Even before we get to the third weekend of May, that special four-day moment every year when we get to enjoy the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, we have too much to do in Calaveras County. The first weekend has so much going on I’m not sure I can get everywhere.

May has always been the home of the Gold Rush Writer’s Conference, which returns to the Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill from May 3 to 5.

“The goal of the Gold Rush Writers Conference is to provide creative writers of all levels a chance to learn from established professionals through workshops, lectures, panels and readings,” said a release. “Limited to 80 participants, the conference prides itself on its intimacy and charm. Opportunities abound for networking and developing community with like-minded individuals who share a passion for the written word. Even those who just love to listen are encouraged to attend.”

The conference started in 2005 and has been very well-received. Scribes from all over Northern California stream into Moke Hill to learn from writers who’ve been there and done that.

“Over the years, nearly 800 individuals have benefited from the conference, and numerous attendees choose to return year after year,” the release said.

“This year, we are featuring two prominent best-selling authors: Kathleen Kent and Joe Quirk,” said Executive Director Sally Kaplan. “Both presenters will focus on the importance of suspense in any form of writing to keep the reader interested.

May is a hoppin’ month

Kathleen Kent and Joe Quirk are featured presenters at the Gold Rush Writer’s Conference.

“In addition to her expertise in historical fiction, best-selling author Kathleen Kent is well versed in crime-writing, a popular genre which offers serious potential for publication. The New York Times picked her most recent book, ‘The Dime,’ as one of its ‘Latest and Greatest’ in crime fiction.”

May 3 features a picnic supper in a Victorian garden – complete with some open mic time – and the sleeves get rolled up for a full day of workshops and more on May 4. Saturday ends with a dinner followed by a presentation by bestselling novelist Kent. Members of the public can enjoy Kent’s presentation for $5 (at the door).

May is a hoppin’ month

Kathleen Kent and Joe Quirk are featured presenters at the Gold Rush Writer’s Conference.

May 5 includes more workshops, and the conference winds down with a lunch and presentation by Quirk. Other presenters include Antoinette May, Erika Mailman, Kaplan, Kevin Arnold, Lucy Sanna, Amy Smith, Monika Rose, Anara Guard, Kathy Boyd Fellure, Indigo Moor and Kathie Isaac-Luke.

Marianne Barisonek, a freelance journalist from Portland, Ore., said, “I’ve attended twice and would go again in a heartbeat. The quality of the workshops has been outstanding. You’ll meet interesting people and be inspired. If you want to try a writer’s conference without spending a fortune, this is a good place to start.”

“Ongoing, but still appealing, is that our conference offers a variety of genres, interactive workshops on craft, attention to nuts and bolts issues such as finding an agent and publishing, and readings and presentations that are open to public and popular with those who just want to listen,” Kaplan said.

To view the schedule and sign up, visit goldrushwriters.com or call Kaplan at 310-927-6929.

May is a hoppin’ month

Madison Pelland, left, Leah Cottrell, Madison Gonzalez and Giselle Palma hit the moves in rehearsals for the “Student Showcase” in Angels Camp.

On May 3 and 4, dancers from the Studio 4 School of Dance in Vallecito present their “Student Showcase” at the Bret Harte Theater in Angels Camp.

“Three senior dancers – Leah Cottrell, Ruby Eustis-Smith and Madison Pelland – direct this year’s Studio 4 Dance Theater ‘Student Showcase’ with the help of Tammie Lee, artistic director,” says a release. “In addition to the senior dancers, other company dancers audition to have their music selections and choreography chosen to be a part of the show. Various musical selections and dance styles will be showcased at this year’s performance. Dancers from ages 7-18 will be thrilling the audience with their performances in jazz, tap, contemporary, hip hop and ballet.”

The performances are a kind of sendoff to the most senior dancers in the young troupe.

“Each year Studio 4 Dance Theater must say goodbye to their senior dancers as they graduate high school and move on,” the release said. “This performance gives them an opportunity to display their talents.”

“My experience at Studio 4 has been unlike any other,” said Cottrell. “For the past six years, Tammie (Lee) has created a safe place that I am proud to call my second home. The studio is a place for me to express myself and a place for me to let everything go. Tammie has prepared me for my future in dance. Being able to co-direct the ‘Student Showcase’ has been such an amazing opportunity. Next year I will be attending Loyola Marymount University, where I will be double majoring in dance and public relations. I am also honored to be a full-time athlete on the LMU Dance Team.”

