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VISALIA

DESTINATION

2018/19

www.downtownvisalia.com 1
2 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 3
Publisher

(559) 732-7737
info@downtownvisalia.com

Creative Director / Graphic Designer

Eric Cribbs - www.cribbsproject.com
(559) 308-6277

Advertising Sales
Lara Stables
lara@downtownvisalia.com
(559) 732-7737

Stephanie Jones
stephanie@downtownvisalia.com
(559) 732-7737

Editorial Contributors
Jordan Venema and
Downtown Visalians

Photography
Michael Alvarez
alvarezphotographystudio@gmail.com
(559) 303-2721

Downtown Visalians

Advertising, Business and
Editorial Inquiries call, email
or write us at:
Downtown Visalians
120 S. Church Street
Visalia, CA 93291
(559) 732-7737

INSIDE THIS ISSUE
info@downtownvisalia.com

Every effort has been made to ensure the
information within this publication is

7 Welcome to Visalia 38 Eating Healthy / Fitness complete and accurate at the time of
publication. Downtown Visalians, and
all parties associated with producing this

12 Downtown Eating 40 Life & Music publication do not warrant such
accuracy or the claims of its advertisers.

18 Downtown Events 47 Visit the Sequoias Reproduction or reuse of any photos and/
or written material contained within this
magazine is prohibited without the
26 For Kids 50 Downtown History expressed written consent of the publisher.

Destination Visalia is publishing 10,000
32 Downtown Living 56 Parking Map Downtown copies are distributed by:
Downtown Visalians
DowntownVisalia.com
(559) 732-7737

4 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
MEET THE DTV TEAM
Hello my name is Steve Nelsen, I am Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie
the executive director for Downtown Jones and have been the Business
Visalians. I am a long-time resident of Development/Events Manager for
Visalia, San Diego native with a long Downtown Visalians since January
history of community involvement 2018. I am a born and raised Visalian
and leadership. I lead a team as and graduated from Mt. Whitney
they proactively mold the future of High School in 2012. I then continued
downtown with property and business my education at Fresno State. I found
owners, and coordinate programs my love for marketing, working with
ranging from economic development the public, and bringing new ideas
to public area enhancements. I also to an organization was the direction
have done extensive work in community engagement, non I wanted my career to go in. I am loving my time here at
profit organizations, and local government. I am driven by Downtown Visalians and have enjoyed seeing the downtown
the desire to inspire and affect change for the greater good. thrive and expand each year!
I established and serve as the CEO for C.A.R.E Foundation to
help with Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients and loved ones. Hi my name is Tony Greywolf, I am an
President of Tulare County Sheriffs office foundation board. I Enhancement Engineer for Downtown
hold a Bachelor of arts, communications from California State Visalians for almost 10 years. I handle
University Fullerton. I am a proud father of 3 children and all Graffiti removal, pressure washing,
grandfather to 17 grandchildren. trash enclosure, and landscaping for
the 72 square block district. I am a
Howdy ya’all my name is combat veteran, went to collage
Lara Stables, I am the office manager for a year and a half. I am a Native
for Downtown Visalians for 7 years. I American (Apache/Yagui) Indian.
am what you would call the handler I love riding my Harley Davidson,
of everything for the team, from outdoors, BBQing, and my job.
coordinating the Candy Cane Lane
Parade to putting paper in the credit My name is Jimmy Rivera, I am an
card machine. Im also involved with Enhancement Engineer for Downtown
property owners and merchants Visalians for the last year. I enjoy
downtown to assist in ideas and being a part of this team. It gives me
needs. I love downtown and the the opportunity to help enhance an
opportunity to watch it grow and enhance over the last already thriving community.
7 years. From events to tree lighting. We strive to make
downtown shine above any other downtown. I am originally
from Bend, Oregon. I now reside in Exeter. I am also a mother
of 4 wonderful children.

PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN
Hello my name is Michael Alvarez, I Hi there! My name is Eric Cribbs,
am your photographer for Downtown owner and Creative Director of
Visalians since 2016. I am originally Cribbsproject New Media Designs,
from Southern California city of and co-owner of Panini Nut House
Torrance but now I make my home in Café in Downtown Visalia. My
Visalia with my wife Lyn Mae Alvarez. creative side has also afforded me
I worked downtown for 10 years with a title of a self-proclaimed foodie!
Mikes Quality Camera and when I have had the pleasure of creating
they retired I continued with my design and marketing pieces for
photography and now work out of Downtown Visalians for over 8 years.
our home. I also sit on two non profit Having been raised in the Visalia, I
board’s in Visalia which are Arts Consortium where I am Vice recognize what a vibrant downtown can offer to the quality
President and Visalia Parks and Recreation Foundation where of life in a community. Now as a downtown business owner
I am a director. It’s my way of giving back to the community. myself, I feel fortunate to be a part of the Downtown Visalians
I started my photography back in 1976 and followed my team as we continue our efforts to build on an already
passion since then. I am also a stringer for the past 12 years flourishing downtown.
with the Visalia Times Delta and Advance Register. I am also
a brand Ambassador for Lumiquest based in Texas. I do many
types of photography including Portrait, Wedding and event. I
look forward to capturing your memories in downtown visalia.

www.downtownvisalia.com 5
OFFICIAL VISITOR CENTERS
Downtown Visalians
120 S. Church Street
Visalia, CA 93291
(559) 732-7737
www.downtownvisalia.com

Visalia Chamber of Commerce
222 N. Garden, Ste 300
Visalia, CA 93291
(559) 734-5876
www.visaliachamber.org

VISALIA - Visalia Convention Center

WHO ARE WE?
303 E. Acequia Avenue
Visalia, CA 93291
(559) 713-4800
Visalia is rated in the top 100 communities in America by Relocate www.ci.visalia.ca.us
America for its great music, culture, arts and entertainment, as well as
the many shopping and dining venues. Visalia’s Downtown received an
honorable mention as one of California’s Best Downtowns (according Convention & Visitors Bureau
to population) on the Best and Worst Downtown’s list saying, “It’s the 425 E. Oak
one to watch”.
Visalia Ca, 93291
Downtown is the transportation hub of the community. The expanded (559) 334-0141
transit center accommodates local bus services, a downtown trolley, www.visitvisalia.org
service to Amtrak and Greyhound Bus services.

