AS CLOSE AS TIME TRAVEL GETS: We're sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you'll likely never trot into some dusty, gaslamp-lit town, inside a carriage or atop a speckled pony, waving a pick or sack of gold while shouting that you've struck it rich. Now, we don't know what you do on the weekends, or your hobbies, so this could be entirely incorrect on our part, an assumption. But living like it is 1850 again, around Sacramento, complete with the clothes and the music and the general rootin' tootin' vibe, is not an experience that's open to most people, regardless of how fascinated you are by that period and regardless of how many leather chaps and scuffed-up, river-water-washed boots you own. All that said, Old Sacramento delivers some ye olde delights to Gold Rush mavens each year, over Labor Day Weekend. They can't exactly forgo electricity, nor the modern cars you'll see here and there, nor other modern amenities that have found their way, over the years, into the capital city's historic district. The charming quarter can do several things, though, to recreate the era when California boomed like a big booming thing with gold seekers aplenty. We're talking Gold Rush Days here, and the weekend-long party waves its hat and raises its pick from Friday, Sept. 4 through Monday, Sept. 7.
THAT'S FOUR DAYS... of 1800s-style high jinks, from "(e)laborate daily parades" to "engaging melodramas" to "(m)ining camp theatrics." Costumed characters will be out in force along the streets of the old city, talking about matters of the wayback day, so possibly the Pony Express and favorite panning techniques and staking claims. Homemade sarsaparilla, barbecue, and other eats that may not be 100% authentic but pay tasty tribute to the era will be for sale. And watermelon- and pie-eating contests will ensue, to round out the end of the summer season. The cost to attend? Well, it isn't a gold nugget or even a few gold flakes. It's free, free, free, as free as the breeze rippling down the nearby Sacramento River. Whether you wear a pile of petticoats or not is your choice. It's bound to be toasty over Labor Day Weekend in Sacramento, though some homemade sarsaparilla should provide a quick cooldown.