Debbie Croft: Holiday events and more in the Foothills

The holidays are upon us, and the foothills communities know how to celebrate. With concerts, parades, tree-lighting ceremonies and festive window displays, there’s so much to do and see in the charming Sierra region.

The Christmas season begins in downtown Sonora tonight with a parade starting at 5:30 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will make a public appearance. There will be decorated floats, marching bands, audio and visual effects, plus store specials and holiday treats.

Two Christmas craft fairs take place in Sonora today through Sunday. The Hometown Crafters Holiday Faire and Boutique will be held in the Opera Hall, 250 S. Washington Street on Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At the Mother Lode Fairgrounds on Stockton Road, the 39th annual Sonora Christmas Craft and Music Festival will be held. The event lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. With crafts, food, elves, music, family entertainment, carolers and more, this has become a popular holiday affair. There is a small fee for parking and admission. A shuttle will run between major shopping centers and the fairgrounds.

The Santa Express is coming to Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. The special holiday train runs Saturday and Sunday, and Dec. 14 and 15. Passengers ride with Santa, departing every hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hot cocoa will be served in the carriage room. Regular ticket prices for the excursion train apply.

This weekend at Railtown, Santa’s Starlight Express will run. Santa will be joined by a train full of carolers, and hot cocoa will be served on board. This is a magical Railtown nighttime experience. Special ticket prices apply. Visit for details, or call (209) 984-3953.

The Curtin Mansion and three other Tuolumne County homes will be on the annual Home Tour, sponsored by Sonora’s branch of the American Association of University Women. The benefit tour includes tea and cookies with a boutique and basket raffle to be held in Faith Hall at the Church of the 49ers. The church is located at Parrotts Ferry Road and Jackson Street in Columbia.

The tour is scheduled for Dec. 7 from noon and 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 each. A free shuttle will be available all afternoon, transporting visitors between two Columbia homes and Columbia Elementary School. Tickets are available by calling (209) 586-1322, or at Sonora’s Mountain Bookshop and Joan’s Boutique or Seven Sisters’ Soap and Candle in Columbia.

Mariposa’s Merry Mountain Christmas Parade will light up the historic Gold Rush town on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. Bring the kids to meet Santa and receive a free gift, then visit shops or listen to carolers while munching on complimentary popcorn provided by Coast Hardware.

Soroptimists of Mariposa will hold its annual Christmas Craft Show at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds on Dec. 6-7. Thousands of handcrafted items will be available for purchase. The show begins at 9 a.m. both days. Santa will be on hand for photos with the kids. Call (209) 742-4680 for details.

The Mariposa Community Chorus and Mariposa County High School choirs will present their holiday concert “Music for the Season.” The groups will appear on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. in the MCHS’s Fiester Auditorium. The school’s address is 5074 Old Highway North, located at the east end of Eighth Street. Tickets are available from choir members and at the door for $5.

Two art exhibits are being shown in Oakhurst and Fresno:

“Gathering” is a special exhibit of the Sierra Art Trails. At Oakhurst’s Stellar Gallery the work of 40 artists in a variety of media is on display through Dec. 8. The gallery is located at 40982 Highway 41, Suite 1. For more information call (559) 658-8844. Visit or

A Sense of Place Gallery in Fresno is holding the exhibit, “Reflections and Shadows.” Visitors will find the work of 15 artists on display through early December. Details can be found at The gallery is located at 2003 N. Van Ness Blvd. Call (559) 392-6775 for complete information.