The results of a city-wide cultural arts survey DRIVING DIRECTIONS
conducted by the City of Visalia, residents
chose downtown as their second favorite COMING FROM THE NORTH
place to take visiting friends and family. Their • Take CA-99 South toward Bakersfield
first selection is the National Parks. Downtown
• Take exit 97 for CA-198 West
has two locations where the shuttle to Sequoia
National Park can be boarded. For more • Merge onto CA-198 East
SACRAMENTO
information on the Sequoia Shuttle, call • Take exit 107A to merge onto CA-63 N/W
(877) 287-4453.
SAN FRANCISCO Noble Ave toward Cutler Orosi/Kings Canyon
• Turn left at South Court Street

Visalia
Visalia supports the use of
alternative transportation.
FRESNO We are a designated
COMING FROM THE SOUTH
bicycle friendly community
KINGS CANYON offering miles of bike routes. • Take CA-99 North toward Fresno
SEQUOIA N.P.
Downtown also scored a 98 out • Take exit 96 to merge onto CA-198 East
BAKERSFIELD
of a possible 100 rating for
toward Visalia/Sequoia National Park
being a pedestrian friendly
downtown. • Take exit 107A to merge onto CA-63 N/W
LOS ANGELES
Noble Ave toward Cutler Orosi/Kings Canyon
• Turn left at South Court Street
SAN DIEGO

6 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
WELCOME TO

VISALIA!
Y ou can call Visalia the Gateway to the Sequoias, but don’t for a moment
confuse this city for a layover on your way up the mountain. Visalia is a
destination in itself.

Better to call it the Gem of the Valley, or even California’s Goldilocks: Visalia
is neither too big, nor too small, and just about right. Equidistant between
Los Angeles and San Francisco, and an easy drive to either sandy beach
or mountain peak, Visalia is a short drive from it all, but then why would
you want to? We have all the culture and entertainment of a big city but an
overabundance of small town charm, and with all the neighborliness and
friendliness to prove it.

www.downtownvisalia.com 7
A stroll down Main Street is like walking through a single road only a few blocks long, Visalia’s downtown
portrait of the American city, a Norman Rockwell lately has expanded north and eastward thanks to a
painting of a street lined with family-owned and broadening trend of innovative entrepreneurs who
operated restaurants, historical buildings, and friendly are renovating historic buildings that have long gone
faces. But don’t be fooled: the allure of the historic underused.
Fox Theatre and buildings’ brick façades, the charm of
strangers’ courtesies – that’s where Visalia’s comparison The result is an up-and-coming brewery district that is
to the all-American Main Street ends. both redefining the boundaries of Visalia’s downtown
and complementing its already thriving nightlife and
Between new development and a culinary culture world-class cuisine.
to match any large metropolis, Visalia has emerged
as the Central Valley’s destination for food, culture, Visalia has much more to offer than just food and late-
and entertainment. Though not the largest city by night entertainment. Recently renovated Imagine U
population, its cultural diversity is reflected in its Children’s Museum is a world-class interactive museum
community of businesses and restaurants that attract unique to the Central Valley, offering children education
foodies from neighboring cities. Long contained to a and entertainment through a hands-on approach.

8 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
Visalia is also home to the Visalia Rawhide professional
baseball team, an Advance-A affiliate of Major League
Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Between Spring and
Fall, Rawhide games are an opportunity to catch the
sport’s future players, and perhaps even future Hall of
Famers, like Kirby Puckett and Randy Johnson, both of
whom played in Visalia.

From beer and baseball to Shakespeare and symphonies,
Visalia’s downtown is also home to various theatres,
like the Fox, Enchanted Playhouse, and Ice House
Theatres, supporting local and equity actors, writers, and
producers.

The Fox Theatre hosts the Tulare County Symphony’s
season between November and April, and other
performances like concerts and comedy throughout the
year. Additional venues like Cellar Door, Odd Fellows
Hall, and the Visalia Convention Center offer diverse
locations and atmospheres for a broader selection of
performances.

There is Visalia’s proximity to Sequoia National Park,
arguably one of the most beautiful parks in the nation,
but unarguably home to the world’s largest tree, General
Sherman. Not only is Visalia home to the greatest number
of Valley Oaks, but a five minute drive east lies the
Kaweah Oaks Preserve, with trails and groves of Valley
Oaks, offering a view into Visalia’s natural past.

For all of this, Visalia offers more than its size suggests,
and perhaps its greatest allure, is the size of its heart
and the source of all its small town charm. According
to a 2017 Gallup poll, Visalia was ranked as one of the
country’s happiest places to live and that doesn’t look
to change anytime soon. So welcome to heart country.
California, and enjoy all Visalia has to offer.

www.downtownvisalia.com 9
DESTINATION DESIGN (PROOF)
2018

VISALIA
MAGAZINE
Client: Arts Consortium
Designed by: Cribbsproject - New Media Design
Size: 1/2 page
Date: 2018

The Arts Consortium presents

Downtown Visalia
OCTOBER 20, 2018
10AM  5PM
Free street fair, downtown
Visalia, local entertainers and
activities for the whole family!
100 local and regional artists
selling their work.

10 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
We’re the bank
where local matters.

Visalia Branch
501 W Main St,
400 WCA
Visalia, Center
93291Ave.
(559) 802-1000
www.suncrestbank.com
www.downtownvisalia.com 11
DOWNTOWN
EATING
T o locals it’s probably obvious, but for visitors it’s not exactly common
knowledge that California is the single most productive agricultural
state in America. Crediting its rich soil and Mediterranean climate, the
Central Valley produces over 360 kinds of fruit, vegetables, nuts – you name
it – making this region the agricultural hub not only of California, but the
entire country. At the center of that hub, with its own agriculturally driven
economy and history, is the city of Visalia.

The history of cuisine can be tied to the geography of food. Culinary culture
wasn’t created from the aisles of supermarkets but grew out of the furrows
of local farms and fields. Chefs worked with what they had, and what they
had often came from their own backyard. It’s not rocket science that fresh
ingredients make for better food, and in Visalia, a chef’s backyard quite
literally has the freshest, most diverse selection of produce and ingredients
in the country.

12 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that USA
Today and Rand McNally named Visalia
one of America’s best small towns for
food. But that’s only one variable of the
equation because paints don’t just arrange
themselves into a portrait. They need an
artist, and Visalia is home to many such
culinary artists, with culturally diverse
backgrounds and various areas of culinary
expertise.

To begin the conversation about cuisine in
Visalia, one should start with the Vintage
Press, a restaurant that has been a Visalia
staple since 1966 but looks like a page out of
the roaring twenties or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s
The Great Gatsby. With leaded mirrors and
antique furniture, the restaurant’s interior
is reminiscent of art deco designs from the
period, but the menu, a creation of chef
David Vartanian, is timeless. In fact, Fodor’s
Restaurant Review called the Vintage Press
the best restaurant not just in Visalia, but in
the whole Central Valley.

