CROFT: Celebrate Independence Day in the foothills

Nothing quite compares to a visit to the foothills for an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration. Head for the pines next weekend and treat the family to a memorable day trip. Just be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water.

The Columbia Militia will open the Independence Day ceremony with a flag-raising and black powder rifle salute at 11 a.m. Later, the Great Mother Lode Brass and Reed Band will perform on Main Street. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and arrive early for best parking and viewing. Park entrance and parking are free.

During the afternoon, popular 1800s activities will take place, including greased pole climbing, nail pounding, tug-of-war, watermelon- and pie-eating contests, egg toss and egg relay, a cake walk and the bucket brigade. These events cost $1 each.

A tri-tip barbecue dinner will be held following the parade. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 10 and will be available at 10 a.m.

On the program are Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” Richard Rodgers’ “Victory at Sea Suite,” and Dr. Phil Smith’s “Armed Forces Salute.”

Before the concert, a grilled hot dog dinner will be served from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Proceeds from the dinner will help fund summer music and art programs for youth. Tickets must be purchased by July 1. For more information, call the Arts Council at (209) 966-3155 or visit

Mariposa Symphony Orchestra violinist Matt Kroeker entered a piece titled “Symphony No. 1 opus 49.” The 12-year-old is an avid student and musician. In the past, he’s performed with the Honor Orchestra in Fresno and at the California Music Education Association Solo Festival.

“Zindabad” is a first-time entry from 13-year-old Makinna D. Dulcich. She plays piano and saxophone and plans to learn other instruments. Makinna not only enjoys art, music and writing, she has earned a black belt in martial arts.

Veteran Young Masters winner and pianist Emily Croft composed “Silver Sky.” She recently graduated from Glacier High School Charter in Oakhurst. Her hobbies include reading, writing (both fiction and music) and swimming.

Mariposa Symphony Orchestra founder and conductor Les Marsden orchestrated the compositions to be performed at next weekend’s concert. Each winner receives a $50 prize, a certificate, an audio recording of the orchestrated works and the complete score of this year’s entries.