Category Archives: Events & Happenings

Public invited to celebrate Bridgeport Covered Bridge groundbreaking

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The public is invited to attend the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the stabilization project for the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, located in the South Yuba River State Park on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at the entrance of the bridge. The Bridgeport Covered Bridge has been an important part of California’s history for over 150 years, and is the longest single span wood covered bridge left in the world.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony will be held in front of the Bridge at Noon with local officials, State Park staff and other community leaders instrumental in the effort to save the Bridge.

“That work to restore and reopen our beloved bridge will commence on the day after Labor Day is an auspicious moment. Working with the dedicated members of the Save Our Bridge Committee has been a labor of love and a testament to what we can do when we unite as a community,” said Caleb Dardick, Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League.

The $1.5 million stabilization and restoration project has two phases. In Phase I, contractors will stabilize the bridge to help secure the structure before a more comprehensive restoration can be completed.b. The stabilization work is scheduled to be completed by December 30, 2014. Phase II will include the repair and restoration of the bridge so that it is sound, safe and reopened to the public. The planning, permitting and engineering work necessary for Phase II is scheduled to begin in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

“Thanks to the huge outpouring of community support and leadership of our elected officials at the State, County and municipal levels, this project is now moving forward and funding for both phases of construction has been achieved,” said Doug Moon, Chair of the Save Our Bridge Committee.

“The bridge is a very important part of California State parks, and we are looking forward to this restoration, so that future generations and visitors to the park can continue to enjoy this unique piece of history,” said Matt Green, Sierra District Sector Superintendent, California State Parks.Built in 1862, the 229-foot Bridgeport Covered Bridge has been closed to the public since 2011 due to safety concerns over severe structural problems. In Fiscal Year 2012/13, the South Yuba State Park had 890,000 visitors, most coming from different parts of the world to see the Bridge.

For more information about the Bridge, please visit

14th Annual Nevada City Film Festival

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The 14th Annual Nevada City Film Festival (NCFF) kicks off September 4-7, 2014 in historic Nevada City, CA. Every summer, NCFF makes art into a party, bringing emerging and top independent filmmakers showcasing award-winning short and feature length films from around the world to the Sierra Foothills. The four-day celebration of art, music, and independent filmmaking, includes film screenings, workshops, special performances, and a live comedy show. NBC Bay Area called it “one of the fun and funkiest” film festivals in California.

NCFF has also been called the “Sundance of the Sierra” (Sacramento News & Review) for its emphasis on fiercely independent cinema by showcasing innovative, progressive and exciting new voices in film. Each year, NCFF attends major film festivals, collaborates with film schools around the world, reads countless film blogs, and watches the hundreds of films submitted, to narrow it all down to the very best in independent film. From feature-length documentaries to world premiere animated shorts, NCFF brings in the buzzed-about festival winners, as well as some of independent cinema’s best-kept secrets.

This year’s opening night feature is Creep, the directorial debut of Nevada County native Patrick Brice. The darkly humorous found-footage thriller stars Brice as a videographer who answers a cryptic Craigslist ad placed by the titular creep (played by Mark Duplass). Alex Williams of the Daily Texan called it “smart, unsettling, and refreshingly self-aware” and Time Magazine named it “one of the 10 movies that made SXSW spectacular.” Creep premiered at SXSW in Austin, TX this spring and quickly launched Brice into a elite group of independent directors. Alejandro Jodorowsky named checked him in an interview, Creep was optioned as a trilogy and Brice was asked to direct Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman in the indie comedy The Overnight. Creep screens, Thursday, September 4 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center.

Another one of this year’s special guests is comedian Marc Maron from IFC’s hit series “Maron” and the popular podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.” Maron will headline NCFF’s Live Comedy show on Friday, September 5 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. Two performances are scheduled for 8 and 10:30pm. For over twenty years, Maron has been writing and performing raw, honest and thought-provoking comedy for print, stage, radio, web and television.

