Pioneer days remembered

editor@sierrastar.comSeptember 17, 2013 

Oakhurst's pioneer days will be remembered this weekend during the 17th Annual Mountain Heritage Days, highlighted by a parade and community dinner.

This year's theme is "Yosemite Grant — 150th Anniversary."

The two-day event, sponsored by the Sierra Historic Sites Association, benefits the upkeep of Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park and the preservation efforts of the Fresno Flats Historical Research Center & Library.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. Friday at Fresno Flats, School Road (427) at Indian Springs Road.

A silent auction will be located in the Cunningham Schoolhouse featuring a large variety of items donated by area businesses and individuals. The auction closes at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Sandwiches and drinks will be available in the park, followed by a 5:30 p.m. ice cream social and mini-melodrama presented by the Golden Chain Theatre.

"This year's Mountain Heritage Days are the kick-off of the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant in 2014," said Dwayne Turpin, SHSA president. "All next year, our activities at Fresno Flats will celebrate the Yosemite Grant."

The Yosemite Grant was signed by President Lincoln in 1864, while the Civil War was raging. It set aside Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove for "public use, resort and recreation."

Parade 10 a.m. Saturday

The Heritage Days Parade, with bands, floats, Yosemite National Park horseback rangers, dance groups and antique cars, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The parade route has been slightly changed from previous years. This year, the parade travels from Yosemite High School on School Road (427) and then west on Crane Valley Road (426), but ends at Sierra Way (Oakhurst Physical Therapy), rather than continuing to Golden Oak Loop (Grant Mercantile).

Spectators are encouraged to arrive on School Road well before 10 a.m., at which time the road will be closed. Judging will take place at the announcers stand in front of Fresno Flats. A second announcers stand will be on the corner of School Road and Crane Valley Road. Parade announcers are Bill Atwood and Nadine Vishel.

Parade entries include the Yosemite and Minarets high school bands, Yosemite High Cadet Corps, Golden Chain Theatre Can Can dancers, Smokey Bear, the Coarsegold Rodeo Queen's Court, Road Rattlers and Mountain Area Corvette car clubs, and many clubs and organizations including the Mountain Bear Club, Soroptimist, S.P.C.A., Lions, Boys & Girls Club of Oakhurst, Oakhurst Boy Scout Troop 341, Oakhurst Cub Scout Pack 341, Girls Scout Troop 2641, and the Triple E Equestrian Group.

Grand Marshals of the Heritage Days are Matt Sconce and Keith Walker.

Also appearing in the parade will be the five-member Dazzling Diamonds baton team from The Dance Studio of Fresno. The team, coached by former senior women's world baton champion Yolanda Stone, and Mark Nash, eight time men's world baton champion, recently won two team awards at the US Twirling Nationals/Festival of The Future Championships in Daytona Beach, Fl.

Sandy Brinley, parade chairperson, said Mountain Area children will love the parade and many of the entries will be throwing out candy to the youngsters along the parade route.

At the end of the parade all children who participate in the parade will receive popcorn and lemonade from Fresno Flats volunteers.

Parade awards will be presented at Fresno Flats at 2 p.m.

Fresno flats activities

Immediately following the parade, the public is invited to see pioneer demonstrations including gold panning, blacksmithing, quilt making, basket weaving, loom weaving, and tatting.

Members of the Central Sierra Woodcarvers Society will demonstrate carving and wood turning techniques, and will provide hands-on woodworking activities for children.

Between noon and 2 p.m., costumed docents will welcome visitors for informative tours of Laramore-Lyman House, Taylor Log House, historic printing exhibit, 1914 Dupzyk Barn, Nelder Grove Sawmill model, 1890 Raymond Jail, and the Cedarbrook Cabin.

Cost of the tours will be $5 for adults, $3 for seniors over 60. There will be no charge for children 12 and under when accompanied by a parent.

