Long-time Mountain Area residents Ken and Barbara Kirby, and Al and Helen Merkle have been named Grand Marshall’s for the 19th Annual Mountain Heritage Days to be held Friday, and Saturday, Sept. 18 and 19.
This year’s Heritage Days and Heritage Days Parade theme is “Mountain Memories.”
Mountain Heritage Days was established to celebrate the rich history of the Mountain Area, and this year’s event will provide the community with a free country western concert, a community barbecue, children’s activities, a bake sale, and silent auction while showcasing turn-of-the-century life in Eastern Madera County.
Colette Goga, president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association board of directors, is serving as coordinator of the event and feels this year’s event will be unlike any seen before.
“We are proud to be honoring long-time residents Ken and Barbara, and Al and Helen, and are excited about the Mountain Area supporting this event,” Gorga said. “Heritage Days is the primary source of funding for the upkeep and improvements for our beloved Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park. It takes a community to keep it alive for future generations. We can’t do it without the community, area businesses, sponsored events, and dedicated volunteers.”
The event kicks off the evening of Sept. 18, at Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park on School Road (425B), with vendors, food booths, a silent auction, and a free country western concert.
The highlight of the event will be the Heritage Days Parade with the Yosemite Mounted Rangers, floats, fire engines, marching school bands, equestrian groups, vintage cars, and clowns, that will take place at 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 19. The parade route travels approximately 1.5 miles from Yosemite High School down School Road, turns right onto Crane Valley Road (426) then right again onto Golden Oak Drive, where it finishes.
Goga said a big addition to the parade this year will be the addition of bleachers for better viewing.
“We are also planning a very special reenactment utilizing the Fresno Flats Jail that people will enjoy,” Goga said.
Immediately following the parade, a free eight-hour country western concert will begin at Fresno Flats.
“The community is invited to attend the free concert, enjoy a wine reception, shop the craft booths, bid on silent auction items, take a guided tour of the historic buildings, and enjoy a delicious barbecue dinner,” Goga said.
Two community couples honored
Ken Kirby was one of the founders of the Oakhurst Lions Club, and he and his wife has been involved in community activities for more than 50 years. Barbara is a past member of the Lady Lions, Mountain Community Women, and the Soroptimist of the Sierras International.
The couple has been married for 67 years, and moved to Oakhurst from Mariposa in the mid-60s. Ken and Barbara both volunteered hundreds of hours to help build the Oakhurst Community Center in 1963-65.
Ken and other volunteers installed the heating system, fabricated the kitchen vent hood, and made stainless steel sinks. Barbara helped install the center’s subfloor.
Al Merkle, who tuns 90 in January, also assisted in the building of the community center, and remembers how the community came together in build the center.
“There wasn’t much up here then ... no banks, two or three gas stations, two or three bars, and a couple markets ... we were all trying to run a business, and most of us were starving, but we would all try to find some time to work on the community center,” Merkle said.
Al and Helen moved to Oakhurst in 1960, and have been married for 68-years.
The couple was active in the Oakhurst Lions Club, VFW, and American Legion.
Originally held from 1964-95, the celebration of the Mountain Area’s history was called Mountaineer Days.
In 1996, because no event was planned, community members banded together for the impromptu Mountain Harvest Festival at the Oakhurst Community Park because many said they missed the fun and camaraderie of Mountaineer Days. That event turned into the first Heritage Days in 1997.
Details: Colette Goga, (559) 683-7977.
Parade entry forms available
Sandy Brinley serves as chairwoman of the parade, and encourages area clubs, organizations, and businesses to enter the parade. Brinley is also seeking $25 business sponsors for parade trophies. Anyone sponsoring a trophy is entered into a drawing for a night stay at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp.
Parade entry forms are available at the Sierra Star, visitor bureau, Oakhurst Gift Works, and on-line at fresnoflatsmuseum.org. Deadline for entries is Sept. 14.
This years parade theme is “Mountain Memories.”
Following the parade, there will be food, entertainment, booths, silent auction and demonstrations at Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park. The day will end with a community salmon and steak dinner.
The event benefits the Sierra Historic Sites Association and the upkeep of Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park.
Details: Sandy Brinley, (559) 683-7027.