A legend in the stand-up community, Maron has appeared on Louie, Letterman, Leno, Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Real Time with Bill Maher, John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up, and The Green Room. Maron’s podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, premiered in September 2009 and has featured compelling monologues and interviews with iconic personalities such as Conan O’Brien, Louis CK, Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Judd Apatow and Ben Stiller. It has become a worldwide phenomenon averaging 2.5-3 million downloads each month. His IFC comedy series Maron is currently in its second season.

Internationally recognized multimedia performance artist Miwa Matreyek will also showcase her latest project at NCFF. Matreyek combines stunning animation with the art of movement, cleverly using a projection of her silhouette to interact with her creations. Earlier this year, Miwa premiered her new project The World Made Itself at Sundance. The fantastical kaleidoscopic experience is sophisticated yet full of childlike wonder, leading the audience through the history of the earth, from its birth to today’s complex and fast-paced world.

The thematic journey is a spectacle of surrealistic metaphor and fantasy. Matreyek also performs Myth and Infrastructure, which traverses seascapes, cityscapes and domestic spaces to conjure dreamlike scenes with nuanced layers of light and shadow. Matreyek has shown her works at venues around the world, including TEDGlobal (UK), the SF Exploratorium, Spain, Mexico, Chile and more. Matreyek performs twice Friday, September 5 at the Haven Underground.

In addition to the above mentioned special guests, NCFF will screen 70 short films, 10 feature length films, a special student works program featuring films from Sierra College students, workshops, and after parties in historic locations throughout downtown Nevada City. The first round of 2014 Official Selections have been announced and can be found at

In previous years NCFF has hosted filmmakers such as Mike Mills (The Beginners, Thumbsucker), Miranda July (The Future), Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia), James M. Johnston (Pioneer, Ain’t Them Bodies), Greg Finton (The World According to Dick Cheney), Galen Pehrson (MOCA), Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim and comedians including Nick Kroll (FX’s The League, and Comedy Central’s Nick Kroll Show), Mark Proksch (The Office), Brett Gelman (Go On), Natasha Leggero (Chelsea Lately), Eric Andre (Adult Swim), and Neil Hamburger.

What else is new at NCFF this year? So far….

Outdoor Family Film Screening of ET in Pioneer Park – Friday, August 15, 2014

Filmmaker Salons: NCFF Salons are a unique opportunity to be apart of an in-depth conversation led by filmmakers and industry professionals about major issues and ideas related to independent cinema.

Filmmaker Workshops: NCFF Workshops are an exciting opportunity for audiences to engage with Festival filmmakers and get an insider’s look at their craft and process. Classes are open to film lovers and filmmakers alike. This year’s workshops include Adventure Storytelling with GoPro and How to Create a Successful Comedy Webseries.

Director’s Spotlight – The director’s spotlight showcases the complete works of a filmmaker giving festival-goers the opportunity to see and learn the filmmaker’s growth and gain insider/industry tips and tools.

TICKETS: Tickets $7/$9 for individual screenings, $89/$99 Festival Passes. Tickets go on sale August 1 for members, August 15 for the public, online at, by phone at (530)
362-8601, and in person at Briar Patch Co-Op.

(Photos: Nevada City Film Festival)

119th Miners Picnic this weekend

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Gold glistens at 119th Miners Picnic – and everyone’s invited!

In 1895, the year of the first-ever Miners Picnic, money was raised to help gold miners’ widows and orphans. One hundred nineteen years later gold continues to play a major part in this event – only now instead of contributing, visitors can take home a bit of gold.

“One way or another,” said Miners Picnic Chairman Jack Laird, “there will be more gold prizes offered at this year’s event than ever before. For the very first-time, there’s the Grab the Gold Raffle. Winners could claim a gold nugget worth $350.00 or one of three gold dust vials worth between $50.00 and $150. Gold experts Jerry and Goldie Levitt have been extra generous in donating these valuable prizes. They have also donated gold for the Gold Panning activity – enough so that everyone who pays the $3.00 to pan walks away with more than $3.00 worth of gold.

