The Mark Twain Wild West Fest is a free, full day of entertainment with historical re-enactors, live music and storytelling, and fun, family-friendly activities, celebrating Angels Camp's connection to Mark Twain. Come on out and join the festivities on the Saturday of the third weekend in October from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest celebrates Angels Camp’s essential connection to Mark Twain and California’s historic Gold Rush in a full day of fun for the entire family in picturesque, historic downtown with its wild west architecture.

Gold Rush Day Mark Twain Wild West Fest

Did you know that Mark Twain made his way here to Angels Camp in 1865 and overheard a tall tale being recounted at a saloon inspiring his first successful short story? “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras took little-known Samuel Clemens and made him a household name as Mark Twain. And it gave Calaveras County an excuse to celebrate frog jumping for the rest of time – and to claim Mark Twain as an adopted son.

Downtown Angels Camp | The Mark Twain Wild West Fest | Lisa Boulton

Historic Angels Camp is the perfect, picturesque location for this event

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Fun for the whole family

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Pie Eating Contest

Come in costume!

In this celebration of life on the wild frontier, we take the essential ingredients of Angels Camp’s charming, historic downtown, which looks just as it did during Samuel Clemens’ time, add an outstanding Mark Twain re-enactor telling tall tales, sprinkle in a parade, some old west style bands, yummy food and drinks, and some old time family entertainment in the Gold Rush Village kids’ zone and you’ve got a fun-filled day for all.

ere, the kids can try Wild West games, enjoy costume contests, historic treats, and a petting zoo. In previous years there has been everything ranging from pie eating contests to a frog toss game, face painting, an old west carriage, a gold mining rock crusher, strolling singers, a branding station and Henry Angell’s Trading Post – a tent trading post just like the one that the Angels Camp founder started in 1849.

Main Street is filled with craft and food booths, beer and wine, street entertainment. Previous years have included jugglers and magicians, cowboy shootouts, sassy saloon girls and a Mark Twain trivia scavenger hunt in which all participants win prizes. Previous attractions have included blacksmithing, candle-making, corn husks, spinning, a Miwuk village and Harmony Ranch horse roping and other horse related activities.

With a new line up every year, this truly memorable, fun and entertaining event that the whole family can enjoy is packed full of history, charm, and authentic Americana.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture all of the picturesque moments and if you upload them to social media, use the hashtag #MarkTwainWildWestFest for a chance to be featured on our Facebook or Instagram pages.

Mark Twain Wild West Fest by Jan Hovey

Henry Angell & Mark Twain | Jan Hovey

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest’s on-stage entertainment features cowboy music, and Mark Twain storytelling. With three stages and acts ranging from Americana and country music to spoken word, cowboy poetry and comedy. You’ll even get to hear the winners of a Mark Twain inspired kids’ Liar’s Contest.

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Come in Costume!

For a chance to win fun prizes, be sure to come in costume and truly feel like a part of the old west. Past years’ costumes included Wild West, Western, Gold Rush, Edwardian, Victorian, Gothic and even Steampunk attire of the era. Costume contests will be held throughout the day.

Mark Twain Wild West Fest

Come in costume!

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Entertainment

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest

Pat Kaunert as Mark Twain telling tall tales on one of the stages

Check out this lineup of great entertainment for the 3 stages at this engaging festival:

  • The Sierra Mountain Band, who have performed everywhere from Branson to Angels Camp, will deliver a mix of country and western favorites, high-energy bluegrass, soulful mountain ballads, cowboy classics and toe-tapping fiddle and banjo tunes.
  • The Old West Trio, celebrating over 20 years of performing Western-themed music from classic Sons of the Pioneers and Gene Autry tunes to contemporary Americana masterpieces, are the recipients of the 2011 Western Duo/Group of the Year and a nominee for 2014 Western Duo/Group of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists.
  • Sourdough Slim, the Last of the Vaudeville Cowboys, is a stage veteran from The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to The Lincoln Center’s Roots of American Music Festival and the Carnegie Hall Folk Festival. Cowboy Magazine calls Sourdough Slim, “An accordion playing, yodeling, tongue-in-cheek, cowboy-dressed entertainer deluxe.”
  • Ernie Sites, all the way from Idaho, is a guitar strumming, singer/songwriter and performing western cowboy poet; a trick roper, bull rider, rodeo clown, bareback rider, and roper extraordinaire. Western author, Corinne J. Brown, dubbed Ernie “the urban cowboy troubadour.”
  • The Black Irish Band, who last year released their 25th CD, “Give us All Yer Whiskey (Songs of Hard-rock miners & Hard-luck sailors),” hail from the historic Gold Rush Country of America. For over 25-years, they have combined influences of Celtic, Spanish, and Italian delivering an incomparably exciting, original, progressive, and upbeat acoustic folk music sound that is, not only, as timeless as the rugged landscape of the west, but captures the spirit of the immigrants of this land; the men and women who tamed the Wild West.
Live Music - The Mark Twain Wild West Fest | Lisa Boulton

Sourdough Slim performing on one of the stages

Other featured performers include magicians, comedians, jugglers; gun-slinging cowboys and outlaws and shoot-out reenactments, as well as villains and damsels in distress; gold miners, their encampment and gold panning demonstrations; a flapjack breakfast; over 80 street vendors of all descriptions including arts and crafts, and a custom car show.

Mark Twain Gold Nuggets

The 2017 Mark Twain Gold Nuggets

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Gold Nuggets Raffle

The icing on the cake might be the annual Mark Twain Wild West Fest Nuggets of Gold raffle. This year, six real, solid gold nuggets worth $5,400 in total, will be raffled off to one lucky winner. Choose to take the nuggets or $3,000 in cash.The winning ticket will be drawn at 4:00 pm on the day of the Mark Twain Wild West Fest. Second prize is a getaway to Virginia City, Nevada. Winners need not be present to win. Enter the Nuggets of Gold raffle (or learn more) here.

Even if you’re not entering the raffle yourself, it’s quite a show! Armed mountain men (pictured below) will lead a procession down Main Street to Firefall Jewelers, where the antique safe will be ceremonially unlocked, and the nuggets retrieved. The mountain men will transfer the nuggets to a locked safety box and return to the north end of town, to the stage finale where the winning raffle ticket will be drawn.

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest

Mountain Men carry the Mark Twain Gold Nuggets

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Essentials

DATE: Third Saturday in October (October 20, 2018) | HOURS: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm | COST: Free | Event takes place rain or shine | PHONE: 1-209-736-1333 | ONLINE: Website |  Facebook page | Twitter page

The Mark Twain Wild West Fest

Other Top October Events in Calaveras

Check out our other most popular October events: Calaveras Grape Stomp & Street Faire | Lumberjack Day | Calaveras Oktoberfest

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