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What a Rush! Gold Rush Days Return to Old Sacramento Over Labor Day Weekend

Get ready to turn back time to the turbulent 1850s when Gold Rush Days (& Nights!) return to Old Sacramento over the extended Labor Day Weekend through September 4.

Sacramento’s unique, diverse and fascinating Gold Rush history takes center stage during this annual heritage event that begins with an Education Day on Friday (primarily for school groups) then kicks into high gear for the general public with a wide variety of fun and entertaining activities that take place throughout the historic district to help visitors experience what life was like during this important time in the city’s past. Plus, new this year – and coinciding with Gold Rush Days – Old Sacramento M7 Con (formerly known as the Western Film Festival) will be happening simultaneously at various venues throughout the district to the delight of film buffs and history enthusiasts alike.

Gold Rush Days is a signature event for the historic district showcased by interesting, lively and wildly entertaining activities for Old Sacramento guests to experience and enjoy. While some special activities and offerings are ticketed (prices vary), an impressive line-up of free, live entertainment will be available on the streets and various stages throughout Old Sacramento.

Daily Activities

  • The ever-popular, hands-on and interpretive Tent City depicts daily life during the Gold Rush;
  • Live music, magic, dancing and children’s shows are offered at various venues throughout the historic district including the (air-conditioned) Eagle Theater;
  • Attention-grabbing historic cannon firings are always sure to capture attention;
  • Hands-on children’s activities such as gold panning, storytelling and games;
  • Exciting street theater and entertaining mining camp theatrics;
  • Champion “Jeremiah the Juggler” and many more street singers, roving musicians and medicine show swindlers;
  • Engaging melodramas performed by talented re-enactors in period apparel – examples include one focused on a riveting Ladies Duel, another that spotlights a scandalous old-time Murder –
  • Trial, the arrival of Mail Order Brides and one that features the visually spectacular Gold Rush Fire Brigade, just to name a few;
  • Horse-drawn carriages and wagon rides plus an expanded schedule of excursion train rides, underground tours and new Gold Fever! tours (all ticketed activities);
  • Tasty treats and beverages are available for purchase in the dozens of local eateries and bars along with homemade sarsaparilla, draft ale, local wines, and more available throughout Old Sacramento;
  • Stroll down to Pioneer Park to enjoy the splash, crash and laughs created at a dunk tank set up for the festival.

In addition to the ever-popular daily activities, special activities and evening events are offered as part of Gold Rush Days (and Nights!), including a Friday night Gold Rush Beer Crawl, a Saturday Street Party & Country Dance – with headliner and national recording artist and country music sensation Buck Ford – and two free outdoor movie showings on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Special Event & Extended Evening Activities

  • A Friday night Gold Rush Beer Crawl at nine participating bars in Old Sacramento (a ticketed activity for adults ages 21 and over, tickets are on sale now);
  • A fun and free Saturday night vibrant Country Dance & Street Party on L Street (between L Street & Firehouse Alley) complete with live music provided by Buck Ford and line dancing demos and lessons will be available. To get the party started early, a Beer Garden will be in in place beginning at 11 a.m. until the County Dance ends at 10 p.m. For those who dare, a mechanical bull will also be available beginning at 11 a.m. for $7 per ride. Also, Sactown Sports Bar will be barbecuing sausages, hot dogs, and tacos (for purchase) and live acoustic music will play in the garden. Games like Cornhole Toss, Jenga, and more will be provided. Note the Beer Garden will temporarily close at 5 to allow for Country Dance setup; Beer and mechanical bull tokens are available at the Info Booths and in the Beer Garden.
  • Two free outdoor movie showings on Saturday and Sunday evenings at 8 p.m. on the 1849 Scene (grassy area in front of the California State Railroad Museum). The free outdoor movies include McLintock!, 1963 American western comedy film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, on Saturday and Back to the Future III, a 1990 American science fiction and western film starring Michael J Fox.
  • Then, on Labor Day Monday only, a grand finale statehood celebratory procession – complete with a brass band, wagons, horses, donkeys, Living History characters, street performers and more – will take place beginning at 1 p.m. starting at the Eagle Theater with optimal public viewing along the route on J, Second, L and Front Streets.

Old Sacramento M7 Con
A companion event in conjunction with Gold Rush Days, special M7 Con (formerly known as the Western Film Festival) activities will be happening at various venues throughout the historic district from September 1-3, 2017. As background, the Old Sacramento M7 Con was created to celebrate the 1998-2000 television series The Magnificent Seven along with the actors, characters, fans and crew.

The convention will host actor Dale Midkiff (Pet Sematary, Hallmark Channel’s Love Comes Softly, Elvis & Me) along with other western actors to include autograph sessions, photo-op sessions & Q&A sessions. We will also have western historians participating in panel discussions about the Old West. As a highlight, M7 Con guests will see a premiere screening of a brand-new film 21 Outs, starring Dale Midkiff, in a theater inside the California State Railroad Museum. Dale Midkiff, along with the producers of the film, will be there to hold a Q&A session and to sign autographs and take photos with fans.

Old Sacramento M7 Con is a ticketed event; more detailed information and tickets are available at m7con.org. Additionally, Old Sacramento M7 Con will include a special Vendor Village open to the public set up on I Street in front of the California State Railhttp://www.m7con.orgroad Museum from Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gold Rush Days 2017 is produced by the Old Sacramento District Office, sponsored by the City of Sacramento and Visit Sacramento and supported by California State Parks, California State Railroad Museum Foundation, CBS13 and Good Day, Sacramento History Alliance, KSEG 96.9FM and 106.5FM The End, along with participating Old Sacramento vendors and businesses.

Admission to Gold Rush Days 2017 is free and official event hours are as follows: Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Education Day for school groups); Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Monday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to the official daytime event hours, times vary for the evening activities, some of which are ticketed and sell out quickly. For a complete listing of activities or more information about the 2017 Gold Rush Days (& Nights!), please visit OldSacramento.com.

About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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