Eustis-Smith won’t forget her experiences with the group.

“I made all of my best friends here, I found my passion and love for dance, and I met Tammie,” she said. “We always have so much fun and we get to share knowledge with the younger dancers. I know I want to continue to dance in college and after college because of Studio 4 and Tammie Lee.”

May is a hoppin’ month

Rehearsals for the “Student Showcase” help Studio 4 Dance Theater members perfect their steps for May 3 and 4 shows.

Pelland appreciates the fact that she got to help teach younger dancers in the company.

“It has given me the ability to teach, learn and understand how dance can impact one’s self and the community,” Pelland said. “I have learned the skills it takes to be a dancer, but also life skills such as communication, responsibility and time management. I have been able to pass on my love for dance through teaching and performing in various shows. There is not one moment that I take for granted.”

May is a hoppin’ month

Tammie Lee, left, leads Studio 4 Dance Theater students through their paces in Vallecito.

“I have had such an amazing experience dance with Studio 4 Dance Theater,” Jarnigan said. “I have grown so much with Tammie Lee as my teacher/mentor and with these wonderful girls I call family. I started ballet with Tammie when I was 9 years old and fell in love with the art. Dancing with Studio 4 has given me an outlet that I will carry for the rest of my life. I will be attending the University of Arizona, majoring in psychology. I will most likely be taking dance classes and keeping up with the sport as I get older.”

The performances are at 7 p.m. May 3 and 3 p.m. May 4. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for youths by calling Jeannette Palma at 626-840-9221, or at the theater an hour before each show.

Also on May 4, you can fill your belly with flavorful chili at the Soroptimist Chili Cook-off on the lawn outside the Murphys Hotel on Main Street in Murphys. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., cooks brew their batches of chili and you and I get to sample them all. And if you thought Plan B had retired, it didn’t, because the popular band will be there performing live music.

May is a hoppin’ month

A delighted winner receives her barbecue basket at the Soroptimist International of Calaveras County Chili Cook-off in 2018.

“There is definitely a race for the trophies between the Darby Red Apple Chili Team and the Biker Girls Duo, Stephanie and Dawn,” said Soroptimist Paulette Stelte, regarding the clash of the cooks. “There is serious competition from all teams, including the Columbia College Culinary Team, who rolled in with the best-judged chili last year! This year’s judges are famous Mother Lode restaurant chefs Jenny Baxter (A Catered Affair), Celeste Lusher (Crusco’s) and Sally Hughes (the Elegant Owl).”

This year’s theme is “Derby de Mayo,” and tasters and cooks should wear their best Kentucky Derby hats because there are prizes for the best. There are also drawings for baskets of goodies.

Proceeds from the event help Soroptimist International of Calaveras County assist women of all ages with attaining higher education and more. For more, visit sicalaverascounty.org or call 753-9700.

We know that most of the county eases off on staging fundraisers and events because of the county fair, but the end of this month has a lot of fun waiting for people ready to support the Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program. The Party: Boots and Bling is May 26 at Vida Buena Farm in Vallecito.

“The Party is moving out to the barn!” says a release. “Grab your boots and bling … The atmosphere will be relaxed yet festive in celebration of this year’s ‘Boots and Bling’ theme …”

The fundraiser supports the program that matches supportive adults with children who need a little extra. Relationships develop between these adults and youngsters, and the results are incredible to watch, as perhaps withdrawn youths emerge with newfound strength and resiliency. If you have the time, there is a waiting list of youngsters who need a hand, so contact the mentoring program to learn more.

The Party is taking a turn with the 2019 event. Instead of formal sit-down dinner, there will be barbecued goodies served so revelers can mix and mingle all evening long at seating scattered throughout the venue. The Slade Rivers Band plays live music for dancing, and who knows if a line dance with get going. The will be a live auction and drawings, too.

“This year’s treasure chest keys are just $50 for a chance to win a trip to Nashville or New Orleans, designed exclusively for the winner …”

Tickets are $40 each, available at calaverasmentoring.org or 736-7706.

So before and after the Calaveras County Fair, support women and youths and revel in the written word and some fancy footwork.

Send word on your Calaveras County events to mtaylor@sierralodestar.com.

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