Mad River Union
BLUE LAKE – If you don’t have fun in Blue Lake on Sunday, July 14, you are either a historical figure or long gone.
But in Blue Lake even the historical figures have fun, dressing up as the bookkeepers for the Arcata Mad River Railroad. These women, Annie Carroll and Mary Buckley, were immortalized for their initials as well as for their charm. Folks called the railroad the A&M, for Arcata & Mad River, but it was more popularly known as the Annie & Mary.
Since 1967, Blue Lake has been celebrating that history with the Annie & Mary Day.
It’s an all-day free affair, featuring a parade, a car show, pony rides, a bocce ball tournament, music in Perigot Park, crafts booths and food. So much food. And adult beverages. So many adult beverages.
The Blue Lake Chamber of Commerce goes all out, joined by other civic minded groups such as the Old Crows, the Blue Lake Museum, the Mad River Grange, the Blue Lake Volunteer Fire Department, the Blue Lake Post Office, Dell’Arte and the Humboldt Folk Life Society.
In Blue Lake, it doesn’t just take a village. It takes the whole town.
The Grange breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. is a great way to fuel up for the day. Or wander over to The Logger Bar for a Bloody Mary.
The fun starts with the parade at 11 a.m. featuring this year’s grand marshals, Ingrid Kosek and Kevin Fischer of The Friends of the Annie & Mary Rail Trail. They are being honored for years of effort to turn old railroad tracks into a trail for everyone’s delight.
“We started meeting 22 years ago when they pulled the tracks out,” Kosek said. Since then it has been a huge effort to write grants, raise funds, get permissions, and work with all kinds of government entities to make a patchwork quilt. Some pieces of trail completed here, other pieces there, until it can all be stitched together into a complete and lovely trail.
Kosek and her husband Fischer have been persistent and energetic proponents. They’ll lead the parade, maybe with their bicycles, maybe in costumes, who knows. “Someday,” Kosek said, “we’ll be able to hike from the Logger Bar to San Francisco.”
The parade is filled with the wacky and the sweet: Shriner clowns in their little cars, kids on ponies, The Ladies of the Lake Drinking Society, and Dell’Arte thespians in wild costumes.
After the parade, check out the Bill Nessler classic cars, the pony rides, the gymkhana event, and other children’s activities.
Visit the Blue Lake Museum to see their summer exhibits and try some delicious pizza in the museum parking lot from Pizza Gago. “There are people in Blue Lake who have never been inside the museum,” Marvin Samuels said. Samuels is the president of the Chamber of Commerce and source of information of all things Blue Lake. The museum is housed in, wait for it, the original depot for the A&M Railroad.
The crafts booths are always filled with treasures not to be resisted.
This year the Blue Lake Post Office will have a booth amongst the crafters. Local artist Elaine Benjamin has designed a special postmark cancellation featuring Annie and Mary and where wavy lines usually cancel the postage, railroad tracks are featured instead.
Blue Lake Postmaster Gayle Thrapp will be there to sell you some of those gorgeous Transcontinental Railroad 150th Anniversary stamps and Benjamin will have postcards and notecards with historical views of Blue Lake for sale. Bring your address book and write to all your friends and get the mail postmarked right there at the booth. Snail mail isn’t just a thing of the past. With Benjamin’s artwork, your letters will be keepsakes to be cherished.
“I’ve never done this before,: Thrapp said. “I’m very excited.” It took lots of work and time to get everything officially approved by the United States Post Office, so don’t miss your chance to participate.
When your correspondence is done, wander over to the music in Perigot Park to listen to The Tidepool
High Divers (at noon), Tyger Byle (1 p.m.), That Buckin’ String Band (2 p.m.), The Bayou Swamis (3 p.m.), and Dead On (4 p.m.) The lawn in the park is soft enough to dance barefoot and The Humboldt Folklife Society has brought some totally danceable bands. The fire department will be selling their barbecue and La Barca food truck and Celebration tamales will also tempt your appetite. Combine those with the array of adult beverages on sale by the Old Crows, the Friends of the Annie & Mary Rail Trail, and Jewell Distillery.
Look for the spirits of Annie and Mary waving you on to a great time.