People remember when the Shasta Art Fair and Old-Time Fiddle Jamboree was held at the Shasta State Historic Park. It then spent a number of years at Shasta Elementary School.
The nearly four-decade old event has a new home at the Shasta Middle Creek Mining Camp (off Highway 299 just east of Old Shasta). Nestled among the manzanita, oak and pines, where turn-of-the-century miners actually used to work, the fair’s new setting really fits the old-time feeling of the event.
Youngsters try their hands at gold panning.
The event opened today (Saturday) and continues from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Because parking is limited, the best way to reach the fair is to take a shuttle bus from Shasta High School. The shuttles run throughout the day and there’s not much of a wait whether you’re coming or going.
In addition to several art, clothing and food vendors, there’s the opportunity to ride a stagecoach on the old road that leads to the site of the Ruggles brothers robbery.
Blacksmiths come in all ages.
There’s also a blacksmith shop, gold panning, cannons and old firearms (which get fired quite often), restored cars from the early 1900s, and an American Indian shelter.
The shuttle is free, but tickets to the event are $4. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and sturdy shoes are recommended. The site, leased from the BLM, is on undulating hill country that probably looks a lot like it did back in the Gold Rush era.
Some folks may be taking a wait-and-see approach to the new venue, but the rustic site really worked for me. It was a blast to sit on hay bales and watch the old-time fiddlers perform. There was something timeless about watching the cutest young critters you’ve ever seen playing their fiddles, mandolins and guitars right alongside older veteran players. There was a lot of talent from every age group.
On another stage, the folksy band Manzanita played Byrds covers and more. Loved the picking and harmonies by Bruce Webb, Dick Sorensen and Nadine Williams.
The fiddlers will be back on Sunday and at 2 p.m., I’ll even try my hand at a little newgrass music with some fine friends.
One warning: Keep an eye on the weather, as there may be a chance of some rain.