Gold Rush Days returns to downtown Yreka: What to know about the festival in 2022

Skip Descant
Special to the Siskiyou Daily News
In this Sept. 6, 2013 photo, a car is driven down Miner Street past the historic Franco American Hotel in Yreka. The former gold mining town served as the temporary capital of a proposed State of Jefferson in 1941 when residents of Southern Oregon and Northern California launched a drive to become their own state.

A multi-day festival to call attention to Yreka’s gold rush and frontier past will also double as a prime event to showcase downtown businesses. 

“Gold Rush Days celebrates Yreka's unique foundation as a bustling cosmopolitan gold rush-era city,” said Kory Hayden, one of the key organizers for the event. “For a period of time Yreka was a sister city to San Francisco and a significant transportation and communication hub, with the Franco-American Hotel, Third Street, and Yreka stagecoach routes drawing impressive visits by dignitaries.” 

Gold Rush Days kicks off Friday evening with Miner Street businesses staying open later for a “sip and shop” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by an outdoor concert in Tri-Counties Bank parking lot and a “speakeasy” at the Rex Club. 

The fun continues the next day with a number of events starting with a pancake breakfast at the Yreka Fire Department on Miner Street, live music beginning at 11 a.m. on the main stage, Third Street historic wagon tours, events for children and others like the watermelon eating contest, carousel rides, face-painting, stick-horse racing and more. All events are free. 

In this 2019 photo, a fall scene is seen along West Miner Street in Yreka's historic district.

Gold Rush Days, which has been on hiatus for two years due to COVID-19 protocols, is imagined as a nostalgic meander around the many aspects — large and small — of small-town living, remarked Hayden, recalling sockhops, sidewalk sales and movies at the Broadway Twin. 

“These events framed Yreka as a city full of pride and promise. Today, Gold Rush Days keeps some of that former excitement going,” said Hayden. 

Attendance for the event is expected about 1,500, and generally includes visitors from across the county and southern Oregon, and will feature performers and vendors from local areas, and  distances as far as Crescent City, Oregon and Arizona. Major sponsors of Gold Rush Days includes Friends of the Siskiyou County Museum, downtown Yreka merchants, the city of Yreka and Tri-Counties Bank.   

Yreka Gold Rush Days schedule

Friday: Gold Rush Nights

  • Scott & Sabrina Country Concert: Tri-Counties parking lot (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) 
  • Sip and Shop: Downtown shops open late (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • Speakeasy at The Rex Club

Saturday: Gold Rush Days

8 a.m.-11a.m.

  • Pancake breakfast — Yreka Fire Department 
  • Museum shuttle (10:30 a.m.)

11a.m. - 1 p.m.

  • Celtic Cats on the Main Stage (11 a.m.) 
  • Third Street Historic Wagon Tour (11 a.m.)
  • Museum shuttle (11:30 a.m.)
  • Museum shuttle (12:30 p.m.)
  • Jalapeno Eating Contest (12:15 p.m.)
  • Watermelon Eating Contest (12:30 p.m.)

1 p.m. - 3 p.m. 

  • Scott and Sabrina on the Main Stage (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) 
  • Third Street Historic Wagon Tour (12:30 p.m.)
  • Third Street Historic Wagon Tour (2 p.m.)

All day

  • Franco American Hotel Tours
  • Carousel Rides
  • Gold Panning
  • Kids Gold Rush at The Thoughtful Nest and Bella Arts
  • Stick Horse Races
  • Face Painting
  • Walking Magic (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
  • Amazing Balloon Animals (11 a.mm - 2 p.m.)