Events and Culture

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Clovis and the Central Valley have become one of California’s most popular inland destinations. Mother Nature has been exceedingly benevolent to Clovis in terms of both weather and scenery. But its citizens have also added their hard work, creativity and regard for the past to the mix, making the area a popular place to visit.

“Tourists and locals alike swarm to Clovis to participate in and attend the world-class events put on in Fresno County, California’s year-round playground. From sporting events such as the North American Pole Vault Championships, Two Cities Marathon, USA Track & Field, CIF Swimming and Diving and ASA Softball, to the Clovis Children’s Electric Parade, BIG Hat Days, ClovisFest with hot air balloons and the new International Village, the annual Clovis Rodeo, the Organic Stone Fruit Jubilee and the self-guided Blossom and Fruit Trail,” said Layla Forstedt, president/CEO of the Fresno/Clovis Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“Clovis Unified School District also has world-class facilities that provide us the opportunity to bid on large regional and national championships that have a huge impact on the local economy,” Forstedt added.

“Clovis has not only become an event capital in the Central Valley, it has become a great tourist spot for people from all over the world,” she stated. ›

The National Parks

Yosemite National Park, which is located approximately 90 minutes away from Clovis by car because of the winding roads, is best known for its waterfalls. But its nearly 1,200 square miles also includes ancient giant sequoias, deep valleys, majestic meadows and some of the best scenery in the world. It offers several lodges, campgrounds, snack bars and restaurants within the park.

Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park are located much closer to Clovis and are adjacent to each other in the central part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Kings Canyon features canyon walls that rise almost 3,300 feet on each side with sheer granite cliffs and beautiful waterfalls. The scenery is truly spectacular. Within the park there are plentiful camping facilities, lodges, restaurants and stables.

Sequoia boasts several groves of the giant California redwood trees (some of which have been hollowed by ancient forest fires), as well as the 8,200-foot summits of the first Sierra peaks. Park facilities include camp grounds, a few lodges, a snack bar and a store.

n China Peak

This is the place to ski and snowboard during the winter and, during the summer, to enjoy cooler temperatures than in the valley. You can bicycle, play disc golf and attack the Vertical Challenge Rock Wall at this 7,000-foot-high mountain resort during the warm months. The Inn at China Peak offers great lodging and a popular restaurant.

n Old Town Clovis

This meticulous renovation of the community that Marcus Pollasky pioneered in 1891 includes cobblestone intersections, old-fashioned street lamps and picturesque store fronts. Old Town Clovis boasts a small-town western atmosphere with the richness of the past and today’s important amenities. Eclectic shopping abounds along with beautifully maintained streets, public art, historic buildings, fine dining, comfortable cafes, boutiques, gift shops and antique stores.

This is also home to the Big Dry Creek Historical Society Museum where visitors can learn more about the rich history of the area, including details of the 1925 robbery of the First National Bank of Clovis.

Old Town Clovis is also a great jumping off point for numerous motor/bicycle nature trails from which you will see rushing rivers, historic sites, working farms and towering redwoods.

n Casinos

The casinos in Clovis and the surrounding area provide a fun way for adult visitors to spend their evenings and other time away from the weather. There are four close by including Table Mountain, Chukchansi, the Clovis 500 Club and Club One.

April is Western Heritage month in Clovis with a wide variety of events from the first weekend to the last.

n BIG Hat Days

The Table Mountain Casino BIG Hat Days, a Clovis Chamber event, starts the month out with the largest two day celebration in Central California, second only to the Big Fresno Fair in attendance. Over 140,000 visitors travel to Old Town Clovis to enjoy the free festival that covers over 15 blocks.

Thousands of vendors from across the country vie for the 400 craft and commercial business booths, knowing that they will do quite well with the Clovis crowds. Chamber Events Director Tammi Walton has the leisure of choosing from the very best merchandise to present at the show.

