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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Look Back: Walnut Creek Grape Carnival 1911

Sep 10, 2021 03:16PM ● By Pam Kessler

Long before Walnut Creek was known for its namesake nut, it was a preeminent grape growing region in the late 1800’s. In fact, grapes accounted for one third of the agriculture production before disease and Prohibition decimated the industry in the 1920s. Citizens celebrated the community's cash crop in October, 1911 at the Walnut Creek Grape Carnival. 

Highlights of the event were “aero plane” rides given by Oakland pilot Weldon Cook, a parade down Main Street, and baseball game between the married men of Concord and Walnut Creek. 

By the 1930s Walnut Creek was celebrating other crops: walnuts, pears, and citrus. After the Walnut Festival Association incorporated in 1938, its annual fundraising carnival became Walnut Creek's signature event. And a substantial source of capital for financing ballpark fields and improvements at city pools. But by 1976, City Park could no longer handle the thousands of people who attended the event and it was moved to Heather Farm Park where it remains today.

While there is no Main Street Parade this year, the Walnut Festival returns September 23-26 to Heather Farm Park.

Source: Walnut Creek An Illustrated History by Brad Rovanpera

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