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Gold Rush Days canceled in 2018. When will it return?

Jeremiah Johnston enthralls a crowd with his juggling and magic act in 2015 during Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento. Gold Rush Days will be canceled this year before moving to Memorial Day weekend next year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad's completion.
Jeremiah Johnston enthralls a crowd with his juggling and magic act in 2015 during Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento. Gold Rush Days will be canceled this year before moving to Memorial Day weekend next year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad's completion. rbeyer@sacbee.com

Gold Rush Days won't take place in 2018, but is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend next year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad's completion.

Triple-digit heat over Labor Day weekend 2017 forced organizers to cancel outdoor events such as horse and wagon rides and kept sweaty visitors moving from building to building, chasing air conditioning as much as the next exhibition.

"There were no people in the streets. They came to Old Sac, but then they just went inside," said Brooksie Hughes, Old Sacramento district director. "When you take away key elements (to accommodate for the heat), you're not able to produce the event in its best light."

When word came out in December that the Sacramento Music Festival would no longer continue, organizers began devising a plan to move Gold Rush Days to May.

They figured they wouldn't have time to plan the event in the five months before Memorial Day weekend 2018, especially since some sponsors may be unable or unwilling to donate ahead of schedule.

Gold Rush Days has historically incorporated nuggets of life in the 1850s such as homemade sarsaparilla, gold panning and buying products from blacksmiths' shops, as well as modern amenities such as a pub crawl. Concrete changes to the free event schedule have yet to be announced, but Hughes said the 2019 event would involve more railroad history - such as the first spike reportedly being driven at K and Front streets - and highlight the route's effect.

Spanning from Sacramento to Omaha, Neb., the Transcontinental Railroad revolutionized U.S. domestic trade and travel following its completion on May 10, 1869. Traveling from East to West Coast took six months and cost $1,000 before its construction. After the railroad was completed, people could get from one end of the country to the other in one week for $150.

A multitude of local groups and government agencies, including the city of Sacramento, Visit Sacramento and Sacramento History Alliance work together to put on Gold Rush Days. They're hoping to host another unannounced entertainment option for Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer this year, Hughes said.

“We absolutely support the decision to move Gold Rush Days to Memorial Day weekend when temperatures are likely to be much milder, allowing us to offer our full suite of interpretive programming for guests to experience and enjoy,” said Kristina Swanson, CEO of the Sacramento History Museum & Sacramento History Alliance. “It also makes complete sense to pause the event while we collectively work to make the event better than ever.”

Benjy Egel: (916) 321-1052, begel@sacbee.com

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