Old Sacramento Gold Rush Days Cancelled

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Old Sacramento’s signature event on the Labor Day weekend was cancelled after organizers determined that it would require too much water to stage.

Gold Rush Days has been held for the better part of 15 years in Old Sacramento and features dirt spread over the cobblestone and asphalt pavement. But the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau which organizes the event said that 3,000 gallons of water a day is used to reduce dust and 100,000 gallons of water is needed to clean the streets after the event.

“Dirt covered streets is clearly not an option during the continuing drought which impacts the event on multiple levels including the safety and well-being of the horses, riders and performers,” said Steve Hammond, President and CEO of the bureau.

Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento
Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento, September 2013. The weekend event will not be held this year.

Alternatives were considered, including holding the event without the dirt on the streets. But Mike Testa of the bureau says it would not be the unique event that 100 thousand people come to experience. He said going ahead would not be responsible.

“I think if people saw the visual of 100,000 gallons of water cleaning up an event, it would not look very positive,” said Testa.

Old Sacramento merchants are not happy. The event has over taken the Sacramento Music Festival, formerly the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, as the most well attended event in Old Sacramento. Some told Fox40 News that it was another example of the city ignoring the needs of Old Sacramento.

“Business is definitely going to take a hit,” said Jason Chan, owner of Cali T’s, a T-shirt shop on 2nd Street.

But he said he understood why it was being doing.

“What can we do? It’s another example of what the drought cost us. It doesn’t only affect farmers, it affecting local businesses as well,” said Chan.

The Old Sacramento Business Association is scrambling to bring entertainment and promotions to the district on Labor Day Weekend to help boost businesses.The bands that were contracted to play the event will still entertain during holiday weekend.

“By the end of the week we should have a whole slate of fun events that are going to bring additional people down here,” said Chris McSwain, the association’s executive director.

Ann Tatum has been a part of every Gold Rush Days giving rides to tourists in her horse drawn carriage. She says an event could have been staged without the dirt, but it wouldn’t be the same or as enjoyable. She hopes that Old Sacramento can still be a draw on Labor Day weekend without Gold Rush Days.

“It may cut business back a little bit, but it is a holiday weekend and I hope people will come out for it,” said Tatum.

Organizers say they are committed to staging the event next year if winter brings more rainfall and the drought ends.

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