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Virtual Events are the Order of the Day

As with so many other events this year, Coloma Gold Rush Live became a casualty of the pandemic. The annual four day event, which features a gold rush style tent town with over 100 volunteer inhabitants, was called in August amidst concerns for the saftey of the volunteers, staff and visitors.

But, that did not mean that park staff and volunteers could not present a modified, if smaller scale, virtual version of the event. On Thursday and Friday, October 8 and 9, the park presented 8 Facebook Live segments, specifically aimed at our fourth grade friends who were not able to experience gold rush history at the park. Facebook Live allows viewers to interact with the event by asking questions in real time through the comments section of Facebook.

The park kicked off the event on Thursday with James Marshall himself (aka Ed Allen) telling the story of the gold discovery in front of Sutter’s Mill. That day students also learned about Dutch oven cooking from Mrs. Davis (aka Judy Bryant), ropemaking from Granny Carol (Timmerman), and spinning from Susan Felton. Each segment was about 20 minutes long with lots of particpation and great questions from viewers.

Friday found staff back at it with an interesting visit to the camp of the mountain men (Robert Woodgate, Robert Schoff and Randy McCrum) followed by a visit to Mrs. Talbot’s (aka Eileen Hook) mercantile, a long tom demonstration with Timothy and Clyde (Mike Judd and Aaron Navarro), and a visit to the river mining camp of the Trans California Mining Company (Chuck Graf, Jen Roger and Nelson Snook).

The virutal event was well attended with several classes attending each 20 minute segment. It also provided an opportunity for our volunteers to get out and do what they love doing and get at least a small taste of Gold Rush Live. You can view the videos from Gold Rush Live and other videos from the park ONLINE. Be sure to subscribe to the channel to enjoy future virtual events!

Hopes were high that the park might be able to hold a scaled down and modified version of Christmas in Coloma. Although we were able to bring volunteers and staff together to decorate the town for Christmas, staff felt it was not prudent to host a holiday event. Once again the staff relied on social media to present virtual holiday house tours and a special Facebook Live visit with Santa (aka Mike Judd).

As we move into the new year, staff is hopeful that the park will be able to present live events in 2021. In the meantime, we will continue to stay connected with visitors and schoolchildren virtually through social media and our new PORTS program.


Marshall gold Discovery SHP Interpreter 1 Holly Thane interviews Santa (Mike Judd) during a Facebook Live event at the park.

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