On Saturday, September 8, 2018, from 11 am-4:30 pm, the Friends of North Bloomfield & Malakoff Diggins and California State Parks jointly commemorated the French heritage of the park in a delightful small-town festival.
Attractions included French-themed music performed by Nevada County favorites Beaucoup Chapeaux, a reprise of the enchanting original marionette play, “How Malakoff Got its Name” by the Theatre of AWE, a guided tour of North Bloomfield’s French heritage, including the historic cemetery, locally sourced picnic-style food, beer, and wine, a raffle with a grand prize of a week’s stay in a small villa on the French Riviera (Villa La Grisette, in Vence, donated by Dr. Claudine Chalmers).
Research has revealed that the French influence at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park was widespread. Entrepreneurs designed massive water systems and hydraulic ventures, opened hotels and businesses, and planted gardens. They dominated the local scene at the Park for 15 years, laying the groundwork to the nation’s biggest hydraulic operation of the day, the North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company, which was commonly called the French Company for years. The Malakoff Mine became so large that it was the defendant in the famous federal lawsuit that handed down the Sawyer Decision (1884), the renowned injunction against the laissez-faire practice of polluting waterways.
Malakoff’s French Connection II Festival commemorated those French and French-Canadian pioneers responsible for much of the early technological and cultural developments at the Park in a festive, lively gathering open to the public.