Gold history and lively entertainment

Will the rescue team arrive in time to save the injured miners? Catch all the drama at the mine rescue reenactment at high noon.

The old Mine Yard will be buzzing with activity, including a dramatic mine-rescue reenactment at high noon. Brave miners and vintage rescue vehicles join forces to save the day.

Living History will be in full bloom at Empire Cottage, so visitors can enjoy a friendly chat with original owners, Mr. and Mrs. William Bourn, Jr., as well as visionary mine supervisor, George Starr and his wife Libby. Housekeeper Katie Moriarty will share behind-the-scenes stories about life at Empire Mine in the early 1900s. All these colorful characters will be portrayed by Empire Mine State Historic Park (EMPA) docents in authentic, turn-of-the-century costumes.

Just outside the Clubhouse, visitors can bring their blankets, chairs and lunches, and picnic near the vintage gardens – with the stately fountains in the background. Cousin Jack Pasties, served by Park volunteers, will be available for purchase. Local vendors Sweeney’s Weenies, Lazy Dog Ice Cream, Brew Bakers Coffee and Baked Goods, Old Tyme Kernel Kettle Korn, An Honest Pie, and Jamba Juice will also have tasty snacks and drinks for sale.

At 1:15, popular local band Rush Creek (with special guest appearance by “Humbug Jonny” Meredith) will perform on the stage near the Clubhouse – the perfect place to picnic. Many of the lively, old-time tunes they’ll play date back to our gold-mine heydays. Roving minstrels, magician Peter Franchino and other surprises will add to the fun, including a visit by mountain man George Steger, Ray Ray the Clown, and some very wild women and their adorable donkeys. At 2:00, organic farmer Amigo Bob Cantisano will lead a tour of Empire’s heritage trees.

To add to the upbeat, community feel, Robert Russell, Grass Valley’s official town crier for the last 10 years, will be on hand to remind folks to purchase their Grab the Gold raffle tickets – and to announce the winners at the Gold Panning area at 3:15 p.m.

“Miners Picnic is the day we celebrate our action-packed history,” Laird added. It’s a day with built-in appeal for all ages. Traditionally, we attract visitors from all over California and some from all over the world. Whether visitors leave with gold prizes or just golden memories, the 119th Miners Picnic is rich in gold, grit and glory!”

The picnic is hosted by EMPA and Park volunteers – and everyone’s invited!

(Photo: Dreamspinner Productions)

KVMR Celtic Festival announces performers

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The 18th annual KVMR Celtic Festival and Marketplace mixes Celtic music and magic with world-class musicians, dance, pageantry, living history, falconry, athletics, storytelling, jam sessions and shopping. The outdoor event takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 26, 27 & 28 in Grass Valley, California at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, a bucolic setting on 100 acres among giant ponderosa pines. There are eight stages and performance areas. Our main stage hosts many of the best Celtic musicians on the world stage.

Our 2014 main-stage headliners include, from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – Mary Jane Lamond & Wendy MacIsaac, Irish flutist Nuala Kennedy and her band, the international quintet – Runa, four sisters from Ireland’s County Bundoran – The Screaming Orphans, a return appearance of the Hanz Araki Band featuring Colleen Raney, Celtic rockers the Mclean Avenue Band, 1916, Tempest and home town favorites A Thousand Years at Sea.

As late summer begins to cool, the Nevada County Fairgrounds will be transformed into a Celtic village where world-famous Celtic musicians perform, shopping and dining opportunities abound and O’Dea’s Irish Pub celebrates the change of season. Hundreds of regional performers, singers, bagpipers, actors, jugglers and storytellers roam the fairgrounds.

Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments and join in with jam sessions and workshops scheduled throughout the weekend. Revelers make music into the night in the available campgrounds and RV hook-ups complete with tall trees and a lake.

History buffs explore encampments of “Guilds” who re-create points and places in time. Royalty and their subjects demonstrate how peasants and gentry lived in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Exciting and educational, the Celtic Animals exhibit houses falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, sheep and ponies.

