Rain doesn’t dampen spirits at Gold Hill Founders Day

Published 12:10 am Sunday, September 27, 2015

By Hugh Fisher


GOLD HILL – The gray skies and rain didn’t keep fans away from Gold Hill’s annual Founders Day celebration.

After the morning’s parade down St. Stephens Church Road, live music, food and events went on in the historic mining village in spite of the wet weather.

“This tells me that there are so many people who look forward to festivals like this,” said Vivian Hopkins, one of the organizers of the event. “It’s a huge community event and people support it. It’s heartwarming.”

Founders Day celebrates the legacy of Gold Hill, which grew as quickly as any town in the California gold rush after the precious metal was discovered here in 1824.

For Founders Day, the historic mining village’s shops and attractions grew to include arts and crafts vendors, while a variety of bands took the stage to liven up the day with bluegrass music.

Some sat in lawn chairs and under trees, sheltered under ponchos or umbrellas, to enjoy the music.

However, Kay Chaney, of Concord, wasn’t about to stay still. She joined several people under the roof at the side of the stage as Trap Hill Express played. While they watched the band, Chaney started dancing.

“You make lemonade out of lemons, and you’ve got to dance, even in the rain!” Chaney said.

No matter the weather, Chaney said, she still would come to Founders Day. “It’s good people and good music. It’s what America is all about,” she said.

Randall Smith said he’s been a Gold Hill resident for as 25 years and is a regular at events in the local park, especially the bluegrass concerts. “The people who aren’t here are missing out,” Smith said.

Community organizations were also represented. The Gold Hill Lions Club brought in a mobile office to provide free vision and hearing tests, while the Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Dept. sold barbecue, Brunswick stew and drinks.

Later in the day, a Civil War skirmish reenactment was set to take place, with reenactors from the 28th North Carolina and the 63rd Regiment N.C. Troops.

As smoke rose from the historical encampment, musicians gathered inside the barn nearby for an impromptu bluegrass jam session.

“We’ve been together as a band as of, oh, about five minutes ago,” said Danny Bowers, who then helped four friends launch into a song while Bowers played the banjo.

Willie Jones, of China Grove, came out to Founders Day with his nephews. “I was surprised by how many people were here today,” Jones said, as his nephews went off to look for “gold” nuggets hidden around the site by the Historic Gold Hill Foundation.

The nuggets and coins could be traded in for prizes at the foundation’s tent.

Jones said it was great to see families coming out to enjoy themselves at the historic park.

A gospel concert scheduled for this morning has been canceled due to technical difficulties, Hopkins said.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.