The city of Clovis began as a railroad station. The stop was named Clovis, after Clovis Cole, who sold land for the railroad station. Cole was a farmer who owned many thousands of acres of land. The San Joaquin Valley Railroad began construction on July 4, 1891 and ended near Friant on January 20, 1892.
The railroad was built in part because of the Fresno Flume Irrigation Company. This company built a log flume that was 42 miles long. It started at a site now under Shaver Dam, elevation 5275 feet, and travelled 42 miles into the valley, dropping 4900 feet in elevation. The flume ended on the south side of Fifth Street, east of Clovis Avenue. This is now home to the Clovis Rodeo Grounds and Clark Intermediate School. Since there was a need for workers, the town of Clovis began to grow around the lumberyard. The flume and lumber company closed in 1914, but Clovis kept on growing.
The Clovis Rodeo, one of the city's most well-known attractions, began in 1914 as a community picnic called "Festival Day" sponsored by the Clovis Women's Club. The picnic was held on Pollasky between Fourth Fifth Streets. In 1935, the Clovis Rodeo Association was incorporated, and the area of the old lumberyard then being used as a golf course was purchased and bleachers and a corral were built. This is where the current Clovis Rodeo is still held each year.
In 1969, another festival called "Big Hat Days" was started as the opener for the rodeo season. During the 70s and 80s, these festivals started to become an excuse for heavy drinking and bar-room brawls, but the City regained control of events, and now these are very popular family events. Big Hat Days is held on the first weekend of April. Events include crafts arts, music, car shows, food and fun. This all happens in Old Town Clovis, which is west of Clovis Avenue, between Third and Sixth Streets.
The Rodeo Weekend is always the last weekend of April. There is a parade on Saturday morning, and rodeo events such as roping and bull-riding are held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Rodeo Grounds. Rodeo men & women come from across the USA to participate.
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Old Town Clovis is a wonderful place to spend the day. There are dozens of antique
collectibles stores, as well as plenty of restaurants and an ice cream shop. Also located in Old Town is the Clovis Dry Creek Historical Museum. Admission is free. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday, but the museum is also open during special events in Old Town.
The Old Town area hosts a Farmers' Market every Friday night from 5 to 9 p.m. during the summer. Most stores stay open to accomodate the shoppers. This is a certified farmers market and all sorts of fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and other wonderful edibles are offered for sale.
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