Free things to do in the Gold Country during World Gold Panning Championships and Gold Week Sept. 11-18, 2016
August 28, 2016
Posted by: El Dorado County Visitors Authority
The Gold Rush is returning to where it began next month. The World Gold Panning Championships, which were last held in the U.S. in 1998, are a rare opportunity to experience international competition, Gold Rush history, mine tours, live music, and plenty more unique events that you don’t see every day. Whether you come for the day, or the whole week, it’s a celebration you don’t want to miss.
Even better, much of it is free – so much so that we’ve compiled a list of 49 free things to do during Gold Week. Read on for inspiration!
- Check out the “Visions of the Gold Rush” Invitational Art Show at the Divide Gallery in Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- Visit the Veerkamp Collection of Antique Tractors – docents lead tours sharing the history behind the magnificent machines, including the very first Caterpillar tractor ever made! It’s No. 0000, verified by Caterpillar itself as being the first one built, in original-as-found condition. For more information about seeing the Veerkamp Collection call (530) 626-0825. Sept 13 – 15.
- Got lederhosen and nowhere to go? Head to Placerville Oktoberfest on Main Street where you’ll find German music (complete with Chicken Dances!), wiener dog races, games for all ages, Bavarian dance demos, a scarecrow contest (new this year) and German beer and cuisine. Sept. 17, 3-8 pm.
- Feeling a little bit country? Head to the 2nd Annual Cameron Park Countryfest, which includes a BBQ competition, music, and more. Sept. 10, Christa McAuliffe Park.
- Go Stargazing – See the universe through two 14 inch telescopes at the Community Observatory. Sept. 10, 17-18, 7:30-9:30 pm, Placerville.
- Explore the UCCE Master Gardeners of El Dorado County Placerville Sherwood Demonstration Garden, which includes 16 individual themed gardens that feature plants well adapted to our Mediterranean climate. Trained docents will be on hand during these special evening hours. Placerville, Sept. 10, 5:30pm-7:30 pm.
- Love quilts? The Patchwork Sierra Quilt Show is at the Fausel House Gallery on 722 Pacific Street Sept. 10 – 19.
- Browse the crafts fair at Georgetown Park, where you can see fabulous and tasteful arts and crafts, and see the work of our locals (and maybe an alpaca or two!). Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- 26th Annual Show N’ Shine and Fly-In: Expected this year are nearly 250 cars and 40 airplanes including vintage war birds on display. Attendees will be treated to a fly-over by Chuck Wahl of Vultures Row and his pilot friends. Cameron Park Airpark, Sept. 17 10 am–3 pm.
- Coloma Gold Rush LIVE! Step back in time to the years 1848 – 1849 and experience what life was like in Coloma, where the California Gold Rush began. Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Sept. 15-18, 10 am–4 pm.
- As the sun goes down, Placerville’s Main Street comes alive at the Hangtown Street Stomp. Think classic rock and country tunes, piping hot miners stew courtesy of the Old Town Grill and Placerville Hardware, and much more. Sept. 13 7:30-10 pm, Main Street, Placerville
- Georgetown’s historical stamp mill, at the corner near Georgetown Park, will be providing an exciting display as you view the rock crushing machinery. Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- Kodak Moments with Historical Figures: Living Legends of the Gold Rush era, such as Wyatt Earp, Belle Starr, James B. Hume, and Alan Pinkerton will be available around the Forni Building for photos with guests. Check front gates for special legends appearing like John Studebaker, Lily Langtrey, Lotta Crabtree and the Buffalo Soldiers. Sept. 14-18, El Dorado County (EDC) Fairgrounds.
- Old West Shootout & Skit – You never know who’s going to be in town and causing trouble. Our Georgetown Divide Regulators and Hangtown Marshals work daily to keep law and order and peace in PlacerTown, but where there’s gold to be had, there’s trouble that follows! Sept. 14 – 17, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Explore two historical inns located one block apart! The Georgetown Hotel and the American River Inn are locales where you can stay in the same place where Gold Rush characters bedded down. Sept. 10-11, Georgetown.
