There is reason to celebrate in Angels Camp as the city marks the 165th anniversary of its founding with a street fair this month and a commemorative stamp cancellation running through the end of the year.
Rhode Islanders Henry and George Angel, U.S. Army veterans, set up a store in 1848 as the California Gold Rush got underway. Their “camp” became a bustling town and finally incorporated as a city in 1912.
The city held a series of events including an antique car show, old-fashioned Fourth of July picnic and downtown street fair last year to commemorate the centennial of its incorporation.
Similar celebrations are in order for the founding anniversary and next year the city is set to mark 150 years since author Mark Twain spent a winter in the Mother Lode, putting the town on the map with the subsequent publication of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”
The marquee event this year will be a street fair much like last year’s, closing down South Main Street in the historic downtown district from Sams Way to Vallecito Road for “Gold Rush Day” on Aug. 31.
The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the road closed between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Highway 49 travelers will be re-routed along the Highway 4 bypass and Vallecito Road.
Headlining blues band Big Earl and the Cryin’ Shame will return.
“He was a real big crowd pleaser,” said Angels Camp Business Association President Tey Cross. “A little bit bluesy, a little bit rock ‘n roll, just a really good band.”
Also back will be games for children and a soapbox derby at Utica Park, a frog jumping competition and a variety of Wild West-style gunfight skits from Sierra Nevada Guns for Hire, based in Amador County.
“The city absolutely was thrilled with the production that we put on (last year) so we’ll be following the same model,” Cross said.
Admission is free and shuttles will run from the parking lots at the county fairgrounds south of the city and the main Bret Harte High School parking lot on Murphys Grade Road near South Main Street.
Cross said the late summer street fair and Fourth of July festivities at Utica Park are now envisioned as annual happenings in the city, even after the series of anniversary celebrations has run its course.
Since late June, the Angels Camp and Altaville post offices have been providing custom stamp cancellations in honor of the latest anniversary. The cancellation consists of the frog-emblazoned seal the city’s Centennial Celebration Committee made for the centennial with the addition of the words “Founded 1848” and “Celebrating 165 Years.”
As collectors of cancellations find out about it, more are coming in to request the mark, Angels Camp Postmaster Laney Henderson said.
Postal clerks are ready with the right festive color in hand for such an occasion, she said.