Quincy's Charming Groundhog Fever Festival

Can't make it to Pennsylvania in February? Plumas County is a bit closer.

THE TOWN OF PUNXSUTAWNEY, in Pennsylvania, and specifically the hamlet of Gobbler's Knob is a long, long way from California, and that's pretty much any point in California, even though our state is a big one. You can put the distance at well over 2,000 miles, which means it would take some time to reach the The Keystone State from our current stomping grounds, and even more time if, say, you were a groundhog. (We're making assumptions that groundhogs move at an easier pace than humans, for the most part, but, again, those are only assumptions). But it is in that verdant area of Pennsylvania that one of our country's great wintertime larks occurs, and it involves a handsome groundhog by the name of Punxsutawney Phil predicting the end or continuation of winter according to what his shadow tells him. If Phil can't see his shadow, get ready for flowers to pop, if he can, winter brrrrs on. But how to get into the spirit of this sweet tradition here in the Golden State, which is not without its merits nor its marmots (which Phil is)? You can make for beautiful Quincy, in Plumas County, for the...

GROUNDHOG FEVER FESTIVAL, which'll live it up, small town-style, on Saturday, Feb. 3 at the courthouse. You may even see Chuck Wood, "Groundhog Extraordinaire," at the party, but if not, there will be a mustache contest, a chili cook-off, brews, wines, and more summery to-dos and eats in the middle of winter. As for Mr. Wood? He's of the fluffy stuffed variety, it's true, but a photo with the celebrated stuffed g'hog might make all of your furry-loving friends jealous. As for real-life beasties predicting winter's end on this side of the country? There's Mojave Maxine, in Palm Desert, the desert tortoise who exits her burrow when spring is on the way (usually a week or so, give or take, after Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual guess). As for Plumas County, where Quincy is so quaintly situated? It's one of the Golden State's most glorious fall foliage spots, but loving upon its villages, natural splendor, and, yes, groundhoggy bashes come winter, feels like a funky 'n furry road trip in the making.

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