Summer's winding down, but there's still a lot to do in the foothills communities this month:
Mariposa's Art Hop takes place the second Friday and Saturday of each month, from 5 to 8 p.m. Look for the colorful Art Hop flags Aug. 9 and 10 and visit participating merchants in Mariposa. Mingle with featured artists while enjoying refreshments and live music. Visit www.mariposaarthop.com for details or call Barbara at (209) 377-8233.
History's Mysteries in Columbia State Historic Park will take place Saturdays this month: today, Aug. 17 and 31 beginning at 10 a.m. Families or groups can solve an actual crime that took place in Columbia during the 1800s. Witness the event, conduct interviews to gather clues, take suspicious characters to court and interrogate them to determine the outcome. The cost is only $5 for adults and $1 for kids ages 12 and under. Call (209) 588-9128 or visit www. visitcolumbiacalifornia. com. Reservations are recommended.
Magic of the Night is a free event in downtown Sonora on Aug. 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. Central and Northern California musicians are scheduled to perform at locations around town: The Devil Mountain Boys, The Hills Brothers Band, The Blues Box Bayou Band, Chains Required, and Rockin Rick and the Rhythm Wranglers. Also appearing will be The Burning Sky Musicians, Mountain Mischief and Hard Luck Lin.
Motherlode Corvettes will be on display that evening, and Sound Extreme will provide lights and sound. Specials for that night only will be offered by local merchants. For more information, call (209) 532-7725 or email email@example.com.
The national book launch of "High Country Women: Pioneers of Yosemite National Park" will take place Aug. 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce. Author Chris Enss will attend, bringing books to be bought and signed.
The Mariposa Chamber office is at the Mariposa County Visitors Center on the southwest corner of Highways 140 and 49. Call (209) 966-2456 or go to www.mariposachamber. org for details.
At Calaveras Big Trees State Park, an annual Family Day will be held Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most activities that day are free. Call (209) 795-3840 for more information or go to www.parks.ca.gov.
Entrance to all national parks is free on Aug. 25, in honor of the National Park Service's birthday. It will celebrate 96 years of caring for the 397 national parks. Hundreds of special events are planned for the celebration. Visit an archaeological dig, go kayaking or listen to a performance of Native American music.
The National Park Foundation has created a website with information specific to the big day. Visit www.npsbirthday. org to send birthday wishes, share experiences or upload photos or videos about your visits to our parks.
In Mariposa, ride the trolley for free all summer long. Look for the old-fashioned conveyance Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sit back and enjoy the scenery while traveling from one end of town to the other. The trolley's friendly tour guide will point out spots for dining and shopping, as well as places of historic note. Be sure to stop at our historic jail (built in 1858) and courthouse (established in 1824) for free tours.
Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.