Brothers David and Greg Vartanian also
own and operate Southern Pacific Depot
and Jack and Charlie’s, a pair of restaurants
located on opposite corners of Oak Ave
and Church Street, and both of which blend
fine dining with artful décor in historical
settings. Jack and Charlie’s occupy the
basement of Visalia’s old courthouse,
lending the restaurant a kind of Chicago
noir atmosphere, while The Southern
Pacific Depot located in a 1916 building
once served as an area train station.

Like the Vartanians, spouses James and
Michelle Jessen belong to Visalia’s culinary
pedigree, having opened restaurants
Tazzaria and Pizannos on Main Street, and
most recently Butcher & Baker (a traditional
butchery at 604 W. Murray.)

Between the three restaurants you can grab
a burger, wood fired oven pizza, or a Rib Eye.
Beneath Tazzaria, their flagship restaurant,
the couple opened the PhD, which serves
up the innovate pub fare, coupled with
a variety of craft beer. According to the
Jessens, their recipe and method are
straightforward: “To do one thing and do
it really good, and be as simple, clean, and
organic as we can get.”

www.downtownvisalia.com 13
Visalia burgeoning brewery district on East Main Street began with Brewbakers founded
in 1999, which serves up various burgers and pub fare. In 2017, Paso Robles’ BarrelHouse
Brewing Co. opened their third tap house after turning down invitations to build in Los
Angeles and San Francisco. They may not have an in-house kitchen, but they dish up
regular live music with a side of local food trucks.

Stacked Bar and Grill, a 5500 square foot family friendly restaurant located at 531 E
Main St. with backyard patio, games and seating. Coming soon in August 2018. We look
forward to another great addition.

Another local favorite and longtime staple is Fugazzis, serving a fusion of California
cuisines, from Thai chicken wraps to spicy chipotle pastas and various fish and steaks.

Beyond burgers and bold American dishes, Visalia also hosts a cornucopia of subtler
foods, fusions, and flavors to pique any palate.

14 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
Former Tazzaria employees Miguel and Mikayla Reyes
opened Quesadilla Gorilla, a quesadilla grill with huge flavor,
located in a nook next to Visalia’s Fox Theatre. According to
Miguel Reyes, the pronunciation doesn’t matter since “Either
way works, as long as it rhymes.” When chomping on Chili
Verde or Mac n Cheese quesadillas, the pronunciation will
hardly matter.

Downtown also has Italian restaurants like Little Italy, Rosa’s,
and pizza at the Planing Mill. Davorn’s Place at 409 N Willis
offers both Vietnamese and Thai, and Sushi Kuu on 3109 W
Noble Ave is reinventing sushi.

Chef Albert Utomo may be from Indonesia, but he worked
as the head chef at Manhattan’s wildly popular Neta.
Compared to New York, Visalia might seem like a small
town, but Utomo still presents his dishes as though he’s
under the bright city lights; everything is made fresh and in
house, down to the ramen broth.

“All the sushi that I make here is traditional but with a twist,”
says Utomo, who serves his sushi with homemade sauces.
“I have about 25 different fish here in the restaurant, and
each one has a different pairing sauce. For me, I can express
myself with food. It’s an art.”

It’s impossible to list all the restaurants in Visalia, but it’s safe
to say that from curry at Tandoori House to falafel at Pita
Kabob & Flame & Skewers, this city has got you covered, as
the man behind the area’s premier food and entertainment
blog, Joaquin Around, will attest.

Visalia resident Niccolo Go was born in the Philippines and
grew up in New Jersey, which he admits allows him “a bit of
an outsider’s inside take“at the local food scene.

“I think there are a lot of folks here testing the waters,” says
Go, referring to Visalia’s food culture.

“Right now, in Visalia there are a couple popups that are
growing. There’s a ramen popup, Gonzo Ramen, and it’s a
bit underground but it still gets 20 to 40 people,”.

Another popup experience, Bodacious Bites, can be found
Wednesday nights at Cellar Door.

“I actually help with that one,” says Go. “They serve chicken
and waffles, sandwiches, with rich, flavorful burgers. There’s
a rotating menu of different things, like chili and cornbread
or fried macaroni and cheese.”

“Another restaurant that has gotten traction lately is Left
of Center,” says Go, which serves an upscale, Mexican and
California fusion with tamales and steak tortes.

www.downtownvisalia.com 15
“And of course,” continues Go, “there’s Pita Kabob which is toeing
the line of the gastro pub. The cool thing with Pita now is that they’re
coming up with new and surprising things. They’re always switching
up their daily special, like a flatbread pizza with Cheetos.”

While Go could go on about the various places worth recognition, he
admits he has his personal favorite, one of which is Pho and Seafood,
located on what is known as Visalia’s Oval.

“I think they just do fantastically made food from Asia, whether it’s
Laotian or Thai influenced, and it’s one of my favorites. I get the whole
fish there, the Thai Pompano with coconut curry sauce,” says Go.

16 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
“I also like the Truffle Egg Toast at Charcuterie for pancake, the able skiver. Nearby on Main, Catherine
breakfast, and I like Alejandro’s Barbacoa. The meat Heaney opened Charcuterie, serving small breakfast
comes out so tender, so succulent, and it comes out as plates and sandwiches, many of which were inspired by
a whole chunk that you only need your fork to separate similar fare in New York, where Heaney formerly lived.
it.” The Canadian Club, a fried egg with bacon, Gouda
cheese on an English muffin, and flavored with maple
While Go says local chefs are testing the culinary waters, syrup, is a must.
he also knows the city’s geographic location helps.
Local coffee shops and roasters include Mavericks
“We are an agricultural epicenter, and we have access to Roasting Co at 238 E Caldwell Ave, and newcomers
such amazing produce, great meat and fresh ingredients Coffee Component Lab, a partnership between owners
to pull from. So, from that standpoint we’ll always have of the Quesadilla Gorilla and Slow Train Coffee, who
advantages,” he says, adding that the region’s cultural recently opened on 513 East Center.
diversity contributes to the accessibility of various
cuisines. “There’s great Asian food from the La hu and It’s not all restaurants and coffee shops. If you want
Laotian community, and great Mexican food obviously,” to try your own hand cooking with some of the best
he says. produce in the world, visit the Visalia Farmer’s Market
– downtown during the months’ … and … Saturdays. …
Of course, there are coffee nooks and breakfast joints discover what has made our own cuisine famous and
aplenty, but the family owned, and operated Valhalla made Visalia a food-lovers destination.
Restaurant on Center is a Visalia Favorite. Come for
a traditional breakfast or their hallmark Danish puff

www.downtownvisalia.com 17
DOWNTOWN

EVENTS

18 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 19
DESIGN (PROOF)
Client: DTV

