Mar 03, 2018 11:00AM
By Kerri Regan
By Kerri Regan and Ronda Alvey
Photos by Amber Smith
FAST FACTS: • What’s now known as Kingsburg was established as a railroad town in 1873, when Swedish natives settled in a town called Kings River Switch – in the early 20th century, more than 90 percent of residents were Swedish American. Today, it is home to some 11,382 people.
• Looking for the world’s largest box of raisins? You’ll find it here.
• Some of the more notable folks who have called Kingsburg home include gold medal Olympic decathlete Rafer Johnson, Western film actor Slim Pickens and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray.
Valkommen! - Californian, American and Swedish flags still fly over the City Hall in Kingsburg, a hamlet that celebrates its Swedish heritage everywhere you go. A windmill near the highway beckons you into town, and colorful murals feature all things Sweden. Commercial buildings are required to display some sort of Swedish connection, and you’ll hear Swedish folk music in many shops.
Outdoor Art - This town was once nominated for the national “Prettiest Painted Places in America” award, largely thanks to the handpainted murals that adorn the downtown area. One mural features a map of Sweden and the names of Swedes who came to Kingsburg. Another features Olympic decathlon champion Rafer Johnson. Find an interactive map at www.map.creativefresno.com.
Swedish pancakes, anyone? - Check out the Stockholm Café and Bakery. Another one of our faves: the Bella Rose Bakery and Café, where you can sip your latte under an umbrella and watch the world go by.
Let’s get together - Not surprisingly, this town’s main event is the Kingsburg Swedish Festival, held the third weekend in May. A Swedish smorgasbord kicks off the events, which also include a pea soup and pancake festival, crowning of the Swedish queen, decorating of the maypole and more. Food, craft booths and entertainment fill the Swedish Cultural Village downtown. Other festivals in Kingsburg include Julgransfest (the lighting of the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving) and the Santa Lucia Festival, the first Saturday of December.
Things to do in KINGSBURG
cruisin’ - The annual Car Show and Cruise Night always draws an enthusiastic crowd of car enthusiasts. This year’s activity is set for April 20 downtown.
horsing around – Dala horses in red, blue and yellow pop up all over the place in Kingsburg. You’ll find the Swedish symbol painted on buildings, incorporated into store signage – and you’ll find a large hand-carved, hand-painted dala horse in the middle of downtown.
come on down(town) - Kingsburg’s downtown Swedish Village features antique shops, food, gift shops and much more. Memorial Park includes an arbor, bandstand, barbecues and a playground. Sitting areas, fully landscaped walkways and tree-lined streets make it a relaxing place to wander around. Be sure to take a selfie by the Swedish Coffee Pot Water Tower.
On the map: KINGSBURG
1: The Sun-Maid Market: The raisins you probably enjoyed as a kid from that famous red box are produced right here in Kingsburg – it’s the largest raisin and dried fruit processor in the world. Enjoy a sample, learn a bit about the Sun-Maid company and buy some tasty treats to take home.
2: Kings River Golf Course: Just east of town, this picturesque golf course is an awfully nice place to smack a golf ball around.
3. Ramos Torres Winery: This lovely tasting room showcases the wines that have been produced here since 2012. A $5 tasting fee (waived with purchase) gets you a flight of wine and delightful conversation with their friendly staff.
4: Historic Kingsburg Jail: This is a can’t-miss historic local landmark. The outer wall features a mural of a man helping someone escape the jail while his trusty steed (and dog) stand by.