Hurray for Heritage Days

Hundreds of Mountain Area residents, and a few out-of-state visitors, lined High School Road and Crane Valley Road (426) Sept. 19, for the Heritage Days Parade, complete with siren-blaring fire engines, Smokey Bear, floats, Yosemite Mounted Rangers, Coarsegold Rodeo Royalty, the Yosemite and Minarets High School marching bands, vintage cars, Mountain Mafia race cars, and the Sheriff’s Department off-road motorcycle unit.

The parade was the highlight of the 19th Annual Heritage Days, an event held to benefit the Sierra Historic Sites Association, and Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park on School Road. This year’s theme was “Mountain Memories.”

Children screamed with delight as many of the parade entries, including Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, driving his 1930 four-door Chevy sedan, threw candy to the children who lined the 1.5-mile parade route.

The Freeman and Kuykendall families, 17 in all, from Chehalis, Wash., and Jervais, Ore. respectfully, were in the area for a couple days while visiting Yosemite, and decided to take in the parade.

Elaine Kuykendall (mother of eight) said her family and her sister Amy’s (mother of five) family, had a great time at the parade.

“We love the small town atmosphere, and this was a great small town parade,” Kuykendall said.

Parade Coordinator Sandy Brinley said this year’s parade had more creative entries than ever, and everyone enjoyed the Mountain Mafia race cars, and the Caring Veterans of America’s ‘tank car,’ with members of Caring Veterans handing out small American flags to children.

Top parade awards went to Caring Veterans of America (Best of Show), Yosemite High School (marching band), Yosemite National Park Mounted Rangers (equestrian), Yosemite High School football (non-commercial float), and Reimers Candies (commercial float).

During the parade, some community members, including Bill Atwood, were thrown into the Fresno Flats Jail, making a donation to SHSA to bail-out.

Following the parade, many people visited the Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park to visit vendor booths, and enjoy a variety of activities and demonstrations including gold panning, blacksmithing, quilt making, pine needle basket weaving, old time printing, and broom making.

Docent-led tours took people back in time as they pointed out the historical significance of the Laramore-Lyman House, the Taylor Log Cabin, the Cunningham School, and the Nathan Sweet Memorial Museum.

During the day, those visiting Fresno Flats were treated to the sounds of Country Legends, and classic rock by Rock Therapy. A large crowd attended the Rotary barbecued pork ribs and salmon community dinner, enjoying The Wild Horses, a country-western band.

Colette Goga, president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association board of directors, served as coordinator of Heritage Days celebration with the help of more than 15 volunteers.

“Our board of directors put on a great event, kicked-off by the fantastic music of the Bryan Vickers Band on Friday night,” Goga said. “Fresno Flats was rocking, with dancing, vendors, and plenty of food. We had a sold out pancake breakfast Saturday morning, a wonderful parade, and a delicious dinner. Much fun was had by all who attended. Get ready for next year - we are already planning a bigger and better celebration for the 20th Heritage Days.”

Heritage Days benefits the Sierra Historic Sites Association and the upkeep of Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park, which captures the flavor of life in the 19th century when settlers came to this area to build their lives, raise families, and make their livings as farmers, miners, loggers, and merchants.

Long-time Mountain Area residents Ken and Barbara Kirby, and Al and Helen Merkle served as Grand Marshals for this year’s celebration.

This year’s Heritage Days theme was “Mountain Memories.”

Support needed

Fresno Flats was built around two restored and furnished homes, dating back to the 1870s. These homes were saved from demolition, relocated to the historical park, and restored by SHSA volunteers. Other restored buildings include two one-room schools and two 19th century jails.

Fresno Flats village and grounds are open dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. Museum and guided tours are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

With no county or state funds, SHSA has maintained Fresno Flats since 1975 with community donations and volunteer labor.

With several of the buildings in need of major repairs, SHSA is looking for sponsors to “adopt” them. Annual memberships are also available: $25 for individuals, $35 for families, $50 for businesses, $500 for life memberships, $100 (minimum) for patron memberships, and $1,000 for sustaining membership. Because SHSA is a non-profit, educational association, membership dues and other donations are tax deductible.

Details: (559) 683-6570, fresnoflatsmuseumorg.