Old Sacramento's Gold Rush Days canceled because of drought

Old Sacramento's Gold Rush Days festivities canceled because of drought conditions

Gold Rush Days festivities in Old Sacramento have been canceled because of the state's continued drought, officials said Monday.

The event, which traditionally takes place over Labor Day weekend, requires too much water, said Steve Hammond, president and chief executive of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Each year, nearly 200 tons of dirt is used to help turn the city into a scene out of the 1850s. The dirt performs a functional — as well as visual — role, providing a safe foundation for horses, wagons and performances in the streets.

But it takes up to 3,000 gallons a day to keep the dirt damp, and up to 100,000 gallons of water to clean up after the event, according to the bureau.

“The volume of water necessary to return Old Sacramento to its pre-event condition is beyond significant,” Hammond wrote in a statement. “Dirt-covered streets is clearly not an option during the continuing drought which impacts the event on multiple levels including the safety and well-being of the horses, riders and performers."

Dry conditions could also heighten the danger of cannon and weaponry demonstrations during the event, officials said.

“It is our sincere hope that drought conditions will ease so we can resume this signature heritage celebration next year and make it bigger and better than ever,” Hammond wrote.

A Twitter user suggested putting on Gold Rush Days without the dirt, but the bureau said dirt is necessary for safety reasons, and that the event is unfeasible without it.

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