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Mountain Men and Saloon Girls Call You to French Gulch

If you head to French Gulch this Saturday, Aug. 27, don’t be surprised if a few flirty saloon girls wave to you from a balcony, Annie Oakley shows you her shooting skills and bandits hijack a stagecoach at high noon.

It’s all part of French Gulch Old West Day, said Lou White, who is organizing the festivities along with his wife, Kathleen. They live in “the suburbs” of French Gulch, a tiny town of “300 or 400, depending on how far out you go” on Trinity Mountain Road, north of Highway 299, White said. Saturday’s full-day event is a fundraiser for the town’s volunteer firefighters’ auxiliary.

“The community got together and said, you know, everybody’s kind of forgotten about us out here in the woods, so we need to make a big splash,” White said.

Old West Day begins with a pancake breakfast from 7:30 a.m. til about 9. A parade with marching band, antique tractors and the “Law Dawgs” re-enactors will span the whole town from 9:30 to 10 a.m.

“Of course, if you’ve ever been to French Gulch, you know it’ll be  a very short parade,” White said. “Town is only four or five blocks long, if you look at it in blocks.”

Mountain men re-enactors will camp out and demonstrate what everyday life was like way back when. A blacksmith will be working behind Johnny’s bar, and the Law Dawgs will overtake a stagecoach in front of the French Gulch Hotel at noon. Line dancers, square dancers, and multiple musical groups, including the Ryan Mountain Boys (wandering town) and the Lou White Band (playing from 5 to 8 p.m. on the hotel’s stage), will entertain the crowds. About 50 craft and food vendors plan to sell their wares, and the hotel will serve a barbecue dinner and feature either a wine or beer tasting, White said.

Park just about anywhere you like, White said, but a stagecoach will shuttle visitors in from the school, found on Cline Gulch Road after driving through town.

On today’s A La Carte Menu:

Fresh fruits and veggies … The U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its National Farmers Market Directory. The annual report lists 7,175 farmers’ markets across the country, including 729 in California. The online directory is searchable and includes maps. While the directory seems like it should be a great resource, I can’t vouch for its accuracy. For example, it still lists the Thursday night market at MarketFest in downtown Redding, which was canceled this year. The directory, just as it has in the past, also includes a “Redding Gardner’s Farmers Market” on Tuesdays somewhere on South Market Street. To the best of my knowledge, the market does not exist. On the other hand, the directory appears to miss weekly farmers’ markets in Anderson, Cottonwood, Palo Cedro and Shingletown. My suggestion: Rely on the Healthy Shasta website for Shasta County farmers’ market times and locations. When looking for out-of-town farmers markets – which is something I do whenever I’m traveling – use the USDA directory as a starting point. If you’re unfamiliar with the market, make contact with a market organizer ahead of time.

Raise your voice … VOICES, a group of female victims of family violence, meets from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, August 26, at the Shasta Family Justice Center office, 1670 Market Street, suite 300, (above Leatherby’s) in Redding. The group invites “survivors with passion, enthusiasm and commitment to help others find their voice.” Lunch and childcare will be provided. To sign up in advance, call 243-8868.

Know your history … A collection of public agencies and nonprofit organizations will mark the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides and the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 28, at the MLK Multicultural Center, 1815 Sheridan Street, in Redding. Dinner is scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by a showing of the documentary and musical tribute “A Soundtrack for a Revolution.” For more information, call the MLK Center at (530) 225-4375. By the way, writer Calvin Trillin, who covered the civil rights movement for Time magazine, had some poignant and painful observations of both that era and today in a recent edition of The New Yorker.

Two-fer Tuesdays … I have fond, although hazy, college memories of two-for-one drink specials on Tuesdays at Sacramento watering holes. I haven’t found similar boozy offers in Anderson, but the Chamber of Commerce and merchants are organizing a “Shop Tuesday” campaign. For example, you get free popcorn with your Prime Cinemas ticket on Tuesdays. Wear a Burrito Bandito T-shirt into the restaurant on Tuesday and they’ll hand you a free taco. Other businesses are paying the sales tax for purchases made on Tuesdays. Clever marketing during these lean times. Now, where are those two-for-one drink specials?

Paul Shigley is a freelance journalist based in Western Shasta County, CA, and deserves a free taco. He may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

Paul is on vacation; today’s Take-Out Window is by Kimberly Ross, A La Carte by Paul Shigley.

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