Oakhurst to celebrate Yosemite's 150th anniversary

mvoorhis@sierrastar.comJune 24, 2014 

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, the Oakhurst Community Park will host dignitaries President Abraham Lincoln (Gary Talley) and conservationist John Muir (Frank Helling ) at the Yosemite Festival this Saturday.

On June 30, 1864, amid the Civil War, Lincoln signed this act, which marked the first California state park, to protect Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. Because of this, Yosemite and surrounding communities are celebrating throughout 2014.

The Yosemite Festival, held from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., June 28, is supported by the Yosemite Sierra Visitor's Bureau and Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, and will feature a variety of entertainment, arts and crafts, historical presentations and exhibits.

Yosemite Valley Center Stage, sponsored by Sierra Tel, will feature educational and entertainment throughout the day, including presentations by John Muir and Abraham Lincoln, Sierra Chamber singers, Native American dancers, and a mini-melodrama performed by the the Golden Chain Theatre.

At the Half Dome Arts Pavilion, a 20 x 20-foot tent will be set up, surrounded by smaller booths reserved by artists, galleries and art organizations. The main tent will feature an exhibit of works inspired by Yosemite and the Sierra, presented by Sierra Art Trails, Madera County Arts Council, and Yosemite Western Artists.

The Yosemite Falls History Center will take attendees back in time 700,000 years with the Fossil Discovery Center's exhibit featuring bones from Colombian Mammoth, Saber-Tooth Cat, Short-faced Bear and more. There will be a vintage clothing exhibit, and demonstrations or exhibits from the National Park Service, Sierra Mono Museum (basket-weaving), Cal Fire, and Yosemite Pack Station. Tony Krizan, local author and hiker will introduce hiking along Yosemite's forgotten trails. The Yosemite Conservancy will show the Ken Burns documentary "Yosemite: A Gathering of Spirit" which will be for sale with the accompanying Dayton Duncan book, and other 150th anniversary memorabilia.

El Capitan Adventure Land will celebrate the wildlife and nature of Yosemite, and will offer pony rides and a petting zoo for the children, the Chaffee Zoo Mobile, Smokey Bear, Mountain Bear Fan Club Teddy bear activities, face painting, Yosemite National Park's Junior Ranger program, storytelling, and coloring books. Boy Scout Troop #341 will sell homemade goods and talk about gold-panning.

At the Mariposa Grove Food & Beverage Garden, the Oakhurst Sierra Rotary and Sunrise Rotary will serve barbecued burgers, hot dogs, tri-tip and chicken sandwiches. Assorted beverages, including South Gate Brewing Company's 1864 Ale, will also be available. Desserts will be provided by the Oakhurst Soroptimist Club, Italian Shaved Ice and Kettle Corn.

Along the Merced River Vendor Trail, attendees can shop for tasty treats, homemade jewelry, and art. Randy Salisbury's Abraham Lincoln-Yosemite Sesquicentennial drawing will adorn t-shirts and other souvenirs. The drawing, which took four months to complete, was composed in Photoshop, using a composite of three photographs: Lincoln, Yosemite Valley and a few close-up pine trees.

"We are honored to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant," Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park superintendent said. "This is a historic day for Yosemite National Park, the National Park Service and the world. We are pleased that we can celebrate the national park idea with communities like Oakhurst that play such a vital role in the Yosemite region. We thank you for your tremendous support in all of the anniversary activities."

In 1890, the surrounding Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees was designated Yosemite National Park, and in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the park, spending time with Muir.

Admission is $1 and the first 500 people will receive a commemorative button.

Details: (559) 683-4636, yosemitefestival.com

YNP festivities Monday June 30

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, signed June 30, 1864, activities are planned by Yosemite National Park on Monday, June 30.

Groundbreaking ceremony: 10 a.m. — A golden sledge hammer groundbreaking ceremony will take place to kick-off the Mariposa Grove Restoration Project. The lieutenant governor Gavin Newson, Congressmen Jim Costa and Tom McClintock, and other national and local officials will attend.

Park Heritage Program: 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. — This event will take place in front of the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center and will include a deed presentation for land being donated by the Pacific Land Trust. It will culminate in the public education and booth program, and offers the general public an opportunity to honor the anniversary with park leadership and to learn about park significance.

Golden Chain mini-melodrama to commemorate signing of Yosemite Grant Act

The Golden Chain Theatre will present a special performance of "Bonnie Belle's Best Bloomers," written by the late Daniel A Ross, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864. The showing will be held 7 p.m., June 30, at the theatre.

This traditional melodrama, set in the local area, centers around Dora Belle's (Carol Kovach) efforts to find her late husband's secret gold mine in time to avoid foreclosure by the unscrupulous Vicious McSknay (Erik Hurtado). She asks a friend, Doug Moore (Roy Allison), to help find the map as his reputation for losing things makes him experienced in finding things.

Stump Woodrow (Roland Ott), his rather dense sidekick, is also a victim of the villain's swindling ways, and manages to complicate everyone's efforts to find the map. Meanwhile, the hero, Al Wahnee (Joel Bradshaw), a traveling soap salesman, attracts the attention of Bonnie Belle (Meagan Montalto), and also ends up saving the day. With trips in and around Yosemite, Doug searches for the map in every area community, and eventually sheds the vital clue to the map, winning widow Belle's hand.

The program will feature the Grub Gulch dancers, the Grub Gulch Grannies, and Georgie Dayton singing patriotic songs. Lincoln will make a guest appearance during the evening.

Details: tickets $10 each, (559) 683-7112 or goldenchaintheatre.org.

Festival Schedule

10 a.m. — Abraham Lincoln "A Lasting Peace" Choral Concert by the Sierra Chamber Singers & Friends.

11 a.m. — Yosemite Conservancy Storytelling, Yosemite's Songster read by Jeannie Tasker.

11:30 a.m. — Yosemite Pack Station's Dennis Dozier will speak on packing in Yosemite.

Noon — Yosemite Festival Parade led by Yosemite's Mounted Patrol followed by the Mariposa Wagon Train carrying special guests Abraham Lincoln, John Muir, Ranger Scott Gediman, and Smokey Bear. Lincoln will lead the flag salute and the guests will talk about their part in the Yosemite Grant Act of 1864.

1 p.m. — Chainsaw carving demonstration by Brian Allen.

1:30 — Rangers from the National Park Service speak on Junior Ranger program.

2 p.m. — Rich Price, The Singing Sierran performs songs from his CD "The Spirit of Yosemite."

2:30 p.m. — Coarsegold Community Dancers.

3 p.m. — Smokey Bear coloring contest and Yosemite essay contest winners announced.

4 p.m. — John Muir will talk about his part in preserving Yosemite.

4:30 p.m. — Golden Chain Theatre mini melodrama "Bonnie Bell's Best Bloomers" and the Grub Gulch Dancers.

5 - 7 p.m. — Musical entertainment.

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