An inaugural event celebrating California Mormon History Day was held May 21 at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, California.
The event was sponsored by the California Pioneer Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with Sacramento Public Affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A parade of horses, wagons and pioneer reenactors represented historic figures of the era, including the Mormon Battalion. Former Mormon Battalion soldiers were instrumental in discovering gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma that sparked the 1849 Gold Rush.
Robin Cook, director of the Third District Agricultural Association, presented a resolution from five members of the California Legislature that explains the importance of the contributions made by the Mormon pioneers.
The resolution recognized May 21, 2016, as California Mormon History Day.
Meteorologist Dirk Verdoorn, of Sacramento’s KCRA-TV, served as master of ceremonies.
Nearly 4,000 people attended the event. Visitors participated in interactive booths with pioneer games and crafts and watched performances throughout the day.
Entertainers wowed the audience as they performed popular songs, dances and skits of the era.
The stage entertainment was a highlight throughout the day and included an Old West version of Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending.
Mormons played a significant role in the independence of California.
They were among the first settlers of San Bernardino and Yerba Buena, later named San Francisco, and founded Mormon Island where they discovered gold. It became one of the richest areas of the Gold Rush.
Mormons built and completed Fort Moore and raised the first U.S. flag over Los Angeles on July 4, 1847.
California LDS Living History Mission President Dennis Holland (left), one of the event organizers, with Mormon Battalion reenactor Bubba Blair.
Holland said that looking at what pioneer ancestors have done can enhance people’s pride in their past. It can suggest ways to build on and improve our own lives and civilization.
“We don’t want our youth growing up without a proper appreciation of the heritage they have been given and … the sacrifice made by others for them,” Holland said.