Jun 28, 2018 11:00AM
● By Kerri Regan
By Kerri Regan and Ronda Alvey
• Reedley is home to about 20,500 people and is known as the Fruit Basket of the World, as it leads the nation in shipping of fresh fruit. Top producers include stone fruit, nuts and vegetables.
• Reedley was named for T.L. Reed, a Civil War hero and 19th century farmer who settled here to provide wheat for Gold Rush miners. He built the town’s first hotel, livery stable and blacksmith shop. He donated land for the area’s first railroad station site and school, he helped build the first church, and lobbied to build a dam on the Kings River. He was known for his work ethic, philanthropy and kindness. A granite monument stands in his honor at Reed and Manning avenues.
• German Mennonites established a colony in Reedley early in its history, and their strong traditions and values still shape the culture today. Ethnic and religious diversity have been a source of great pride in this city for more than a century.
• The opening and monster truck scenes in the 1989 movie “Roadhouse,” starring Patrick Swayze, were filmed in Reedley.
Chill out - Reedley sits along the banks of the Kings River, and its inland beaches attract swimmers, boaters, water skiers and anglers. Riverside parks delight families and friends looking for a place to park their picnic basket.
Hit the (down)town - This lovely historic area includes specialty shops, restaurants, a museum and the painstakingly restored 1903 Reedley Opera House. Downtown plays host to community events throughout the year, from the Fresh Fruit Trail to the Blossom Trail and Wine Tasting to Reedley Fiesta Days. Many shops and restaurants have been around for decades, including the Pub, Uncle Harry’s, Valentino’s and Main Street Café.
Getting crafty - At the non-profit Mennonite Quilt Center, visitors can watch quilters work on Mondays from 8 am to 3 pm. An assortment of handmade quilts are on display and for sale along with over 3500 bolts of fabric. They offer classes, long arm services and have a quilt museum featuring local artists and guilds.
Cultural treasure - The 1903 Jansen (Reedley) Opera House is a from-the-ashes story - literally. In 1902, fire destroyed two blocks of downtown Reedley, and downtown merchants worked together to rebuild most of the structures using brick. The Opera House was one of these buildings, designed to serve as Reedley’s cultural and community center. It was remodeled in 1983, and it was donated to the city of Reedley in 2001. Today, it is home to River City Theatre Company and hosts diverse productions that include plays, operettas, stage shows, concerts, dances and more.
Things to do in REEDLEY
Exploring history - Situated in a 100-year-old building that was Reedley’s first City Hall, Reedley Historical Society and Museum celebrates the town’s rich history. Its offerings include Yokuts American Indian artifacts, antique farm equipment and other exhibits that honor the area’s diversity. Admission is just a dollar for adults and 50 cents for kids, and it’s open Tuesday and Saturday mornings.
Find some fun - It seems there’s always something to look forward to in Reedley. The Fiesta Festival is in October in Pioneer Park, and the Pet and Storybook Parade delights youngsters each May. There’s the Reedley Electrical Christmas Parade in December, Taste of the Town in September and much more.
Explore outdoors - Adventures await those who enjoy getting out in the sunshine. Float the Kings River (try the stretch from Goodfellow Bridge to the Wakehouse camping area), stretch your legs along the Reedley Rail Trail or spent some time on Reedley Beach.
Stay awhile - The historic Hotel Burgess still delights visitors. Guests are greeted with a complimentary drink upon arrival and in-room breakfast for two, and the lobby still features some décor from its original opening in 1904 (but don’t worry, there’s wifi!).
Hillcrest Tree Farm - Check out the pumpkin patch and ride the steam trains every weekend in October at this fun, family-friendly farm. It’s a little early to think about Christmas, but the Hillcrest Tree Farm offers train rides, food and fun while families select that perfect tree. Mark your calendar for Pajama Christmas – the only time the farm is open after dark. The Blossom Trail Train runs the first three weekends of March, and Reedley Railfest is here during the third weekend in March.
On the map: REEDLEY
- Reedley College: Just 30 students walked these halls when it opened in 1926, choosing from a whopping six courses. Today it’s a robust community college that includes a 300-acre farm, associate degree programs, career training programs and much more. It serves more than 11,000 students each semester.
- River City Theatre Company: This nonprofit theatre company, housed in the historic Reedley Opera House, produces shows year round. It’s a great way to get your fix of culture from your seat inside a historic landmark.
- Reedley Sports Park: The city’s newest park includes a play area, covered patio, picnic tables and barbecues. Paved areas are wheelchair accessible.
- Cricket Hollow Park: Right across from Reedley Beach, this park features picnic tables and barbecues for those looking to enjoy some quality time along the Kings River.