Debbie Croft: Holiday events fill warmer weekends in the foothills

The weather outside was frightful last weekend, disrupting plans for events in the mountain communities. But this weekend should be sunny and warmer. The following list includes originally scheduled and rescheduled events in Mariposa, Madera and Tuolumne counties:

• Sonora’s American Association of University Women is holding its rescheduled annual home tour on Saturday. Four beautiful homes in Sonora and Columbia will open their doors from noon to 4 p.m., including the Curtin Mansion, which has been recently renovated. A free shuttle will provide transportation throughout the afternoon. It will depart from Columbia Elementary School beginning at 11:45 a.m.

In conjunction with the tour, a boutique, raffle and refreshments will be held during the same hours at the Church of the 49ers at Parrotts Ferry Road and Jackson Street in Columbia.

Tickets purchased for the original date will be honored. Tickets are still available and may be purchased at Mountain Bookshop and Joan’s Boutique in Sonora, and at Seven Sisters Soap and Candle shop in Columbia. Call (209) 536-0270 or email for details.

• Columbia State Historic Park’s Los Posadas Nativity Procession has also been rescheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. This traditional Spanish re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s journey to find shelter in Bethlehem has been held in Columbia since 1983 – in 1850s style, of course. Fresh greenery decorates the Gold Rush town, and luminarias will light the way for the couple and their donkey. Visitors are invited to join in singing carols by candlelight after the procession. Call Columbia Chamber of Commerce for more information at

(209) 536-1672


• A Cowboy Christmas with Tim Johnson and special musical guests will be performed twice on Sunday. The concerts will be held at 3 and 6 p.m. at Oakhurst Lutheran Church, 39255 Black Road, just off Road 426.

Guest appearances include: Bobby Black, world-renowned master on steel guitar (both lap and pedal) who has performed with more than 100 artists in a career spanning more than 50 years; and singer-songwriter Jimmy Collier, who traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., opened for Pete Seeger, appeared on “Sesame Street” and played in Carnegie Hall. Kirk Moulin, John Kilburn, Eddie Guzman, Arnie Johnson and Cliff Neufeld will complete the cowboy band.

Tickets are available at the church for $15 each. Seating is limited. Call (559) 683-4673 for details.

Johnson was the founder of the Merced College String Orchestra and a former member of Sons of the San Joaquin. He holds the Western Music Association’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award for 2007.

Also on Sunday, Johnson will treat audiences to selections performed from his newest CD, “American Gospel: Songs of My Father,” which will be released in January.

• The Mariposa Symphony Orchestra will perform its Festive Holiday Concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 21. On the program are: Émile Waldteufel’s “The Skater’s Waltz,” Beethoven’s “Leonore” Overture No. 3, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” Suite with the rare “English Dance” restored especially for the group, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and Marsden’s “Sierra Christmas Party.” In addition, Gay Hagen Dunn will perform the solo for Edouard Lalo’s Cello Concerto Intermezzo on her 1795 Josef Klotz cello.

The concert will be held in the Fiester Auditorium of Mariposa County High School at the east end of Eighth Street. Tickets are available at the Mariposa County Arts Council (upstairs at Chocolate Soup), at the Visitors Center (Highways 140 and 49 North) or at the door. For more information, call (209) 966-3155 or go to

• At the north end of Mariposa County, celebrate Christmas in Coulterville on Dec. 21, beginning with a pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. Breakfast will be served in the IOOF hall by the Rebekahs of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Santa is planning to arrive at the firehouse at noon. Complimentary hot chocolate and cookies will keep tummies from growling while waiting in line for photos.

From 1 to 4 p.m., a complimentary holiday meal will be served at the old schoolhouse. And the Christmas boutique at the IOOF Hall takes place from 1 to 5 p.m. (Proceeds from the breakfast and boutique will be used for restoration of the historic lodge.)

The Gold Country Singers will perform holiday favorites at the Methodist church at 3 p.m. And at 5 p.m. there will be story time in the IOOF Hall. For details, call (209) 878-3792.