main Street’s newly renovated historical facades. Nicki Pambrum and Ray Ladd greeted each other with courtesies rarely expressed in today’s busy world. As they parted Ladd tipped his hat and Pambrum offered a small curtsy in return.
“People seem really happy,” said Shelby French, representing Angels Camp Business Association at a booth situated outside the crowded visitors center where people lined up along the sidewalk and filled the parking lot to watch a gunfight reenactment.
“Other than the heat the day’s been going really well. I’ve had a ton of inquiries and phone calls this week from folks from out of town wanting to know about parking and lodging, I know the Travelodge was filling up quickly the other day. We were lucky to have great advanced coverage of the event.”
The city’s Centennial Celebration also provided business to other regions of the county outside of Angels Camp. Some visitors, like Zemke and her group of friends, were planning on visiting Murphys after the celebration to do some wine tasting and visit the surrounding area.
“It’s such a nice weekend, this is a nice way to get out and visit this part of northern California,” she said.
For those who missed out on attending the weekend’s fair they need not worry, the celebration will come around again in another 100 years.