Problems that threatened to derail this year’s Railroad Days celebration have been overcome, and a scaled-down event is planned for Aug. 17-19.
“It’s good news,” City Manager Leslie Tigan told the city council during a meeting earlier this month.
Tigan said that the event would be held in the city park Saturday, Aug. 18, but since there was already a concert scheduled for Friday evening and the Willie Tate Memorial Run set for Sunday, festivities would span three days.
A lack of volunteers and funds jeopardized the event, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, but a group of dedicated citizens persevered.
One of the individuals is a relative newcomer to the area — Patricia Ryan. She and her husband became full-time residents last November, though they had been living here part-time while building their home in Gold Mountain.
During those months they came to know many local residents including Portola Mayor Juliana Mark and her husband, Randy. That’s how Ryan learned about Railroad Days.
“It seemed like such a shame to let the 30th anniversary go by without something,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t just about the loss of money for local businesses, but it would be a loss of the sense of community that it brought to the area.”
So she and others concerned about the future of Railroad Days began meeting. The first real meeting was held at Lena’s Cantina.
“Lena said, ‘We are not letting this pass by,’” Ryan recalled. The group meets Monday afternoons at various locations.
Since the prior Railroad Days Association had failed to submit paperwork to maintain its non-profit status or submit state-required tax returns, the group decided to begin anew, not even retaining the previous association’s mailing address.
“We wanted a clean slate,” Ryan said. And that’s what the group received, because except for the dates, which had been set on the city calendar, the association had not begun any planning for this year’s event.
The new Railroad Days Committee’s most immediate need was a financial sponsor. “We needed someone to be our checkbook holder,” Ryan said. In stepped the Graeagle Lions and the planning got underway in earnest.
With the theme “Party in the Park,” the event will kick off Friday night with a barbecue and concert organized by the Feather River Community Partnership and its Concert in the Park summer series.
The party will continue the next day with music, craft vendors, a car show, and other activities including the Portola parade and the Portola Preschool Rubber Duck Drop.
The Willie Tate Memorial Run and Walk will get underway Sunday morning and event organizers plan to announce more activities as they are confirmed.
Ryan said that a group of about 15, which includes Bill Powers, Pat Bridge, Rachael Brubaker and Terry Swofford, would continue to meet on a weekly basis to keep the event on track.
To find out more about Railroad Days, go to portolarailroaddays.com.
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