California State Parks and Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park (SHP) are proud to present a vibrant, educational and fun three-day event — “Traders’ Faire – California’s First Mall” — on Friday, April 7 through Sunday, April 9. Offered just once a year, this lively and highly anticipated interpretive event offers unique insights into the early days of the Fort when it served as a central and critically important trading post. Fort visitors will be delighted to see the recently completed restoration of the historic walls, gates and blacksmith shop plus have the opportunity to step back in time to experience what California’s first shopping mall was like in the 1840s.
While it is common knowledge that Sutter’s Fort marked the beginning of Sacramento, few people understand how the Fort served as a thriving commercial center in the early days of the Gold Rush. In fact, it was the only trading center on the way to the gold fields and literally thousands of gold miners passed through the Fort to purchase needed supplies from a variety of vendors hawking a variety of goods. Thus, Sutter’s Fort essentially became California’s first shopping mall. A score of merchants operated at the Fort, a sampling of which included Brannan and Co. general store; Hensley, Reading and Co. hardware store; Priest, Lee and Co. mining equipment; Peter Burnett, lawyer and real estate firm; Joseph Wadleigh, tinsmith and even a newspaper known as the Placer Times.
During the bustling Traders’ Faire three-day event and amid a lively shopping atmosphere, Fort visitors can watch artisans create pioneer goods for sale such as clothing, housewares, toys, beads, and knives. Guests will also have the opportunity to make their own crafts, haggle with traders, hammer square nail and enjoy demonstrations of black powder weapons periodically throughout the day. In addition to the interactive opportunities, guests can also shop for artisan made hand-crafted items that make for treasured keepsakes, gifts and collectibles.