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Sacramento Gold Rush Days canceled due to drought

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The California drought has forced the cancellation of Sacramento's annual Gold Rush Days, typically held during the Labor Day weekend, city officials said Monday.

Organizers usually bring in nearly 200 tons of dirt to transform the Old Sacramento neighborhood into a scene from the 1850s featuring horses, wagons, street performances and a tent city.

But too much water would be needed to dampen the dirt and later clean it up, said Steve Hammond, president of the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau.

He said in a news release that it takes up to 3,000 gallons of water a day to keep the dirt damp enough to contain dust and up to 100,000 gallons to clean the streets when the event is over.

“Dirt-covered streets is clearly not an option during the continuing drought which impacts the event on multiple levels including the safety and well-being of the horses, riders and performers,” Hammond said.

The dry conditions also help create a fire hazard for cannon and weapons demonstrations, he said.

Officials explored alternatives that would have allowed the event to go on but could not find a good solution, Hammond said.

Educational events that were already planned for school groups, such as tours of area museums and the Old Sacramento area, will continue on the Friday before Labor Day.

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