This year’s Santa-Cali-Gon Days festival will include a brief history lesson.
On Aug. 29, the mayors of four cities closely tied to the history of the trails – Independence, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Placerville, California; and Oregon City, Oregon – will hold a virtual meeting. Visitors to the festival will be able to watch it on large screens on the north side of the Truman Courthouse. That’s on the Square, where the festival takes place every Labor Day weekend.
“The whole panorama of American expansion played out right here,” said Aaron Mahr, the National Park’s Service’s superintendent of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails. He will be on hand – either in Independence or virtually – to make brief remarks, as will the mayors, including Eileen Weir of Independence. It will be on YouTube and live on Google Plus.
“This should be exciting,” said Ron Kroeger, who is organizing the event for the Independence Chamber of Commerce.
The event is set for 8:30 on the Friday that the festival opens. The festival runs through Labor Day Monday.
The chamber, which runs Santa-Cali-Gon, has been looking to get back to the festival’s roots, including more attention on the trails themselves, all of which started or passed through Independence.
The city was a major jumping-off point for pioneers headed west, mostly in the 1840s and ’50s. Local merchants made good money selling them wagons, oxen, mules and the supplies needed for months on the trail.