PUB CRAWLS
Designed by: Cribbsproject - New Media Design
Project: EXPO Logo Revised
Size:
Date: 3.29.17

JUNE, JULY, SEPTEMBER

FITNESS CRAWL
MARCH AND AUGUST SIDEWALK SALE
MARCH & SEPTEMBER
PUBLIC SAFETY
SEPTEMBER FIND TIPPER ROCK THE BLOCK FOOD, MUSIC, GAMES

JUNE-JULY
STRAIGHT UP & THE EXPO HAS IT ALL!
AG APPRECIATION/ Downtown Visalia hosts this street
TOASTED WHISKEY scene, with games, live bands and
DINNER FARM TO TABLE ends the evening with dancing in the
OCTOBER MARCH streets! Downtown Expo is in May.
Approved:_______________________________________________________________________________ Date:__________________

For information and to purchase For information and to purchase For information and to purchase
Approved with changes:___________________________________________________________________ Date:__________________

tickets online go to downtownvisalia. tickets online go to downtownvisalia. tickets online go to downtownvisalia.
GRAPHIC DESIGN / BRANDING / LOGO DESIGN / ADVERTISING / MARKETING
PRINT / BROCHURES / CATALOGS / ANNUAL REPORTS / MAGAZINE LAYOUT
WEBSITE DESIGN / WEB MARKETING / ONLINE ADVERTISEMENT

com, paypal or call com, paypal or call com, paypal or call
http://www.cribbsproject.com / eric@cribbsproject.com
Phone: 559.308.6277 / Fax: 1.866.936.4304

732.7737. 732.7737. 732.7737.
These designs were created by Cribbsproject New Media Design for the specific use in which they were intended. These designs can not be utilized or reproduced without the express written consent of Eric Cribbs.
Upon successful completion of all compensation terms and outstanding balances owed to Cribbsproject New Media Design, Customer shall own all rights to the design and is granted full and unlimited reproduction rights to the Project. Should
Cribbsproject New Media Design complete the project as specified and Customer fail to provide full payment within thirty (30) days of completion of the project, Cribbsproject New Media Design has the right to pursue any or all of the following
remedies: (1) terminate the Agreement, (2) withhold all files, artwork, source, commitments or any other service to be performed by Designer for Customer, (3) commence legal action.

20 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
TASTE OF DOWNTOWN
VISALIA
Having a “TASTE” is what’s trending
in everything from wine to garlic
at festivals up and down the state.
Downtown Visalians has created the
ultimate “TASTE”’ event that sells
out each year. Just buy a ticket to
THIS IS A MUST ON Taste of Downtown and you have the
YOUR CALENDAR OF opportunity to sample fabulous foods from the bevy of restaurants in our
EVENTS… fabulous Downtown area. Restaurants open their doors once a year and
Mark your calendars for this offer a taste from their favorite menu items. The TASTE ticket also gets you
event in April. It sells out each entrance to wine tasting hosted by Suncrest Bank.
year! Bring your friends and join
Downtown Visalians, for the Annual Spend the evening strolling the streets while savoring culinary delights and
Downtown Visalia Wine Walk from enjoying live music.
5:30 to 8:30pm. Sample amazing
wines. Listen to live music while Visitors from all over the United States have come to this popular event.
strolling Downtown Visalia. For Some have dubbed TASTE of Downtown adult trick or treat. But there are
information and to purchase tickets never any tricks, only treats!
online go to downtownvisalia.com,
paypal or call 732.7737. Look for 2018 Taste of Downtown in October. For information and to purchase
Must be 21 to participate in the tickets online go to downtownvisalia.com, paypal or call
tastings. 732.7737.

www.downtownvisalia.com 21
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
Holiday happiness is all around during the Take home more memories with a photo with Santa at
209 West Main Street. Don’t forget about the kids ice
month of December!
skating in Garden Street Plaza.
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE happens once a week from
Downtown stores will be open until 8:00pm during the
5:00pm-8:00pm begining each Thursday after the
Open House evenings! Come shop and enjoy Downtown
parade until Christmas. Enjoy yourself as you stroll
Visalia this holiday season!
through shops and pick the perfect gift all while listening
to holiday tunes performed in the streets of Downtown.
Local high school bands entertain and delight you while
you stroll, shop and dine on these special open house
evenings.

To top off the perfect holiday evening you can take
a ride on a horse drawn carriage around Downtown
Visalia. What an experience and what a great value!

22 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
73RD CANDY CANE
LANE PARADE
You haven’t experienced the full
joy of the holiday season until till
you kick it off with a parade! Grab
your family and friends and enjoy
the holiday spirit as it passes
by on Main Street in Downtown
Visalia.

The 73rd Candy Cane Lane
Parade’s theme is “Through the
Eyes of a Child” and will make its
way down Main Street starting at
7:00 pm on Monday November
28th, 2018. This traditional event
recieves local television coverage
by ABC 30 and is a true holiday
gathering of all ages. Downtown
is lined with smiling faces, floats,
and parade participants having
a memorable time as the holiday
spirit makes its way into Visalia.
Come join the fun and find your
holiday place.

www.downtownvisalia.com 23
24 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
EVENTS
DOWNTOWN VISALIA ANNUAL

FEBRUARY
VALENTINE CARRIAGE RIDES

MARCH
SPRING SIDEWALK SALE
AG APPRECIATION
FITNESS CRAWL

APRIL
ANNUAL WINE WALK

MAY
ANNUAL DOWNTOWN VISALIA EXPO
DOWNTOWN CAR SHOW

JUNE
PUB CRAWL

JULY
PUB CRAWL

AUGUST
FITNESS CRAWL

SEPTEMBER
FALL SIDEWALK SALE
SAFETY DAY
PUB CRAWL

OCTOBER
ANNUAL TASTE OF DOWNTOWN VISALIA
STRAIGHT UP & TOASTED WHISKEY DINNER

NOVEMBER
ANNUAL CANDY CANE LANE PARADE

DECEMBER
DOWNTOWN VISALIA HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE

www.downtownvisalia.com 25
FOR

KIDS
I t’s a commonly shared sentiment among locals that Visalia is one of the
best places to raise a family, and of course children are a family’s great
investment. Accordingly, the city of Visalia has secured institutions of
entertainment and education to encourage that investment.

