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VIRGINIA CITY — The summer of 2013 is filled with events celebrating the 150th anniversary of finding gold in Alder Gulch and the cultural heritage of Virginia City.

Festivities begin Memorial Day weekend, with events planned through Labor Day.

On May 26, 1863, at around 4 p.m., a trail-weary party of six men decided to make camp beside a mountain stream whose course they had been following since early morning. After having left the gold camp of Bannack in early February, they had a series of difficult adventures and were grateful to be nearing home.

Four of the party went to prospect up the creek before dinner, and two stayed behind to picket the horses and do camp duty, and ended up prospecting a piece of exposed bedrock. What they found would prove to be one of the richest gold deposits in North America, and would be one of the biggest events in the history of Montana.

The full history and schedule of activities may be found at www.virginiacity.com.

Festivities begin May 24 at 5:30 p.m. with the Elling House in Virginia City hosting a signing of the 150th commemorative poster by the winner Kathleen Arvila-Scott of Butte.

Following the reception, the Virginia City Preservation Alliance will present its book “Nuggets in Time” at 7 p.m. This is a limited-edition book and available to the public for the first time at this event. All proceeds will go to the VCPA. Refreshments will be served.

On May 25, the annual Spring Horseback Poker ride begins with registration at the Bale of Hay Saloon from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

The Virginia City Season Opening Parade, starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, will celebrate the year of 1863. All entries must be nonmotorized, and participants are encouraged to dress in period clothing. There are prizes for the top three entries and the first 50 children who participate will receive train tickets. In the spirit of the 1863 gold rush, gold coin candy will be distributed.

On May 26 at 2 p.m. at Elks Park, there will be a historical performance of the discovery of gold in Alder Gulch by the Nevada City Living History performers.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.