Magazine article Sunset

More Than 100 Years of Good Italian Fun

Magazine article Sunset

More Than 100 Years of Good Italian Fun

Article excerpt

In Gold Country, they really know how to put on a party

The Italian Benevolent Society of Amador County is the only club in California given the privilege of closing a state highway. Since 1882, the society has hosted its Italian Picnic and Parade on the first Sunday in June. And what a parade it is. The march down State Highway 49 and the picnic that follows are well worth a weekend trip, to say nothing of the All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti and Chicken Feed the night before - but more about that later.

The parade itself begins in Sutter Creek at 10:30 on June 2. Looking down State 49, you'll see raised rock sidewalks flanking the two-lane road, with Gold Country residents claiming spots along the parade route. A lucky few have seats on turn-of-the-century-style balconies, with bird's-eye views of the scene: giant colored balloons, trays of snow cones, and clowns bent on selling the necessary parade accoutrements - long horns, flags, water guns, cotton candy.

Most of the county residents who haven't staked out sideline positions seem to be involved in the parade - on a float, in a band, as a member of a marching Boy Scout, Girl Scout, or 4-H unit, riding high on county fire equipment, or dressed to the hilt on a horse. You can be part of the action yourself if you jump into your car and follow the pooper-scoopers behind the parade up the hill about 1 mile to the Italian picnic grounds.

After the parade's award ceremony, the society-sponsored noon picnic serves more than 1,000 people. Six dollars lets you savor pit-roasted beef, salads, and bread. Or you can buy various foods at booths sponsored by other local organizations. (Admission to the picnic grounds is free, but you can buy tickets for the picnic at the gate.)

The festivities actually begin at 4 on May 31, when the picnic grounds open in Sutter Creek. …

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