From roller rinks to museums, Planetariums and parks, Visalia has fostered
healthy growth in many ways, but lately a singular contribution to the city
has proven a destination in its own right.

The interactive museum Imagine U has long been a community staple, but
thanks to a $5.2 million grant awarded by California’s Department of Parks
and Recreation, the museum recently got a world-class makeover.

As the Museum Director at ImagineU, Katy Young knows a thing or two
about kids, and thanks to the grant she and her staff had an opportunity to
build a museum not just for children but also for the whole family.

26 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 27
It’s a family destination. The whole design of the facility shop while “charging their parents exorbitant amounts
is set up so that parents and kids can play together and of money to fix the car.”
give kids an opportunity to express their imaginations
in many ways. Exhibits at ImagineU range for ages from infancy to
eight years old yet the museum also attracts older
In short, the museum offers children ways to explore children and families who spend 4-6 hours on a weekend
their imagination through free play and activities taken at the museum. More importantly, re-entry is permitted
from world scenarios. at Imagine U. It allows people to enjoy what downtown
Visalia has to offer, and in the heat of summer it’s
They have a citrus packing facility that offers kids probably the cheapest air conditioning you’re going to
the ability to pick fruit from a tree all the way down find, in addition to entertainment for the kids.
to packing and distributing it. Kids can work with
wheelbarrows or hand-crank a conveyor belt, and With its reputation as an agricultural community, some
sort fruit by color. They work together, and there’s an people may be surprised by the city’s attractions,
emphasis in social interaction. but that reputation hasn’t stopped the museum from
creating a one-of-a-kind museum.
Another station at Imagine U is an automobile garage,
where kids are able to work on cars and manage the

28 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
Imagine U is the largest museum of its kind within four certification and ranking higher from Silver to Gold to
hours and yes we’re in the middle of the most productive Platinum. They are the only gold certified building in
land in the country and we provide 30 percent of the Tulare County and only one of two in the whole Central
food in the country, but we’re not just about agriculture. Valley.
Our kids deserve the best. It’s why we do what we do.
For those who live outside the Central Valley, the
The building is setting a standard not just for the city museum offers a special allure because its exhibits draw
of Visalia, or even the Central Valley, but also for the from the natural qualities of Visalia. Its agriculture and
entire state of California, leading the way in efficiency industry are one of the main attractions to the region.
and sustainability.
In addition to Imagine U, Visalia has plenty to offer.
They are a LEED gold certified building, which stands In the vein of education and entertainment . Mooney
for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Grove Park, the oldest county park in the State of
This certifies buildings by points, beginning with basic California has an abundance of activities to partake.

www.downtownvisalia.com 29
For example feed ducks, BBQ’s, paddle boats, walking For entertainment, Adventure Park has everything from
trails, and host birthday parties. It is also home of the an arcade to bumper cars to laser tag. If Adventure Park
Tulare County Museum. doesn’t deenergize your kids quite enough, they can
lace up their skates and maneuver laps at Roller Towne
The Tulare County Museum possesses one of the or jump to their heart’s content from trampolines into
largest collections of Native American Yokut baskets, foam pits at the recently built Quantum Leap.
in addition to pioneer artifacts and the Pioneer Village.
The village includes restored school houses, homes It is truly an experience for kids to see nature in a
from the 18th century, Visalia’s first jail and even a completely different way, and Visalia has the outlets to
caboose. allow for a variety of activities.

30 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
ART EXHIBITIONS • GIFT SHOP
ADULT & KIDS YEAR-ROUND ART CLASSES
COMMUNITY EVENTS

214 E. Oak Ave
Visalia, CA 93291
(559) 739-0905
Wed - Sat • Noon - 5:30 p.m.
www.artsvisalia.org

www.downtownvisalia.com 31
DOWNTOWN
LIVING
L ike most cities in America, the heart of Visalia is its vibrant downtown,
which makes our Main Street its primary artery. Since pioneers settled
in this area around 1850, Visalia’s Main Street has been a growing center of
commerce and trade, as mud and horses gave way to paved streets and
cars.

The look of downtown Visalia has changed over the years, as the population
has grown and city limits expanded. That growth has been steady, but in
the last decade, a new boom and bustle has come to Visalia’s city center
in the form of new business, architecture, and entrepreneurs. While Main
Street appears to retain its traditional, sleepy charm, something is also
starting to wake up.

Despite Visalia’s remote location from the coast and other metropolitan
centers like San Francisco and Los Angeles, Visalia has become a hub of
culture, theatre, and music. In short, downtown Visalia is proving a place to
be a destination with a growing desire not just to visit but also to renovate,
develop, and live in the city center.

The hallmark of any healthy, vibrant downtown is mixed-use retail and
residential, which is a growing trend in downtown Visalia. This has been

32 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 33
encouraged by the city and entrepreneurial residents,
who are drawn to the new-look downtown.

“You feel like you’re in New York,” says downtown
resident Troy Korsgaden. Perhaps a shocking statement
about a Central Valley town, but if anybody would know,
it’s Korsgaden. As president of Korsgaden International,
he travels internationally regularly, but calls Visalia
home. A successful businessman, Korsgaden could live
anywhere, but he prefers his modest private residence
above Crawdaddy’s restaurant, where he has lived for 11
years, which makes him one of Visalia’s first downtown
residents.

Korsgaden owns the building, though his brother is
the restaurateur. The brothers bought the property
from the city 11 years ago to build one of the city’s first
mixed-use buildings.

“The city wanted mixed-used back then,” says
Korsgaden, adding, “and they want more of it now.”

When Korsgaden bought the property eleven years
ago, its location on Bridge and Main Street could have
been described as the eastern limit, but fast-forward a

34 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
Odell-Mor Suites. 209 N. Encina St. Visalia, CA (A Legacy Investment Property)

www.downtownvisalia.com 35
decade later and his home has become more central to In 2009 Visalia natives Marlene and Sam Sciacca added
a growing and diversifying downtown. a residential unit on the second story of Chelsea Street
Boutique. “The person that moved in saw the floor plans
Korsgaden has seen the growth firsthand, and and immediately said ‘I want it,’” says Sam Sciacca. “He
appreciates the convenience and vibrancy brought by signed the dotted line before it was even completed
development. and he is still there.”

