Did You Know These 6 Facts about Gold Nugget Days?

Hoop skirts, donkeys, parades–there’s nothing quite so synonymous with Paradise than the beloved tradition of Gold Nugget Days. Traditionally held in April to celebrate the history of the Ridge, the three-day event is chock full of family-friendly activities in pursuit of celebrating rich community traditions.

To celebrate Gold Nugget Days returning to the Ridge in 2021 after last year’s pandemic hiatus, we spoke with Executive Director Mark Thorp to learn a little bit more about the history–and future–of the event.

How many of these facts did you know?

  1. Gold Nugget Days is actually an event put on by Gold Nugget Days, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 1973 by community members dedicated to the stewardship of the historical artifacts of the community.

  2. These artifacts, of course, included the namesake 54lb gold nugget found at the Willard Mine, Magalia, in 1859.

  3. Gold Nugget Days, Inc., oversees many community locations and programs:

    1. Gold Nugget Museum–Old Location: On a lease from PRPD

    2. Gold Nugget Museum–New Location: Owned by the Museum

    3. Depot Museum: On a lease from the Town of Paradise

    4. Gold Nugget Parade

    5. Donkey Derby

    6. Days of Living History

    7. Gold Nugget Queen Contest

    8. Gem & Mineral Show

    9. Halloween at the Museum

    10. Horse Festival

    11. Design Oversight of Covered Bridge

    12. Elementary School Education Days

  4. The Gold Nugget Parade has been making its way through Paradise since 1959.

  5. The charter for Gold Nugget Days, Inc., actually requires there to be a parade (barring emergencies like the pandemic and fire, of course). Guaranteed fun!

  6. Artifacts are considered very carefully. The CSU Chico Anthropology and Museum Certification Program works with board members and employees to assist in conservation efforts.

Since its earliest days, the Gold Nugget parade and related events have been a symbol of the strong community spirit at the heart of Ridge residents. “From the first Maidu to the early settlers and miners, the Ridge has benefitted from the various generations that have inhabited the area,” said Thorp. 

“There is an ongoing celebration of family and community through street names, trails, and collected items. From Yellowstone Kelly to the Fosters, Neals, and Elliotts, the tradition was carried on through the small community atmosphere.” Their commitment to posterity carried on much of the tradition still alive and thriving on the Ridge, and the ongoing effort to preserve and cherish that tradition is alive and well with those returning to the Ridge.

In the early days post-fire, the Gold Nugget Museum and Norton Buffalo Hall (previously known as the Grange) were determined in the Paradise Long Term Recovery Plan as two organizations best equipped to lead cultural programs forward in rebuilding the Ridge. While the loss of the original museum property and its contents was devastating, Thorp and the board of Gold Nugget Days, Inc., look forward to their task with excitement.

The possibilities for cultural growth are huge,” said Thorp. With diminished resources, he said, boards of organizations across the Ridge, have begun working together more.

“Pre-fire, a large number of organizations were siloed; they functioned mostly autonomously and collaborated with other organizations as necessary. What has bloomed from the fire and pandemic is that these siloed walls have fallen.”

Gold Nugget Days, Inc. looks forward to working with Buffalo Hall, Theater on the Ridge, Paradise Art Center, and many other cultural organizations in the area. “We’re having constructive conversations about sharing resources, using our collective workforce for projects. There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm because there are more projects than we can ever complete.”

His advice to other organizations considering a return? “Express your needs and collaborate with other organizations, both public and private. Both have the opportunity to secure grants and work together toward targeted projects with limited resources.”

The return of the Gold Nugget Days Parade and related festivities this weekend is, of course, one such project. While the Terry Ashe Park won’t be holding their craft fair until June, the grounds of the new Museum property at 475 Pearson Road will be occupied by a unique show from the Paradise Gem & Mineral Club, returning to the Gold Nugget Days events after over 10 years. In addition, there will be at least 25 vendors with food trucks, entertainment, and blacksmithing for the community to enjoy.

And  the timing couldn’t be better! Whether it’s the emergence of spring, good weather, vaccines, or just good old fashioned camaraderie, Thorp hopes people will enjoy the opportunity to celebrate safely. “The faces. The smiles. The laughter: it’s the community getting back together one way or another – that’s the most important thing.”

Make it Paradise Newsletter

This newsletter is designed to keep you informed of the ongoing recovery efforts as we rebuild Paradise.  Each week you will receive a newsletter with events, current numbers (building permits, etc.), current topics and a weekly Q&A.

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