July is one of those months that I think gets a bad rap. It’s all over after the first week, if you consider that this often sweltering month begins with our nation’s birthday. That’s certainly reason to jump in the lake, march down the main street of town or revel in some rockets’ red glare, but the rest of July should not be discounted.
With July 4 on a Thursday, only Mokelumne Hill is holding its Fourth of July shindig on the actual holiday. Count on the pancake breakfast in the Moke Hill Town Hall from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. (to support the maintenance on the town hall and other community facilities), then plant yourself along Main Street for the wonderful parade that steps off at 11 a.m. After the fire trucks, classic cars and kids make their way through town (some maybe twice!), booths are about offering goodies and there are games for the kids down in Shutter Tree Park.
Not to miss a chance for a party, the Murphys Hotel is opening up its parking lot for a bring-your-own fireworks party from 6 to 10 p.m. with Brian Jirka playing some tunes. Beverages and foods are sold, and all ages can enjoy some safe-and-sane excitement.
It’s Saturday, July 6 that finds the Arnold Independence Day Parade jumping onto Highway 4 at 10 a.m. Later that day, live music and more activities welcome guests to the Ironstone Amphitheatre outside Murphys. That Independence Day Celebration features hot blues music by Shane Dwight and fireworks after dark. See the calendar for more details on both events.
After the fun in Arnold on July 6, you might head still farther east along Highway 4 to visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Me-Wuk of the Big Trees is presented at 2 p.m. inside Jack Knight Hall there by the Calaveras Big Trees Association.
Carlos Geisdorff, representing the Tuolumne Tribal Council, and the Me-Wuk language program manager, discusses the native people who lived around the state park before the natural expanse was even a glimmer in a settler’s eye. He’ll uncover some interesting facts about their cultures, tell some of their stories and even share some artifacts.
The presentation is free to enjoy, but park admission is $10 per vehicle at the entry kiosk. After the presentation, there should be no better time to explore the giant sequoias that you haven’t visited in a while.
Later in July, the third weekend promises a lot of fun, and it’s all centered in Murphys. First is a fun event sure to work out your legs as much as your brain, as the inaugural Feeney Fling welcomes disc golfers to the beautiful course at Feeney Park, off Pennsylvania Gulch Road just past Michelson Elementary School in Murphys. For just $15, you get to play through the 18-hole course with others as the links are set up with fantastical lights.
This July 19 tournament finds disc throwers converging at 6:30 p.m. to sign up. Special challenges are staged at 7:30 p.m., with prizes for the winners. The tournament starts at moonrise, with holes bedecked in colorful LEDs. Participants are heartily encouraged to attend in costumes (I’d suggest that the more lights you wear, the better!).
Organizers with the Feeney Park Foundation – which is supported by this event – suggest participants bring their illuminated discs (some will be on sale at the event), water to keep you competing, and spectators to come cheer you on. The entry fee gets participants a disc light and attachment components, a glow bracelet and necklace, a ticket for a drawing for prizes, and, “A warm feeling inside knowing that you helped to support Feeney Park Disc Golf,” a release says.
The release also says challenge winners will demonstrate “eccentricity” and “energy” with their illuminated costumes and excitement. Proceeds will help improve the disc golf course, and I can vouch for its fun, tricky play. I slung discs during a tourney many years ago and the course rambles throughout Feeney Park.
That same weekend is Murphys Homecoming, which celebrates the town’s past with several excitements. This is the town’s 170th birthday; and 2019 is also the 70th anniversary of the adorable Murphys Old Timers Museum.
On July 19, the museum presents a birthday party with a nice barbecue at Murphys Community Park from 5 to 9 p.m. Ron Fillmore, who has been on the museum’s board of directors for some time, tells me that along with the great grub, the former drummer for the California rock band Snail is working to amass a big group of the area’s seasoned musicians.
“I am calling on all of my musician friends that I have known around here since the ’70s,” said Fillmore. “I’m calling it the Calaveras/Tuolumne All Star Jam.”
Some area acts will perform miniature sets, and the All Star Jam will surely keep the crowd jumpin’ and jivin’.
Tickets for the barbecue are $12 at the event (cheaper for kids)..
The museum, at 470 Main St., Murphys, features a huge collection of artifacts from in and immediately around Murphys. It’s open from noon to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and is free to visit. I always recommend leaving a nice donation so this treasure chest of Gold Rush history can be properly preserved. Members of the museum also conduct walking tours at 10 a.m. Saturdays that depart from the front door.
Murphys Homecoming is Saturday, July 20. It finds townsfolk gathering at Murphys Community Park. The 71st annual celebration of the founding of the Murphys Diggins starts at 11 a.m. A wide variety of things to do for all ages includes a waterslide and dunk tank, a cake walk, a bounce house and a juggling clinic. Local “celebrities” get locked in the hoosegow, that is, in the ancient pokey at the park, where their friends can hopefully bail them out.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Calaveras Community Band performs under the direction of Mic Harper. The group that traces its heritage to the Gold Rush days plays a wide range of music from Sousa marches to popular show tunes.
Following the band concert, the ever-popular Plan B takes center stage to play music until 4 p.m.
At noon, the Old Timers Luncheon, served by members of the Native Daughters of the Golden West and hosted by the Murphys Senior Center, provides free lunch for residents of Murphys, Douglas Flat or Vallecito who have lived in the area for at least 10 years and reached the age of 70. This year the luncheon will be served inside the Native Daughters Hall, 268 Main St., Murphys. Reservations must be made for anyone who’d like to attend by calling Sue Friedman at 728-8183. Those who don’t fit the residency requirements pay a little something for their meal. Also of important note is the fact that the cutoff date for reservations is July 15.
Back at the park, at 1 p.m., the first of three duck races is staged to support the Calaveras Youth Mentoring Foundation. The nonprofit supports the Calaveras Youth Mentoring Program that does so much for the county’s kids, and the Murphys Duck Races makes for a great time at the park.
There are three different “races” staged in Angels Creek. After each “heat,” children help wrangle and collect the hundreds of rubber duckies that just floated past the park.
“To make the races fair for everyone, winners are randomly selected from among all ‘duck purchasers’ during the race,” says calaverasmentoring.org. You can purchase your yellow racer at select times in front of Sierra Hills Market or by calling the foundation at 736-7706.
The summer sun might suggest we stay indoors huddled around the air-conditioner ducts, but with too many free and paid concerts – and fund and fun-raisers like these in the works, you’d be silly to stay inside. Come on out and enjoy the season.
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