“I love it because everything is down here –a lot of Capitalizing on the high demand and little supply,
restaurants and shops, and down the street is the the Sciaccas redeveloped the 1859 Sweet Building on
Smart and Final grocery store that I can walk to,” says Main Street in 2017, creating six residential and two
Korsgaden. “And in the morning there are running clubs commercial units. To date, Casa de Sciacca is downtown
running down Main Street, and the weekends are a Visalia’s largest mixed-use development.
blast. It’s like new Orleans all over the street.”

36 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
The Sciaccas don’t want to be the only multi-residential space as does the building on the corner of Center/
units in downtown. They see room for growth and Court. With the success that has been witnessed with
believe that more people living downtown will benefit existing living spaces and the potential for continued
the city and its businesses. build out one can only wonder the opportunities that
exist downtown.
“We have built in six new shoppers for downtown Visalia,”
explains Sciacca. “These tenants are all shopping here Jr Shannon is in the process of developing an upscale
and without even spending a nickel on a burglar alarm, condo living at 209 N Encina. The building is located
I have got a built-in system that tells me if there is a across from the iconic Taylors Hot Dogs on Center/
problem downtown,” he says, referring to the residents. Encina. It will be 4 condos, 3- 1bed 1 bath and 1-2bed
2bath with onsite secure parking. Projected completion
Sam sees the opportunity and though he acknowledges August 2018. He would like to put out a big billboard
the difficulty in developing older buildings, he insists: poster to take sign ups and see if people want them
“We’ve got to find a way to do it.” Because despite the furnished or not.
initial costs, “the properties that I bought have been the
best investment I have made in 40 years.” Bob Golden just purchased Midtown building and is
currently going through site plan to have living there
Many of Visalia’s historic buildings and businesses as well.
have second stories that either like vacancy or remain
underused as storage.

We are seeing other developers looking to provide
additional possibilities for downtown living. The old
Palace Hotel offers a great potential for additional living

www.downtownvisalia.com 37
EATING HEALTHY
FITNESS
W orking out is an essential part of maintaining a
healthy body and with the variety of fitness studios
downtown, one has plenty to choose from when wanting
Studios such as Empower Fitness Training, Elite Results
III, and The Body Effect all prove how circuits involving
different types of exercises provide the body exactly
to find a workout that best fits their lifestyle. Ranging what it needs to maintain a great shape. Whether it is
from pilates to HIIT (high intensity interval training) the kettle bell swings, tri-cep dips, planks, or squats, these
fitness studios downtown each have something unique studios provide their clients with a challenging workout
to offer. that allows them to pin point different muscle groups for
a series of rounds.
Full body workouts come in all different types of forms
and taking classes at studios like Oak Street Studios, The The newest studio to enter East Main street in Visalia is
Space Yoga Studio, Katie’s Custom Fit, and Flow Studios Blueprint Studios. Blueprint has put a spin on not only
showcase that bench pressing and jump squats aren’t the workout, but the atmosphere of the studio itself.
the only way to get fit. These studios offer classes such With it’s neon blue lights, loud and energizing music, and
as Pilates, Yoga, Barre, and Aerial in which the individual punching bags filled with water, one is sure to receive
focuses on improving strength, balance, and flexibility all an excellent workout all while feeling unstoppable under
within the limits of what their body is capable of. These those blue lights. Incorporating boxing with circuit
movements target specific muscle groups that allow for training allows Blueprint’s clients to get a dose of some
a unique style full body workout. fun when punching the water bags along with the
intense workout that naturally comes with it.

38 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 39
LIFE &
MUSIC
T hey say music is a universal language, and if that’s true then Visalia
is probably fluent. Between the stage at the historic Fox Theatre and
venues like the Cellar Door, there isn’t a night in town without some kind of
live performance - just follow the music. Admittedly, you won’t find stadium
tours here as you would in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but thanks to
Visalia’s central location between those two cities, this otherwise out-of-
the-way tour stop has become a destination even for Grammy-winning
musicians.

Perhaps it’s the small-town charm that lured musicians like Billy Corgan of
Smashing Pumpkins and iconic Smith’s front man Morrissey. Indie favorites
Bon Iver and Vampire Weekend as well as Iceland darlings and Monsters of
Men who played on our smaller, more intimate stages. We should also credit
the local effort of music promoters like Ryan Stillwater and Michael Cavale
of Rainmaker Productions and Aaron Gomes of Sound N Vision.

Ryan Stillwater and Michael Cavale created Rainmaker Productions in 2013
since hosting 3 to 4 shows annually at Visalia’s historic Fox Theatre on Main
Street.

40 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
You’d guess it might be difficult for promoters to
attract high profile musicians to an area known more
for its cows than its music venues, but according to
Stillwater “we only do the shows that we want to
do, and not just shows that are coming through or
available.”

That means Rainmaker has been able to book
prominent musicians like Three Doors Down, Martina
McBride, and Foreigner, and intend to keep bringing
in the hits and true to Visalia’s reputation as a close-
knit community, Rainmaker Productions selects a
nonprofit and charity as a beneficiary for every show.

Tapping into the pool of popular independent
musicians, Aaron Gomes began bringing popular
touring bands and even future Grammy winners to the
small stage for nearly a decade. Of all the surprises
in Visalia, Sound N Vision may be the biggest for
its ability to regularly draw national talent and host
shows for as low as $5 or $10 per ticket.

As a former touring musician, Gomes built
relationships with other bands and booking agents,
and in early 2000 began hosting shows at Howie and
Son’s pizza parlor located on Mooney Boulevard. As
he brought in larger bands more regularly, Sound N
Vision began hosting shows at Cellar Door located on
the corner of Main Street and Court.

Now Gomes says Visalia has an “epic music scene,”
an island in the area for nationally touring bands
that otherwise would overlook the Central Valley.
Credit goes to Gomes who has an amazing sense
for potential. He’s booked Grammy nominated and
award-winning musicians like Foster the People
and Bon Iver, who won Best New Artist and Best
Alternative Album in 2012.

Don’t think that Visalia’s flourishing music scene is
only an imported phenomenon. Other than hosting
monthly, even weekly shows, Sound N Vision offers
free summer instrument classes to youth, which is
helping to raise a new generation of rockers whose
talents are showcased every October at the annual
Tastemakers music festival.

“It focuses on showcasing our youth music students,”
says Gomes. “Kids who are ages 10 to about 15
actually perform on stage, so people who donate to
the program throughout the year can see the fruits
of their labor.”

