What will you choose? Axe tossing or grape stomping?
Venture to the historic Gold Rush towns of West Point and Murphys on the first Saturday in October to celebrate the long-running Lumberjack Day and the famed Calaveras Grape Stomp. Sure, these events are on opposite sides of Calaveras County, but planned just right, and you could check out both…
Hit the road and head to Calaveras County’s scenic countryside en route to your first stop: West Point, which was established in 1854 as a mining supply camp and still has much of that Gold Rush era charm. Here you’ll find Lumberjack Day, where the whole family can experience old-fashioned country fun (like grandpa used to talk about). Highlights of this annual event, celebrating Calaveras County’s lumber industry, include a parade (full of local color and humor), soap box derby, The Lawn Chair Brigade (performing now for over a decade), axe throwing contest, gentleman’s sawing contest, and fireman’s BBQ. Plan to get to Lumberjack Day early for the soap box derby kicks which kicks off at 8:30 am. The logging show and axe throwing contest begins at 1 pm and runs throughout the afternoon.
Next up: Murphys. Corkscrews and costumes in Calaveras Wine Country are next on the agenda at the Calaveras Grape Stomp which runs in the Murphys Community Park, just off Main Street, from 10 am to 5 pm, along with a Street Faire on Murphys Historic Main Street. This quirky event features the destruction and liquefaction of two tons of grapes put on display for all to see. If you have never stomped in the stomp, it’s a must (registration details here). People come from around the nation to get their feet juicy in this wild competition (oh, and costumes are a must for participants!).
More of a spectator? Secure a spot in the park and a glass of wine to watch more than 25 teams of two—a “stomper” and a “mucker” (the one collecting the juice)—pulverize and smoosh those unsuspecting grapes in barrels that are positioned on a stage. The goal of the stomper and mucker is to get as much juice from the fruit while working against the clock. Collections are then measured and weighed by a panel of expert judges and prizes are awarded in various categories such as best costume, best team name, and overall best stompers.
But the festivities don’t stop there. In between stomping heats, and throughout the day, you can take a stroll around historic Main Street and enjoy the energetic Gold Rush Street Fair, boutique shops, great restaurants and live entertainment. Murphys is home to many award winning wineries and their tasting rooms (more than 20) are right there, just a few steps away from each other.
So if you are looking for the ultimate day trip this fall head to Calaveras County on the first Saturday in October for one day, two fun events.
For more information about the Lumberjack Day visit: West Point Lumberjack Day’s Facebook page
For more information about the Calaveras Grape Stomp visit: http://calaverasgrapestomp.com/
Photo: Grape Stomp – Maria Camillo
Photos: Lumberjack Day – lumberjackday.com