You bet there is, and it's held the first weekend of October every year in Chico, California!
Spear-headed by Barbara & Bob Malowney, owners of Bird in Hand, which also houses the National Yo-Yo Museum, yo-yoers from all over the United States assemble in the new City Plaza to compete in five divisions of yo-yo performing. This year's winner of the 1A Division, Yuuki Spencer from San Jose, California, also won the title of World Champion in Orlando, Florida.
Even if you're not a yo-yo player, come see the national contest - you will be amazed and agog at the skills demonstrated by these young people!
Take a drive along Honey Run Road, and you'll find yourself in a different world altogether. Pastoral and scenic, there's something new around every corner!
There's the Boneyard (an ancient Indian burial ground);
the Honey Run Covered Bridge - closed to vehicle traffic now, but you can walk across it and there are picnic sites;
a beautiful old watering trough that looks more like it was built to be a reflecting pond;
the Centerville Cemetery, dating from the 1800s;
the site of the Chinese encampment from gold mining days;
Centerville, with it's schoolhouse - built in 1894 - and the Colman Museum . . .
Get yourself a map to mark the historic sites, pack a picnic lunch, and head out on an adventure!
If it's a nice warm day, you might even want to stop at one of the pull-outs (they're small) where you can walk down to Butte Creek and cool your feet (even swim if you're so inclined). Just respect the private property owners nearby, if you please.
A wonderful time to come to Chico if you're interested in the migratory waterfowl is during the annual Snow Goose Festival. It's held the fourth weekend in January and offers all sorts of activities - workshops, field trips, and special events - to enhance your birdwatching experience.
The entire Central Valley of Northern California is part of the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory route for huge numbers of waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, hummingbirds, hawks, and more. Chico makes a wonderful home base for exploring the migratory bird world!
From September through March, hundreds of thousands of migrating birds arrive in Butte County and the surrounding areas. Some pass straight on through, some stay awhile to rest up before continuing on their way, and some spend the winter. (In the Spring, I have flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying over my house on their way back north - I can tell they're passing over from inside the house as they "chatter" LOUDLY the whole time! LOL)
December and January are the months with the heaviest bird populations.
The Chico Chamber of Commerce offers a pamphlet for an easy to follow self-guided tour that is guaranteed to knock your socks off with the number and variety of birds that you will see! And you can easily do the tour in a day.
Chico has nearly 40 murals on walls, buildings, freeway supports, and even on a truck!
The topics are diverse, the artists are myriad; some of the murals are more modern, some are historic, and some have an ancient feel. But all of them were painted with love and care, and they're all part of Chico's personality.
So get a brochure from the Chamber of Commerce and see how many Chico Murals YOU can spot!
Taste of Chico is an annual event put on by the Downtown Chico Business Association, and it's coming up in about 2 weeks on Sunday, Sept 7, 2008 from Noon to 4:00 p.m.
I know a lot of new students and their parents are in town/coming to town in the next several weeks ~ Taste of Chico is a fun way to familiarize yourselves with the downtown area and many of our local restaurants and food producers, breweries and wineries.
In addition to the food & drink (there are three levels of tasting available at different prices), there will be music and live entertainment and previews of artists who will be participating in the Chico Art Center’s Open Studios Art Tour in October.
See the DCBA website for more information.
John Bidwell, founder and creator of Chico, was an adventurous young man! At the age of 22, in 1841, he led one of the first wagon trains of emigrants to California, along the California Trail. He worked for John Sutter, and ~ in 1848, after Marshall's gold discovery at Sutter's Mill ~ looked for and found gold along the Feather River, naming his mine Bidwell Bar.
He fought in the Mexican-American War, served in the California Senate, and was a member of the United States Congress. He married Annie Kennedy in 1868 and brought her to his new holdings and the home he'd built next to Chico Creek in Northern California.
Together they set out to make a difference in their world! The Bidwells exemplified Western Hospitality and entertained important visitors throughout their life together at Bidwell Mansion, but they also were extremely progressive for the time, involving themselves in horticulture, Native American issues, women's suffrage, and environmental issues. They made the donations which provided Chico with an important teaching school and one of the largest municipal parks in the United States.