The performance by Sound N Vision students is
followed by what Gomes calls “The most relevant and
hardworking local artists,” which is then rounded out

www.downtownvisalia.com 41
by a nationally touring band. “This last year we also had Simply put, says Gomes, “It’s a dance and DJ party. A
food trucks and a variety of microbrews,” adds Gomes. steady thing, all the time.” Tickets run between $5 and
$7.
Held every year at Rawhide Ballpark, tickets for the
festival usually cost about $15. The first week of the month definitely is steady for
the Garden Street Plaza, which also hosts the Blues,
As far as promoting music goes, Gomes has also passed Brews, and BBQ every first Friday between April and
the torch to his son Caleb, who has begun featuring September, from 6pm to 10pm.
monthly, all-ages shows at Odd Fellow’s Hall on 116 S
Court Street, which are announced on Sound N Vision’s The free event began 15 years ago by Visalia native
webpage Bruce Bucz, who has helped curate “The best regional
blues acts,” complemented by wine and beer, and BBQ
“It’s like a DIY spot for local kids,” says Gomes. served by Dickeys.
“We’re drawing a thousand people to Garden Street
When temperatures rise in the summer, so does the Plaza,” says Bucz, and no wonder. The event regularly
volume, and weekly events move to the plazas and hosts bands from around the state, sometimes even
streets downtown. As well as various locations with DJ’s nationally, like Brad Wilson and the Rolling Thunder
and live bands. Blues Band, the MoFo Party Blues Band, Deja Blue,
Electric Grease, as well as classic rock tribute bands for
Throughout the summer months of June, July, and ZZ Top and AC/DC.
August, local DJ Ren Rock partners with Sound N Vision
to host the SunDaze day party on the Garden Street “It’s come a long way in the last ten years,” says Bucz
Plaza, every first Sunday of the month. about the music scene in Visalia. “I’m really impressed
with what they’re doing at Cellar Door, and you can

42 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
catch live music at Crawdaddy’s seven days a week, or show with cover features “guys you hear on the radio,
other little bars with acoustic guitars. It’s made us kind and up and coming hot artists.”
of a music hub for the Central Valley.”
Though BarrelHouse will not serve its own food, it
Visalia’s growing reputation as a musical hub even has welcomes outside vendors and will host food trucks in
helped Bucz book bands for Blues, Brews, and BBQ. the spacious back garden.
This tradition in 2018 has been changes to Tacos and
Tributes with only four shows during the year. In addition to these festivals and venues, folk guitarists
strum on weekend evenings at Brewbakers and during
“Now I’m getting calls from San Francisco and Los the Thursday evening downtown Farmer’s Market on
Angeles bands wanting to play,” agrees Bucz. “We’re Church Street. Along Main Street you can as easily find
a stopover for music and you’d think a Central Valley a bar with karaoke or even a busker – just know if you
town would be limited to country music, but we’re not.” ever find yourself lost, all you have to do is follow the
music.

Visalia’s most recent addition is the BarrelHouse
Brewing Company’s third taproom, which opened last
summer at 521 E. Main Street, and plans to host free live
music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings,
with one cover show a month.

According to co-owner Jason Carvalho, the monthly

www.downtownvisalia.com 43
44 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 45
46 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
VISIT THE

SEQUOIAS
Y ou’ve heard the phrase one in a million, but what about one in three
trillion? According to a study by Thomas Crowther from Yale University,
there are over three trillion trees on Earth, and the largest of all those leaves
and branches is right here in Tulare County. At 275 feet tall and with a
circumference of 102 feet, the giant sequoia General Sherman is the world’s
largest tree.

www.downtownvisalia.com 47
About 2,500 years ago General Sherman started as a off where you please, whether it’s for an up close view
seedling, growing slowly and remaining secluded until of General Sherman, a hike to Moro Rock, or to wander
discovered in 1879. In the early 1900s, a wagon road Crescent Meadow.
made the tree accessible to travelers for the first time,
but before the paved highway was finished in 1935, it Shuttles leave Visalia between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. from
wasn’t always easy to visit the Big Trees. Today, visiting multiple stops that include Wyndham Hotel, Fairfield Inn,
the one-in-three-trillion General Sherman is as easy as La Quinta, Lamp Liter Inn, Hampton Inn, the Convention
catching a cab. Center, and Visalia Transit Center, with return shuttles
leaving the park as early as 2:30 p.m. and as late as 7:35
Between May and the end of summer, the Sequoia p.m.
Shuttle offers round trips between Visalia and Sequoia
National Park for only $15. Tickets not only include entry For more information or tickets visit Sequoia Shuttle’s
to the park but also give passengers unlimited in-park website www.sequoiashuttle.com.
shuttle service to other attractions. Just hop on and get

48 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 49
DOWNTOWN
HISTORY
T erry Ommen, 70, may be a modest man, but his knowledge of local
history is not. Ommen came to Visalia in 1972 and served with Visalia’s
Police Department before inheriting the role as local historian. Now retired,
Ommen is a published author and Visalia’s History Laureate.

“Well, that’s what the city council has said,” Ommen jokes, “but I can’t spell
the word so I have to take it that they know what they’re talking about.”

Ommen says he never intended to be the “local history guy,” and though
he admits to sleeping through his history classes, he’s since made up with it
with more than 30 years’ experience researching and studying the history
of Visalia and Tulare County.

50 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
www.downtownvisalia.com 51
Visalia was founded in 1852 and named after
Nathaniel Vise, one of the first inhabitants
of a fort built by early setters. The location
of that fort, according to Ommen, was on
the site of the old Copeland lumberyard
on Oak Street.

Settlers were attracted to the region by
the allure of gold, but Ommen says they
stayed because of water. Once known
as the Four Creeks region, Visalia was “a
fertile area in the midst of what might be
considered a desert, right in the midst of a
delta region,” he says.

“Prior to settlement this area was a huge
oak forest with some still standing,”
continues Ommen. “But back then it was
so thick that you could probably be 300
feet from the new downtown and not see
any buildings. They could hear the town
but didn’t see it.”

Thanks to the Valley Oak Tree Ordinance,
which prohibits cutting down the oaks,
many of the trees remain as part of the
city’s living history. Today Visalia is the
largest remaining stand of native Valley
Oaks in the Central Valley. The best
example of these oaks remains at the
Kaweah Oaks Preserve, just east of Visalia
on the 198, and according to Ommen it
“basically represents what Visalia would
have looked like pre-settlement days.”

