49er Ball

Ballgoers can vote for a favorite unsavory character: outlaw Alex “Jose Joe” Perez, lush Jeff “Joy Juice” Russell, gunslinger Max “the Kid” Martin, Angel May “the Mistress” Wise, Annessa “the Muscle” Melnick, or Patty “the Madam” Krause.

Can-can dancers, outlaws and a raucous bar fight mark the return of the infamous ’49er Ball.

Long heralded as the oldest party in Jackson and purported to date back to 1896, last year was the first year in recent memory the historic ball did not take place. Sponsored for decades by the Lions Club, the ball is being resurrected in true theatrical fashion by Riot Act Inc., which will revive the infamous party Saturday evening.

Back in the wild days of the early West the ball was an excuse to dress up, come to town for a night of dancing and gambling and maybe even stir up a little love or trouble. Keeping the brassy spirit of the golden days alive, Riot Act is throwing in a few theatrical twists to go along with a night of gambling and dancing.

Where else can you find a love story, a bar fight and a cast of outlaws who play out their worst sins? Mystic Magnifico, who is predicted to make a cameo appearance, might even tell your fortune.

“It’s an opportunity to relive old historic Jackson and get a taste of what life here used to be like,” said Riot Act member Cynthia Huyffer, who will appear in some of the performances Saturday night.

Adding to the fun of the evening, attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite unsavory character from a court of “homecoming royalty” in advance of Saturday night, said Macey Mott, founding member and artistic director of the alternative theater group. To do so visit

For $1 per vote people can pick their favorite characters, from the ruthless outlaw Alex “Jose Joe” Perez; the resident lush, Jeff “Joy Juice” Russell; the gun-slinging prodigy, Max “the Kid” Martin; the beautiful Angel May “the Mistress” Wise; Annessa “the Muscle” Melnick; or the charming Patty “the Madam” Krause.

Winners will be announced Saturday night between gunfights and trysts.

Along with swing dance lessons, Molly Thorn and the Cadillacs will provide live music, and patrons are invited to gamble for donations.

It’s the perfect fundraiser to support the group, according to Huyffer, who on top of appreciating the opportunity to throw on costumes for a good cause, appreciates the history and tradition and being able to keep the historic party alive.

“It’s a fun community event for a great cause,” she said. “People can dress up in their best Western wear and come out and have a good time.”

Mott, who will make an appearance with the can-can dancers Saturday night, reiterated the fun-loving spirit and history behind the ball, which gave locals a chance to pretend to be part of the colorful world of the early West.

“We’ve been planning it for about six months at this point,” she said.

Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Tickets purchased in support of a royalty contestant should be done so under that person’s name. For information contact riotactinc@earthlink.net. 

Contact Jen Kocher via 732-7062, entertainment@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGscene.

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