Today we have the privilege of touring their lovely home, Bidwell Mansion, which is preserved as a State Historic Park. You'll learn about how they lived, their work with the Indians, the people who traversed a continent to visit them, and the contributions they made to Chico, the state of California, and the United States. Best of all, you'll see their beautiful home pretty much as it was when they were in residence!
The heart of Chico is arguably Bidwell Park. This park is named for the town’s founders, Annie and John Bidwell, who subsequently bequeathed this land to the city at the start of the 20th Century. Today this park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, spans over 3,618 acres and stretches over 11 miles. The park had two distinct areas, Upper and Lower Park. The Lower Park is more developed, housing paved roads, sports facilities, playgrounds, etc. The Upper Park is less manicured and more “wild” making it popular for hiking, mountain biking and trail riding.
Bidwell Park features a The Chico Creek Nature Center, several playgrounds including a Children’s Park, a public golf course, swimming pools, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and picnic areas, just to name a few of the amenities. The extensive trails that stretch from the Lower Park up into the Chico Creek Canyon that defines much of the Upper Park is popular for hiking, horseback riding and biking. Skaters and joggers often frequent the paved roads in the Lower Park.
Chico Creek runs down from the canyon and through the whole of the park. In Upper Park many find natural water holes, while the less adventurous chose to take a dip in the “Five Mile” or “One Mile” areas that are dammed off in the summer months to create public swimming pools. And a brave some even challenge the chilly waters of the One Mile annually on New Years Day with a polar bear swim. If you’re into nature this is one Chico gem not to be missed.
Housed within Bird in Hand (worth a visit in its own right) is the National Yo-Yo Museum, created and maintained by store owners, Barbara & Bob Malowney. Inside (it's at the back of the store), you'll find the 80 year history of the yo-yo as a toy and as a sport, the Duncan Family collection, and the world's largest working yo-yo, weighing in at 256 pounds.
Every Saturday, the Chico Yo-Yo Club meets in Diamond Alley (behind the store) to practice, teach, and assist all levels of yo-yo-ers, and once a year the club sponsors the National Yo-Yo Contest.
A lot of fun for "kids" of all ages! And the museum is free!
This is one of the largest municipal parks anywhere in the US. It extends from downtown Chico way out into the Sierra Nevada foothills. Created on land donated by the wealthy Bidwell family, it is a fine place for hiking, swimming, horseback riding, and just hanging out.
It starts near Chico State University, then extends miles to the northeast. The western part is thickly wooded, with a small river running through it. The Nature Center is in this area. As you get farther east, the trees thin out. Then you get to a vast semi-arid scrubland, with a huge canyon. The eastern and western parts are so different from each other that they don't even seem to be in the same region.
Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park is just outside downtown Chico. John and Annie Bidwell lived here for many years. General John Bidwell was a leader in the Bear Flag Revolt, winning California's independence from Mexico. He was also a farmer, businessman, statesman, and civic booster. The Bidwells donated huge tracts of land to Chico State University and Bidwell Park. Without them, Chico would be nothing.
Chico was founded in the late 1800’s by John and Annie Bidwell. Their home, located near downtown, is one of several historical homes of the era that has been preserved and restored. The Bidwell Mansion is a museum and tours are available taking you back in time to when Chico was nothing more than a pioneer town.
Hours of Operation: Wed – Fri 12 pm to 5 pm, Sat & Sun 10 am to 5 pm.
Tours & Tickets: Every hour on the hour, lasting approximately 50 minutes, $2 US. Group tours also available, call for a reservation.
During the spring and summer Chico's downtown area is closed off on Thursday evenings around 6 pm for their weekly Farmer's Market. Traffic is diverted but I didn't find it too difficult to find my way around. I went to Farmer's Market the week I was there and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only is there wonderfully fresh produce, but crafts as well. And the FLOWERS! Huge bunches of exotic-looking flowers in bright splashes of color, and only around $3 a bundle. On the eastcoast something like that would have been closer to $40. I wanted to buy the place out and stow all the flowers away on the plane to bring back to my friends and family. Attending Farmer's Market is a feast for the eyes, as well as the belly lol. There is also live music and dancing...making it seem more like a festival.
Here is a nice local museum, with exhibits on the history and culture of this region. Since it opened in 1986, it's hosted more than 85 exhibits. Entry is free, although donations are encouraged.
This is the principal institution of higher learning in this area. It has a good reputation. The campus is quite attractive. Chico would be a good place to attend college.