City Beat

Gold Rush Days returning to Old Sacramento

Members of Company F, 2nd Calvary - locally known as the Sacramento Rangers during the 1800's - are passed by cyclists on Front Street on Sept. 3, 2011. Gold Rush Days is set to return to Old Sacramento this year.
Members of Company F, 2nd Calvary - locally known as the Sacramento Rangers during the 1800's - are passed by cyclists on Front Street on Sept. 3, 2011. Gold Rush Days is set to return to Old Sacramento this year. Sacramento Bee file

Gold Rush Days are coming back to Sacramento.

The popular annual event that was canceled last year because of the drought is scheduled to return to Old Sacramento over Labor Day weekend. There will be one big difference this year: Organizers said they won’t cover the streets in dirt, meaning they won’t have to wash those streets off with thousands of gallons of water.

Jody Ulich, head of the city’s Convention & Cultural Services Department, said the city plans to use the $25,000 it spends on water and dirt and pump it into enhanced performances at the event. Ulich is scheduled to provide a more specific update on the event at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

“We’re still finalizing the plans, but people will have that feeling of being in Gold Rush Days,” Ulich said. “We want to be incredibly sensitive because of the drought. I think we can put on a dynamite event.”

City Council members and business leaders were caught off guard last year when the event was abruptly canceled. Organizers said they use 3,000 gallons of water every day during the festival to keep dust on the streets damp – then another 100,000 gallons to clean the streets when the event is over.

In its place, city tourism officials put on an event called Americana in Old Sacramento that included live music, educational activities and a car show. But Old Sacramento merchants complained it didn’t draw anywhere near the 100,000 or so spectators who annually attend Gold Rush Days.

Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents Old Sacramento, said “it sounds like (event organizers) have hit the sweet spot.”

“When Gold Rush Days doesn’t happen, it’s a tragedy for a lot of those small businesses and retailers because they depend on that revenue,” he said.

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