Food booths will include hamburgers and hot dogs by the Oakhurst Kiwanis Club, and a cake walk will be held every half hour from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Wine and cheese

Community members will gather in the Beulah Mills Garden at the Laramore-Lyman House 4 - 5:30 p.m. Saturday for a wine and cheese reception. Music will be provided by Mountain Area singer/songwriter Jean Butterfield, who will also perform during the community dinner following the reception.

Community salmon and rib barbecue dinner

The community dinner, prepared by the Sierra Sunrise and Sierra noon Rotary Clubs, will be served at 5:30 p.m. Saturday featuring salmon or barbecued pork ribs.

The dinner will include rice pilaf, rolls, cole slaw and dessert provided by the Soroptimist International Club of the Sierras.

Cost of the dinner is $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12.

Dinner tickets are available at Fresno Flats, Dorsey's Hallmark in the Old Mill Shopping Center, adjacent to Vons, and Oakhurst Feed & Supply, 40119 Enterprise Drive.

Fresno Flats historical research library

The personal stories of the people who settled in the foothills and mountains of Central California may be found among the records preserved in the Fresno Flats Historical Research Library, located across the street from the village.

With adequate archival space and work areas for researchers, the center is a depository for a wide collection of journals, early-day photographs, old maps, oral history recordings and books relating to the history of the region.

Among the material available are many old Madera County court documents, area mining claim records, early Sierra National Forest papers, a complete and indexed file of the Sierra Star newspaper, nearly 200 recorded interviews with members of pioneer families, and a collection of the Harry Pidgeon early-day lumbering photos.

Sierra Historic Sites Association Historian Roger Mitchel is custodian of the collection, and opens the library on Thursdays for researchers from throughout California. Roger and his wife Loris are this year's SHSA Volunteers of the Year.

Major fundraiser

The Heritage Days celebration is the largest fundraiser of the year for the upkeep and maintenance of Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park which recaptures the 19th Century life-style of Eastern Madera County.

With no county or state funds or grants, SHSA has maintained Fresno Flats since its inception in 1975 with community donations and volunteer labor. Several of the buildings at the village are in need of major repairs, and SHSA is currently looking for sponsors to 'adopt' them.

Memberships and volunteers sought

One of the goals of SHSA is to keep the Sweet Museum open daily and have docents available to give guided tours of the historic buildings at Fresno Flats.

"Many more volunteer docents and tour guides are needed to make that goal a reality," Turpin said. "New members and anyone interested in history are always welcome."

Details: Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park, corner of School Road (427) and Indian Springs Road (418), (559) 683-6570, Nancy Bednar, docent coordinator, (559) 683-6570, e-mail,

Friday, Sept. 20

Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park:

5 p.m. - Sandwich, chips and soda - $5

5 p.m. - Silent Auction opens for bids

5-6:30 p.m. - Vendors, crafts

5:30-6:30 p.m. - Ice Cream Social

6:30-7:30 p.m. - Mini-melodrama. Mountain Bells introduction

Saturday, Sept. 21

10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Vendors, crafts and pioneer demonstrations including gold panning, blacksmithing, printing press, tatting, wood carving, loom weaving, and basket making

10-11 a.m. - Heritage Days Parade - School Road (427) and Crane Valley Road (426)

11 a.m. - Silent auction open for bids

11 a.m.-2 p.m. - Food booths

11 a.m.-4 p.m. - Fresno Flats gift shop opens

Noon- 2 p.m. - Historic buildings open for guided docent tours

Noon-3 p.m. - Children's art activities

12:30-2 p.m. - Cake walk each half hour

2 p.m. - Parade awards ceremony

2:30 p.m. - Animal rescue wild bird demonstration

4 - 5:30 p.m. - Wine and cheese reception in Laramore-Lyman House garden

4 p.m. - Silent auction closes

4-5:30 p.m. - Wine & Cheese Reception

5:30 p.m. - Salmon or pork ribs barbecue dinner and music by Jean Butterfield

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