- Kick off the 2016 World Gold Panning Championships and El Dorado Gold Week with the Parade of Nations opening ceremonies that will take place on Main Street at the Bell Tower in Placerville. Sept. 13, 6 pm.
- Wander the Georgetown Nature Area to find a magical setting of acres of forest, open areas, paths, a real mine, and an amphitheater where you are free to explore and create your own magic. Nature Area, Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- Whether you’re an oenophile or simply curious about how it feels to crush grapes with your feet, the Grape Stomp Competition is a rare opportunity to see old-school wine making techniques in action. Sept. 14, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Taste a bit of life in the El Dorado Gold Rush era at the El Dorado Gold Rush Museum, with gold rush era exhibits, docent tours, mining research, local history publications and more! Sept. 14-18, 10 am – 6 pm, Placerville.
- Take a self-guided tour of Placerville’s historic main street – pick up a map at the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce. 542 Main Street Placerville.
- Enjoy Native American dancing and flute by Marion Cole at the Georgetown Nature Area. Nature Area, Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- John M. Studebaker Wheelbarrow Races – A local favorite during the fair, Competitors carrying a bag of “ore” in the wheelbarrow muscle their way through a treacherous Gold Rush field of obstacles and challenges including a waist-deep water crossing at Grizzly Water Hole. Sept. 18, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Visit some of the 50 farms and ranches of Apple Hill, where you’ll find lots of free activities for kids, including nature trails and photo cutouts.
- Visit the Sarpika Gypsy Encampment to meet the Gypsies of 1850; see them dancing on the Wells Fargo Stage (times posted) and have your palm read or fortune told as in Gold Rush times. Sept. 14 – 17, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Fun Gold Panning Events, Pixies and Children’s categories, 18, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – Fern – This lively lady plays steel guitar and sings western songs the way they were in the GOLDen Days. Joining her are musical friends on harmonica and wash-board, George Sangster and Marlene. Sept. 15, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – Gold Rush Kids Ukes, Sept. 18, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – Native Flute, Sept. 18, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Okei San – Japanese Dance, Sept. 18, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Listen to Cliff Habig, Chuck Carroll, and Michael Smith as they tell poems and stories of the past. Nature Area, Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- Snake Oil Show – A cure for all! Come one come all! A historic snake oil show as was popular in the days of the Gold Rush era. Sept. 14 – 17, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Local historians Larry Anderson, Guy Nixon and Ken Deibert will tell you what life was once like during the Gold Rush. Have a question about the past? They may have an answer. Nature Area, Georgetown, Sept. 10-11.
- Take a hike along the American River – at Cronin Ranch all trails lead to the river – close to where that first gold nugget was discovered.
- Music – 120 West, Sept. 14, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – Alan Candee Portraying OLD PUT, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – Down Home Country Friends, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Gold Rush & Mining History Research Days are a great opportunity to learn about the details of mining in El Dorado County. Sept. 15-18 The Museum at EDC Fairgrounds.
- World Gold Panning Competition – 600 Competitors from 20 different countries vying for a gold medal. Sept. 14 – 18, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – Gold Rush Chorus, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Music – The Fabulous Liars, Sept. 14, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Square Dancing, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Go treasuring hunting! Stroll Placerville’s Historic Main Street and explore the antique shops.
- Music – Bisson Blue Grass Band, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Explore all the historical museums and locations in Gold Country with the Historical Museum Alliance.
- Music – Cheryl Kent and the Hickory Wind Band.
- Mineral & Gem Exhibits (free entry)
- Music – Bob Raleigh – Reminiscent of Frank Sinatra, easy listening, jazz, swing, vocal jazz. Sept. 16, EDC Fairgrounds.
- Taste the place! El Dorado County is home to 4 world-class olive oil companies. Winterhill Farms,321 Main Street Placerville; Windmill Creek Olive Oil, 8148 Mt Aukum Rd, Mt Aukum, Mad Dog Mesa Olive Oil, tasting by appointment only; and Collina di Mela, 1925 Carson Road, Placerville.
- World Gold Panning Championship Awards and Closing Ceremony with Fireworks, Sept. 18, EDC Fairground.