Mariposa Life

Music, history and charm in the foothills

Temperatures are cooler in the foothills and higher Sierra elevations. Our summer events offer a reason to escape the heat, slow down, enjoy a change of scenery and breathe.

In a charming small town known as Moke Hill to the locals, Mokelumne Hill brims with Gold Rush history, friendly faces and an official “stress free zone.”

A new bus route connects Murphys, Angels Camp, San Andreas and Valley Springs to Moke Hill. For a nominal fee visitors interested in shopping, dining, sight-seeing and more can ride the Saturday Hopper. The buses run approximately every 90 minutes, and are equipped with wheelchair lifts and bike racks.

From caverns, big trees and mountain views to jumping frogs, local produce, museums, outdoor recreation and cultural fairs, this region of the foothills is worth the drive. See for more information.

Mariposa Symphony Orchestra is wrapping up its five-county tour of founder and director Les Marsden’s commemorative work entitled “Our Nation’s Nature.” The composition of four movements celebrates the National Park Service’s upcoming 100-year anniversary. The last public appearance will take place Saturday, Aug. 20, in Mammoth Lakes. Prior performances were held in Merced, Mariposa, Madera and Tuolumne counties.

Lovely Films, a Bay Area company, produced a short documentary featuring the MSO tour. Find Lovely Films on Facebook to watch the video. And visit for more information on the orchestra and future performances.

Music on the Green runs through August with outdoor concerts in Mariposa’s Art Park every Friday and Saturday evening. A different California band plays each night. Music ranges from the GrassKickers’ bluegrass, Adam Burns’ classic and folk rock, the blues and jazz tunes of Tim Hager and Jon Kidd, to the folk-a-delic sounds of Madera County’s Good Medicine.

This event is in its 25th year. Concerts are free; bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating, and find details at the Arts Council website.

Wednesdays are kids day this month for riding the rails at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. Departure times are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., with a story time at noon in the caboose.

Behind the Scenes Tours are offered every second Tuesday of the month and weekend Excursion Tours run on Saturdays and Sundays through October. Visit or call 209-984-3953 for complete info on these events and more.

Family Day takes place this month at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park; a Gold and Outdoor Festival will be held in Sonora; and History’s Mysteries and the Dadgum Button Show are two upcoming Gold Rush-style happenings in Columbia. See Tuolumne County’s events calendar for details at

If you loved the music and the mod outfits – and the bouffant hair – of the 1960s, you won’t want to miss Sierra Repertory Theatre’s current production “Beehive: The ’60s Musical Sensation.”

Starring an all-female cast, six multitalented actresses dance and sing their way through this nostalgic journey, highlighting a decade of cultural swings. Ariel Daly, Fay James, Gabrielle Jackson, Natalie Anne MacDonald, Roslyn Seale and Samantha Gershman perform some of the era’s legendary tunes from more than 20 well-known pop singers.

Director-choreographer Russell Garrett and SRT’s musical director Mark Seiver combine their creative skills, with the help of 40 costumes (and who knows how many cans of hairspray) and more than 30 hit songs, in this musical revue.

“Beehive” runs through Aug. 28 at SRT’s East Sonora Theatre, located at 13891 Mono Way. Call 209-532-3120 or visit for show times and ticket information.

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