If the oaks are an image of Visalia’s natural
history, then Main Street represents the
city’s architectural history. Buildings like
the Palace Hotel, Fox Theatre, and others
act like physical windows with a view of a
city emerging from the Wild West.

“When people talk about the Wild
West they talk about Nevada, Arizona,
Colorado, and Texas,” says Ommen, “but
California tends to be neglected. Many of
our towns predate those old west towns
“We have about 12 of them left in town and these horse rings are
like Tombstone and Deadwood.
embedded in the granite curbing. When I first came here, I had heard
that people used to tie horses up to them and I said to myself that
Some of the historical artifacts of Visalia’s
I’d like to see some proof,” says Ommen. “I was looking at an old
wild west are smaller and less visible than
photo one day and I saw a horse and a buggy with the reigns tied
its brick facades, but many iron rings
to the ring, and I thought, my God, it’s true.” Ommen immediately
used for tying up horses can still be found
went to the Rotary club and arranged to have plaques placed at each
embedded in curbs around dowtown.
location.
“Many are from the early 20th century, and
perhaps even as early as the 1890s”, says
“Other remnants of the horse and buggy days is a buggy step, which
Ommen.

52 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
was used by ladies to get into a buggy,”
adds Ommen. “There’s a family here, the
Levy family, who built a house in the early
1900s on Court Street and Race, and next
to the house is a brick structure still next
to the curb.”

Visalia’s physical history isn’t limited to
street-level objects though. Many homes
built in the 1870s are still standing and the
Palace Hotel on the northeast corner of
Main and Court Streets played a prominent
role in local history. But like any old western
town, according to Ommen, Visalia was
“still pretty primitive in the 1870s and
buildings were hodgepodges.”

1876 could be called the year Visalia entered
the modern era. It was the country’s
centennial year in which the Visalia Court
House was completed and dedicated by
the standing governor of California. Now
home to offices and the restaurant Jack &
Charlies, the Court House is Visalia’s oldest
continuously used commercial building.

Another historical landmark, and perhaps
the city’s unofficial icon, is Visalia’s Fox
Theatre on Main Street, which opened in
1930 and was built by the famous movie
mogul William Fox. Even by today’s
standards the building is architecturally
unique, and it’s amazing to wonder what a
1,200-seat theatre meant to a town with a
population of 7,000.

Though Fox built multiple theatres,
including Oakland and Hanford, each
had its unique architecture. Visalia’s Fox
Theatre is characterized by a Spanish
exterior and interior blend of Moroccan
and Indian, perhaps represented a 1930’s
Hollywood version of the Far East.
The intent of the design, says Ommen, “was
to make it look like an Indian courtyard.
They had a cloud machine so when you sat
in the theatre it looked like clouds moving.
They also had lights that twinkled in the
ceiling,” he says, which simulated stars.

While the city’s history lies both in nature
and architecture, Visalia’s story can also be
found underground.

During Ommen’s research, he traced a
thriving Chinatown in Visalia dating back
to 1860. This wasn’t uncommon in many

www.downtownvisalia.com 53
settlements, yet surprisingley is that Visalia’s Chinese “We were sort of the outback, it was easy for the less
population does not appear to have come because desirable elements of society to find this a nice place to
of railroads, but because of gold. Like most Chinese lie low,” says Ommen, referring to famous criminals like
settlements in the American West, it was located on the Charles Boles.
periphery of town and became a source of alternative
hobbies, including opium and prostitution. These Boles, also known as Black Bart, was a famous outlaw
activities weren’t just “done in the dark”, metaphorically and notorious stagecoach robber who was imprisoned
so to say, but also quite literally. in San Quentin. After serving his time, “some claim
Boles came to Visalia looking for the quiet life in his
“We had basements, cellars, and crawlspaces between senior years, and others say, no, he was looking for more
buildings,” explains Ommen, referring to establishments stagecoaches to rob,” says Ommen. “Whatever reason
like Lum Lums and Double LL, businesses on either side he came, his last known sighting was definitely in Visalia
of Center Street. in 1888, and I don’t think that’s by accident.”

On Center Street between Bridge and Santa Fe, two In 1882, Chris Evans and John Sontag were a pair of
side-by-side brick buildings were built in 1894, following famous train robbers responsible for the largest manhunt
a fire that wiped out what Ommen describes essentially in California history. They made their headquarters in
as a shantytown. “Each one had a basement and at one Visalia.
time a crawlspace between each other.”

54 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
“Early on they were seen as fine outstanding citizens,”
says Ommen, “but they were so well-known that
newspapers throughout the country mentioned the
Sontag-Evans gang a lot.” The pair operated in the area
for about two years, racking up a $10,000 dollar reward
for their capture, which lured bounty hunters far and
wide. ONLY

“The US Marshall and Wells Fargo detective James 7
DAYS A
Hume even came here,” continues Ommen, “and they Discounted
strategized in the Palace Hotel how to catch these two WEEK Passes
Available
characters.” The search party eventually cornered the
pair at the Stone Corral outside Visalia’s city limits in
1892, killing Sontag and capturing Evans.

The Dalton Gang also operated throughout Tulare
County. In 1889 Grant Dalton was captured, convicted, VISALIA
TRANSIT

and imprisoned in the Tulare County Jail beneath the
Visalia Court House, though “he ended up escaping ONLY

from the brand new county jail in 1890,” says Ommen.
That prison is now the location of Jack & Charlies, RideVLINE.com

which allows guests to enjoy a cocktail and dinner while
sharing the same space where Dalton was imprisoned.

Like any history, Visalia’s is both visible and invisible, www.RideVLINE.com
but always moving, much like the creek that runs under
downtown Visalia. 877.404.6473
“How many towns have a creek running underneath
downtown,” wonders Ommen, who finds a special
interest in Mill Creek. “Half a mile of the creek runs
underneath buildings and roads of downtown Visalia,
beginning around Santa Fe Street, meandering through
downtown and popping out about where Kaweah
hospital is now.”

“That whole underground Mill Creek is mysterious,”
continues Ommen, “and if those banks could talk, they’d
have some stories to tell.”

Though the creek probably won’t be giving up its
secrets anytime soon, Ommen will continue to preserve
and share the stories this city has to tell.

Would you want a side bar listing Ommen’s website,
where people can buy his book? Also, a walking tour
can be found at the following website. I can write up a
short side bar if so.

http://www.visitvisalia.org/member/historical-walking-
trail/517018/
http://visaliahistory.blogspot.com

www.downtownvisalia.com 55
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58 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019
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60 Destination Visalia, CA | 2018 / 2019