Over 40 food booths dot the venue, sating every kind of appetite. In the Bullard Food Court you’ll find barbeques, International cuisine and even shrimp stuffed artichokes. Every kind of snack type foods line Pollasky Avenue. It’s a hard choice between kettle korn, shaved ice, chocolate covered fruits, hot, gooey cinnamon rolls, cotton candy and ice cream. Quench your thirst with a Pepsi product sold by a nonprofit group. ›

The Bud Light Beer Garden gets into full swing, featuring local live bands that accompany a cool brew.

They don’t forget the little ones. Visit the Don Mauer carnival or let them ride on the miniature horses, roll around in the giant water bubbles and have their faces painted.

Started over 75 years ago as part of the rodeo celebration, BIG Hat Days has become one of the major festivals in the country. It not only provides safe family fun for visitors, it also produces over $9 million to the city coffers as its huge crowds visit other city establishments.

n Rodeo Days

In late April, Clovis starts looking like an old-fashioned Western town as cowboys and animals arrive for the Annual Clovis Rodeo. Held on the last full weekend, it is California’s second-oldest rodeo, begun in 1914.

During the month, several events including art shows, roping contests and the crowning of the rodeo queen lead up to the great event that attracts over 40,000 participants and spectators to the arena. Fans enjoy the excitement of seeing steer wrestling, bull riding, bulldogging, barrel racing and mutton busting by children from ages five to eight.

In honor of its centennial, the Clovis Rodeo was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2014. Proceeds from the rodeo support local charities.

n ClovisFest &
Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly

October means autumn leaves, football and the Table Mountain Casino ClovisFest and Kaiser Permanente Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly, a Clovis Chamber event. Over 70,000 visitors return to Old Town Clovis for a weekend of free family fun.

The days start out with the launch of dozens of hot air balloons that inflate and take off across the valley skies. Visitors fill the rodeo grounds, enjoy hot cinnamon rolls or pancakes, and can get close to the inflating orbs.

They then cross the street to enjoy the festival. Over 250 craft and food booths fill 14 blocks offering great merchandise and a wide variety of foods to eat.

The Don Mauer Family Carnival will entertain the little ones who can get fancy balloon animals on Fourth Street. Don’t forget the cotton candy and ice cream.

And be sure to visit the merchants in Old Town who are open for business and have unique merchandise to sell.

n Farmers Market

The Old Town Farmers Market, hosted by the Business Organization of Old Town, B.O.O.T, is a valley favorite. On Friday nights from May through September, five blocks of Old Town are filled with delicious farm fresh produce and food vendors. There is live music every week, including a monthly concert series, hosted by KSEE/24TV. In addition to more than 30 vendors nightly, you will find local artists in the ArtHop section. The North American Pole Vault Championships are held right in the middle of the street in July and you can’t miss the Peach Party, also in July, as well as the Pistachio Party, which ends the season. A year-round market takes place every Saturday morning with growers and food vendors.

n Other Events

In addition to large, nationally recognized events, Clovis also presents many smaller, community events from the Old Town Wine Walks and Craft Beer Crawls, which take place both spring and fall. Antiques & Collectibles and Glorious Junk Days are scheduled in spring and fall, too. The Third Annual Old Town Car Show is also coming up on April 15, 2018. Enthusiastic exhibitors predict that it will soon become the largest car show in the area.

The holiday shopping season is kicked off with One Enchanted Evening in November. Horse-drawn carriage rides through Old Town start the weekend after Thanksgiving and run through Christmas. For more information, check www.oldtownclovis.org.

A highlight of the Christmas season is the Children’s Electric Light Parade presented by the Old Town Kiwanis Club. Over 100 floats and marching groups parade down Pollasky Avenue to the delight of the tens of thousands of spectators. Every entrant has one requirement – lots of bright lights that brighten the night sky. All is a build up for the grand finale – Santa Claus in all his glory in his big, white sled. w