Downieville Independence Day Celebration
Photo © Lee Adams
With a history dating to the early 1850s, Downieville continues its annual Independence Day celebrations to this day. Held every July 4th (regardless of the day of the week), the celebration starts with a parade on Main Street that begins with the noon whistle (actually a siren on the 1896 bell tower). Come early for good seating and to get into town in time as Highway 49 is closed in both directions while the parade is underway. The state highway shares a piece of Main Street.
It was after a particularly rambunctious July 4th celebration in 1851 that culminated in the stabbing of miner Frank Canon and the July 5th lynching of a woman known only to history as "Juanita" the following day. While the lynching of men occurred on occasion throughout gold rush California, the lynching of Juanita remains the only time in California history that a woman was lynched within the state and was a dark day for this community. Downieville celebrations have been far more sober and fun ever since!
Following the parade, foot races on Main Street commencing at 2pm, with races beginning with those who can barely walk ... those up to 2 years old. They continue by age group with winners rewarded with ribbons and cash prizes of a dollar for first, fifty cents for second, and a quarter for third, as well as a mention in the following edition of Downieville's Weekly newspaper, the Mountain Messenger.
Following the foot races, a community tug of war begins. Also by age group, this event ends with a locals versus 'flatlanders' tug, an event that either boosts or deflates the pride of this mountain community upon its finale.
Country line dancing on Main Street begins at 6 PM, followed by a dance with live music under the stars on Main Street beginning at 9pm and continuing at least til midnight.
Ages Festival is Appropriate For: All ages
All streets and sidewalks are ADA accessible.
Friendly dogs welcome. Due to the size of the crowd, leashes are appreciated.