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Gold Nugget Days proves strength of community

Many+vendors+sold+handmade+jewelry%2C+indoor+and+outdoor+decorations+and+clothing.+Photo+credit%3A+Rayanne+Painter
Many vendors sold handmade jewelry, indoor and outdoor decorations and clothing. Photo credit: Rayanne Painter

Paradise Gold Nugget Days and craft fair persisted into its 41st year on Saturday, despite the Camp Fire and displacement of residents.

In the years before the fire, Gold Nugget Days brought thousands into the small town of Paradise, California for what was an all-day celebration down the middle of Skyway and surrounding recreational areas. A long parade would line up down the street and most folks had a drink in hand as they would cheer, laugh and enjoy the festivities.

Things have changed since most of the town no longer has residence in the area. Paradise is in the process of rebuilding the main areas of Skyway, so long stretches of the street are actively under construction.

This year, the parade was a short procession. Many of the regular parade participants will relocate to the Pioneer Days in Chico because the construction of Skyway couldn’t handle large crowds.

Some questioned if there was even going to be Gold Nugget celebrations this year, and others questioned if it would feel the same as other years. According to a few craft fair vendors, the events were obviously scaled down, but still felt like home.

The craft fair was bustling but had the aura of a homely farmers market. Attendees chatted to vendors and hung out on the sidelines with each other, while children played on the play structure that centered the event. A food court was filled with Butte County eats, where families sat nearby, picnicking.

In an intimate moment, two friends embraced within the walkway, exclaiming that they hadn’t seen each other since November.

Many vendors were crafts, as expected, ranging from handmade jewelry to clothing with the words “Paradise Strong” or “thank you firefighters.” A company called Paradise Roots was tabling with a mission to replace all the trees lost in the Camp Fire. For every clothing item sold, they will plant two trees in the affected areas.

Other events included in the Gold Nugget Days were a Donkey Derby, entertainment and speakers in the community park and the evening closing with a hoedown.

Both the activities and the fair were opportunities for the Paradise community to reconvene after tragedy. Similar traditions will continue at the Pioneer Day Parade in Chico on this Sunday.

Rayanne Painter can be reached at [email protected] or @rayphenomenon on Twitter.

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