Amateur and professional athletes test their strength and skill in Scottish Games. Children are kept engaged with arts and crafts, story telling, and romping in a straw bale castle. Seniors are admitted an hour before the event opens on Sunday and treated to scones and tea. The festival is disabled accessible.

For tickets and to read more about the KVMR Celtic Festival’s performances and events click here or visit their website.

(Photo: Riley Smith, McLean Avenue Band)

Sierra Brewfest: An epic afternoon of sun, suds and fun (video)

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The Sierra BrewFest will celebrate its 25th Anniversary on August 23, 2014 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. As one of the oldest, continuously running brewfests in California, the Sierra BrewFest is known for showcasing small microbreweries in Northern California such as ol’Republic Brewery, Auburn Ale House, Hoppy Brewing Company, Tahoe Mountain Brewery, Loomis Basin Brewery and Out of Bounds Brewing Company just to name a few. This year’s roster will feature over 100 hand-crafted beers from some of the best microbreweries on the planet.

Enjoy yourself at the most beautiful fairgrounds in California in the Sierra Foothills surrounded by the tall pines. This unique microbrew tasting experience includes unlimited beer tastings, Bag-O games, and delicious food from some of the best food trucks and local restaurants. Where else can you taste delicious beer while enjoying barbequed oysters or fresh sushi?!

This year marks the second Bag-O games tournament, also known as corn hole or bean bag toss. Gather a team of friends to compete in the friendly tournament where you can win tickets to the 2015 Sierra BrewFest. Start practicing and get ready to sign up at the event.

And there’s more than just suds and fun on tap. This year’s entertainment will feature blues, soul, and rock-n-roll from the wildly popular Jamal Walker Band (see video below). Soak up the sun, fill up on the suds, eat some grub, and shake your groove thang!

Proceeds from the BrewFest benefit Music in the Mountains, and help them bring great music to the community and the schools. Tickets for unlimited tastings are available in advance for $30 and at the gate for $35. Tickets for non-tasters are $10, and youth under 18 are free. Buy tickets and get more information at or call the MIM box office at (530) 265-6124.

(Photo: Kris Wakefield)

119th Miners Picnic at Empire Mine August 23

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The 119th Miners Picnic at the Empire Mine is Saturday, August 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; plenty of activities and history galore for everyone. You can read more about the Empire Mine State Historic Park here. Click below to watch a short video about this year’s Miners Picnic:

(Photo: Empire Mine State Historic Park, video: NCTV)

North Star House master plan for restoration in the works

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By Joe Heckel, President, North Star Historic Conservancy

In 2003, a building sat vacant. It was in poor condition and deteriorating to the point of collapse. Rain poured into the building from a failing roof and through open windows. The interior had been vandalized, with all fixtures stripped and graffiti covered the walls.

Piles of garbage and debris littered the floors. There was no heat, water or sewer. What occurred next to this building and the surrounding property is one of the more remarkable stories of perseverance and dedication for our County.

This building and its surrounding grounds contain a unique legacy. It was once a beautiful iconic landmark, serving as the main building for the second largest gold producer in California history; the home of one most significant and interesting families in the American West and the first major work of a premier female architect.

The building, of course, is The North Star House at 12075 Auburn Road, south of Grass Valley. Through the efforts and vision of countless volunteers and leaders of our community, this 10,000 square foot building stands today, very much intact. The grounds have been cleaned of debris, abandoned cars, excessive vegetation and the historic gardens are being restored.

The North Star House is now managed and operated by the North Star Historic Conservancy (NSHC), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.

The North Star House was designed by famed architect Julia Morgan and built in 1905 for the owners of the North Star Mine. The North Star House served as the social headquarters of the North Star Mine and was where the public and investors were invited to meet and greet. This special example of California Craftsman-style architecture was recently placed on the National and the California State Historic Buildings Registers.

