Debbie Croft: Foothills busy with spring activities

In the foothills the air is clear and the sky is blue, and a few wildflowers have already opened up. There’s much to see and do this month and next in the Sierra region:

• “McQuadle: A Dragon’s Tale” is on stage this weekend at the Mariposa County High School. In a comedy packed with charm, silliness and a lesson worth learning, McQuadle is a dragon in search of his life purpose.

This high school drama club production will be performed at 7 p.m. tonight; 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the Mariposa County Arts Council, Mariposa’s Pony Expresso, online at or at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. in the Fiester Auditorium.

• Yosemite Western Artists presents its annual Plein Air Art Show on Saturday. At Ahwahnee’s historic Gertrude Schoolhouse, the work of 10 to 12 artists will be on display. All artwork features landscapes in and around the Sierra.

The show will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The schoolhouse is a few miles northwest of Oakhurst on Highway 49. It sits on Road 600 about 11/2 miles from the highway.

• The popular barbecue rib dinner offered by Mariposa’s Farm Bureau will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Frank Souza Jr. is the chef. The dinner is served in the Hornitos Stagg Hall, and takeout is available. The cost is $12 for adults; $5 for children ages 5 to 12. Tickets may be purchased at 5117 Bullion St., or by calling (209) 742-5875 or (209) 376-2365.

• Columbia State Historic Park celebrates its 165th birthday March 27. Learn about the discovery of gold in Tuolumne County from costumed docents. Beginning at noon, visitors will enjoy free town tours and refreshments. For a step back in time, shops will be open along Main Street. Call (209) 588-9128 for details.

• The La Grange Rodeo starts with a dance March 29 at the Oakdale rodeo grounds, 1624 E. F Street in Oakdale. The band Never 2 Late will play from 8 p.m. to midnight. Doors open at 7 p.m.

On April 6 the roping and riding events start at 8 a.m. The rodeo queen will be crowned at noon, and the grand entry takes place at 1 p.m.

Tickets are available from local businesses, queen candidates or at the gate. The rodeo arena is at 30433 Yosemite Blvd. La Grange is on Highway 132, just east of Highway 59, 25 miles west of Coulterville, 30 miles east of Modesto. Go to for more information, or call (209) 988-7079.

• The Gold Rush Dinner/Dance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 29. This annual benefit is held by the Mariposa Soroptimists. Dinner and dancing will take place in Building A at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds. Music is provided by K.A. Country, with line-dancing lessons available.

Tickets are $20 each and available at Happy Burger Diner. Western attire is appropriate. Call (209) 769-1451 for details.

• Jamestown’s Railtown 1897 will celebrate its opening weekend April 5-6. Special activities will be held both days. On this weekend only, visitors from Tuolumne, Mariposa and Calaveras counties ride for free, with proof of residency.

Visitors arriving at 7 a.m. can watch the steam engine crew at work in the roundhouse. Regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from April to October. Trains operate hourly from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Go to or call (209) 984-3953 for more information.