Mariposa Life

Debbie Croft: Celebrating America’s Independence Day

July 4 calls us to remember the gift of freedom and those who secured it for us. It’s also a time to enjoy family and friends. Come to the foothills communities this weekend to experience old-fashioned charm and warm hospitality from your neighbors up the road.

The winners of this year’s Mariposa Symphony Orchestra’s Young Master Composers Celebration were due to play their original compositions, at the July 3 concert in the park.

Both Matt Kroeker, 13, and Sean Cox, 15, are violinists in the MSO. Their musical works were awarded the distinction of being orchestrated and then were to be performed live for their families, neighbors and friends.

Kroeker’s piece is titled “Symphony No. 3,” and Cox’s work is “Freedom’s Flame.”

MSO founder and conductor Les Marsden says, “Each composition is approximately five minutes in length … both were written following (specific) guidelines.”

The winners received $50 in cash, a certificate, a sound recording of the orchestrated compositions, and a full orchestral score of this year’s pieces.

Congratulations to these young men, and we hope to hear more of their musical talents in the future!

In Coulterville on July 4, the Fire Brigade holds its 46th annual deep pit BBQ fundraiser event. Captain Brian Conley is the barbecue chef, and has created a new pork ribs recipe for the occasion. All proceeds go to Mariposa County Fire Coulterville Station 26 and the Greeley Hill Station 31.

Debbie Cook says, “It’s tasty, and only $10 for adults and $5 for kids.”

The meal includes beans, salad and bread. Beverages are sold separately. Dinner will be served all afternoon, until 6 p.m., and to-go boxes are available.

Activities include water games, relay races, crafts and more good old American fun, according to local residents. The pool will be open from noon to 5 p.m. It all takes place at the Coulterville Park, next to Hotel Jeffrey in the center of town.

Also during the afternoon enjoy the lively music of Coyote Hill Band. Bring your own lawn/camp chairs or blanket for outdoor seating. Call 209-878-3227 or 209-878-3792, or email for more information.

If you’ve never experienced America’s birthday in Columbia State Historic Park, what are you waiting for? The Glorious Fourth of July Celebration starts at 11 a.m. with a ceremonial flag-raising and black-powder musket salute.

The Gold Rush town’s famous all-American parade begins at noon. Park entrance and parking are free; bring chairs and come early to find the best viewing spot.

Throughout the afternoon visitors can enjoy music by the Great Mother Lode Brass and Reed Band. Try dancing in the street or enter one of many contests and games popular in the mid-1800s. Only $1 for each entry.

Bring a picnic lunch or get your tickets early for pulled-pork sandwiches.

Details are available at the website, or by calling 209-536-1672.

Harold Hill has come to Columbia. “The Music Man” is now on stage at Sierra Repertory’s Fallon House theater.

Ralph Krumins holds the lead role in this classic production. Krumins is SRT’s educational director. Audience members might recognize him after his recent appearances in “Les Misèrables,” “Pump Boys and Dinettes” and “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.”

The romantic comedy tells of a con artist, Hill, who visits a small Midwestern town in the early 1900s to sell musical instruments and band uniforms to unsuspecting locals. He convinces the residents he plans to organize a boys band, even though his knowledge of music is lacking – to the point of nonexistence.

His scheme falls flat when his heart takes the lead. Marian the town librarian, played by Lauren Roesner of Chicago, brings a different kind of music into his life and persuades Hill to change his ways and settle down.

This production comprises SRT’s largest cast ever, and is gaining enthusiastic reviews with impressive costumes, scenery, choreography, and of course those well-known, decades-old songs.

“It’s Americana and a lot of fun,” Krumins says.

You’ll be transported 100 years in the past with “The Music Man,” playing now through Aug. 16. Visit for show times and more, or call 209-532-3120.

For your summer reading list, “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville and “Encyclopedia of the American Revolution” by Mark Boatner are great choices. Visit for more suggestions to refresh your understanding of our nation’s history.

Happy Independence Day!

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. Follow her on Twitter @ghostowngal or email her at