For a painless history lesson– and a lot of fun–take your family to Paradise during the 2017 Gold Nugget Days celebration. Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 27 through Sunday, April 30. Most of the events are free, making the scenic trip from Chico to Paradise well worth the effort.

Gold Nugget Days commemorates the discovery of the famous 54-pound Dogtown nugget, way back in April, 1859. This year’s theme is “Golden Heroes.”

The celebration gets under way with the Gold Nugget Queen Contest. Each of the contestants must design a dress representing the period from 1850-1899, secure a sponsor, adhere to a strict budget, and put together an elaborate portfolio. The winner is crowned during Thursday night’s Opening Ceremonies.

The Saturday morning Donkey Derby recreates the original trek that delivered the Dogtown nugget to what is now Old Magalia. The race runs from the bridge over the Feather River, uphill to the parking lot of the Old Magalia Community Church, with each donkey carrying a sack weighing 54 pounds. Drovers then try to persuade their animals to negotiate an obstacle course, including the dreaded water hole. The drovers’ determination to get their donkeys across the finish line is matched by the donkeys’ determination to stop in their tracks.

The awe-inspiring Gold Nugget Days Parade begins at noon on Saturday in downtown Paradise. Entrants vie for trophies and ribbons in many categories, including: floats, marching units, motor vehicles, equestrian, and commercial. The parade ends at the Paradise Community Park, where the floats will be on display
There will be food, music, and fun for the whole family.

The Gold Nugget Museum will be open throughout the four-day celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be food, a sweet shop, and music. The Paradise Depot Museum, with its Butte County Railroad model, will be open Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The Depot’s tenth anniversary will be celebrated with special events.

The Children’s Costume Contest takes place at the Paradise Community Park, Saturday after the parade. Children ranging from pre-school through fifth grades dress up as pioneers, miners, cowboys, or cowgirls.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the Dogtown Nugget, available at the Gold Nugget Museum, as well as at local businesses and restaurants. This souvenir program covers all the Gold Nugget Days activities, including a detailed schedule of events.

A word of warning: Anyone not wearing a 2017 Gold Nugget Days badge will be considered “outside the law” and as such will be confined to the Calaboose by the High Sheriff and his able deputies. Badges are available for $2 throughout Paradise. Be sure to register your badge at the museum for a chance at winning a genuine gold nugget.


By Kathy Schovajsa

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