Debbie Croft: Foothill events are worth the drive

composed@tds.netFebruary 6, 2014 

DEBBIE CROFT

Just because there’s not much snow in the mountains doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do up here. Our communities have planned some exciting seasonal events in the Sierra Nevada region.

• The National Park Service has announced its free fee days for this year. Entrance fees to any of our nation’s federally protected parks are waived during Presidents Day weekend. Regular fees still apply for camping, lodging and some activities. Go to www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit for more information.

• More than 25 films will be shown at the Range of Light Film Festival in Yosemite National Park later this month. Feature-length movies and short films are on the program. A few contemporary films will première, and others will be selected from the park’s archives. More than 20 artists and filmmakers are planning to attend, including Jeremy Collins, Amy Marquis, Christopher Munch, Ian Ruhter, John Else and Glen Denny.

The festival is scheduled for Feb. 27 through March 2. This is the first year for the event. Festival sponsors are the Yosemite Conservancy, the National Park Service and Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts at Yosemite.

The festival will be held in the newly renovated Yosemite Theater, behind the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center. Lodging discounts are available for festival attendees. The films to be shown are posted at the website. Go to www.rolff.org for details and to purchase tickets.

• The Mariposa County Arts Council’s Young Masters Youth Art Exhibit is currently on display at the Treetop Gallery.

“This was our first year with a theme, ‘Creating our National Parks,’ ” says MCAC director Cara Goger. In celebration of the Yosemite Grant’s 150th anniversary, student artists depicted their favorite places in and near Yosemite. The Young Masters exhibit will show through this month.

MCAC and the gallery are at 5009 State Highway 140, above Chocolate Soup on Mariposa’s south end of town. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (209) 966-3155 or (800) 903-9936, or go to www.mariposaartscouncil.org for details.

• What better place for solving a mystery than Columbia State Historic Park? Murder, suspense, comedy and romance combine in an evening of sleuth-playing on Feb. 15. Columbia’s newest dinner-theater event draws guests into the mystery, and nobody knows who might be sitting next to the murderer!

“The Curse of the Nugget of Love” is this month’s production by Footlight Theatre Company. A heart-shaped gold nugget was stolen, and three unfortunate individuals were murdered in the process. Over the years the lost nugget became a legend – with a curse.

This is the first in a series of Footlight Murders, to be held the second Saturday of the month. Each month the story will change, but the intrigue is guaranteed.

Hosted by a local winery, an “interrogation reception” will begin in Angelo’s Hall at 5:30 p.m. Guests will have the chance to meet the characters and become acquainted with the story.

Dinner will be served by Columbia House Restaurant and Catering around 6 p.m. Tickets must be reserved at least 48 hours in advance, and space is limited. A silent auction will benefit the Tuolumne County Arts Alliance. For details, go to www.footlighttheatre.org or call (209) 728-8072.

• Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown is accepting applications for park volunteers and hosts. A special open house will be held Saturday for those interested in learning more about volunteer positions. This event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Park staff and current volunteers will be available to guide informal tours and answer questions. Applications must be submitted by Feb. 12. Training will begin on Feb. 15.

Serving in this capacity provides the opportunity to support a state park. Volunteers inform visitors of the fascinating history of the railroad made famous in movies for the past 85 years.

And on Roundhouse Day, Railtown invites the public to watch engineers and volunteers prepare the steam locomotives for the upcoming season. There will be a lot of activity in and around the shops Feb. 15.

For more information about these two events, call (209) 984-3953 or go to www.railtown1897.org.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. She can be reached at composed@tds.net.

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