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.
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.
The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Fun for the whole family
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.
Here, 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.
The Mark Twain Wild West Fest’s on-stage entertainment features cowboy music, and Mark Twain storytelling. With multiple stages and roaming 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.
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.
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. Contact (event sponsor) Angels Camp Business Association to learn more.
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: Essentials
The Mark Twain Wild West Fest: Event Map
This map shows the event layout for 2018. Be sure to check back the weekend of the event for details on 2019’s Mark Twain Wild West Fest layout and bring the kids to the Gold Rush Village next to the Calaveras Visitors Center, for lots of great kids activities including candle dipping, petting zoo, face painting, rope tying, branding and more.