It served as the home to mine superintendent Arthur DeWindt Foote, his wife, Mary Halleck Foote and their children. Arthur, known as A.D., was an engineering genius who pioneered the use of the Pelton wheel and designed the Tyler-Foote Road. He was also an amateur botanist who shared his work with such notable horticulturists as Luther Burbank and Felix Gillette.

Mary was as remarkable as A.D., as she was an accomplished artist who illustrated the works of many prominent authors of the period, including Bret Harte and Nathaniel Hawthorne. She was a regular correspondent to periodicals such as Harper’s Weekly, where she shared her perspective of a Victorian woman in the Gold Country.

The House and surrounding historic grounds was seen as a historically important site that a few thoughtful citizens recognized as worthy of preservation and restoration.

In 2004, the owner and prospective developer of the 762 acre North Star property donated the House and 14 acres to the Nevada County Land Trust, today the Bear Yuba Land Trust.

In 2006, the NSHC was created to restore and manage the North Star House and the historic grounds. After years of volunteer labor and an infusion of donated funds and materials, the House and grounds have been significantly improved and made more accessible to the public.

Now fast forward onto 2014 and what is happening for the property and The North Star House. The NSHC has prepared a Master Plan for the 14 acres which not only seeks to restore and rehabilitate The North Star House and grounds, but allows it to be opened to the public in a phased approach. Our goal is to continue to restore the North Star House and open it as a cultural event center.

The North Star House will be a wide range of social, cultural and educational opportunities including exhibits, meetings, classes, performances and gatherings of all types. Funds obtained from these activities will be invested into restoration efforts.

Our application (here) to approve our Master Plan will be presented before the Planning Commission on August 14.

Also, the NSHC is hosting its first-ever fundraiser on Saturday, August 16. This is a benefit concert to help with our renovation projects and to further our Master Plan for the property.

Come enjoy the sounds of Lorraine Gervais and her Love Bombs on the front lawn on a summer night. Information about our August 16 event can be found on our website at

The North Star House can become a cultural event center for Nevada County. Please help us make the North Star shine once again with your generous support.

To see more photos of the historic North Star House, click here.

(Photos: North Star House and

Sneak peek of the soon to open Donner Memorial Visitor Center

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Celebrate the pioneer heritage while touring the new Donner Memorial Visitor Center this Saturday before the interpretive exhibits arrive.

This fundraising event to support the visitor center will be held Saturday, August 16 at 6 p.m. Enjoy a facility tour and exhibit previews, chuck wagon dinner, spiritual dedication by members of the Washoe Tribe, live music by Richard Blair, “Get in the Pioneer Spirit” costume contest, and square dancing. Tickets are $45 and may be purchased online at

Destruction Derby tonight at the Nevada County Fair

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It’s back – the Destruction Derby at the Nevada County Fair! The popular Derby, held on Sunday of the Nevada County Fair, will be locally produced by five of Nevada County’s Rotary Clubs – The Rotary Club of Nevada City, Rotary Club of Nevada County South, 49er Breakfast Rotary of Nevada City, Penn Valley Rotary, and Rotary Club of Grass Valley.

This year’s Destruction Derby is sure to be a crowd favorite! Watch as drivers put their cars to the ultimate test and crash, smash, and ram other vehicles while trying to keep their own vehicle running! That’s demolition at its best.

“The Nevada County Fairgrounds is extremely pleased that the Rotarians, who are leaders in our community, are taking on the production of the Destruction Derby at the Fair,” said Sandy Woods, CEO of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. “This event will be a truly locally produced event, and we are excited to be able to offer this entertainment to our community.”

The Destruction Derby is held on Sunday, August 10, at 7 pm at the Nevada County Fair. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under. For tickets to Rotary’s Destruction Derby or any of the arena events, visit

(Photo: Nevada County Fair)

Don’t miss the last day of the 2014 Nevada County Fair

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Today’s the last day of the 2014 Nevada County Fair! Lots of rides, exhibits, fun and food for everyone.

Watch a cool video of the fair below:

(Photo & video: Nevada County Fair)