WILLITS EVENTS – THINGS TO DO
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ANNUAL EVENTS FOR WILLITS
Willits Frontier Days
In 1926, the Willits Development Association came up with the idea of sponsoring a community activity to raise funds for the construction of a much-needed hospital. Through the efforts of many prominent citizens including Dr. Raymond Babcock, Frank Taft, Judge E.M. Whitney, Judge Fred Foord, Deed Wimmer, Frank and Bill Whitney, Joe Quadrio, Edward Morris, Carl Edenfeldt, Allen Sacry and the American Legion Post, a plan was hatched and the first Willits Frontier Days Rodeo occurred in July 1927.
It was coincidentally at this same time that Frank R. Howard, the young son of Ridgewood Ranch and Seabiscuit owner Charles S. Howard, was fatally injured in an automobile accident at the ranch. The boy’s doctor, Dr. Babcock approached Howard about erecting a hospital in Willits in memory of young Frank who did not survive the fatal crash. Charles Howard agreed and decided to build the Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital shortly thereafter.
Even though the original idea of having a rodeo to fund construction of a hospital was no longer necessary, the American Legion decided to carry on with their plans for the event anyway.
The celebration was an instant success, and the American Legion ran the show until 1932 when the Willits Volunteer Fire Department accepted the leadership role. Looking to the future, the fire department borrowed money to improve the rodeo grounds by having individual volunteer firefighters sign promissory notes.
The Willits Frontier Days Association was born and incorporated in 1950 when a group of local businessman and ranchers took over the proverbial ‘reins’ of the event. The continuity of Willits Frontier Days has remained unbroken since 1926.
A non-profit organization, Willits Frontier Days still operates as it did in the beginning with no individual or organization getting any financial reward. Residents and clubs work together to put on the events and decide together how to spend the profits of each show to benefit our community.
Interested in getting involved and helping the tradition of Willits Frontier Days continue in to the future? Call 707-459-6330 or email us at: [email protected] for information on joining.
Willits Community Festival and Car & Bike Show
The Festival will be held in Recreation Grove Park from10:00 am– 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, 2017.
Please click on the link to:
- Register your car or bike
- Reserve your vendor booth space
- Reserve your free admission tickets
- Purchase breakfast, t-shirts and/or your spot in the arm wrestling contest!
If you have any questions or would like additional information about entering vehicles or motorcycles in the Car & Bike Show, please call the Chamber office at  459-7910 and our office staff will be glad to assist you.
The fun starts with a delicious hot breakfast catered by The Willits Lions Club from 7 to 10 a.m. Locals, visitors and car nuts alike are welcome; join us for a great breakfast with a front row seat to the parade of cars and motorcycles as they rumble to their show positions.
After a satisfying breakfast, take a stroll down memory lane and enjoys the beautiful cars and motorcycles on display. You wanna’ have some fun? Show off your talents and compete against car and motorcycle participants in some games of skill. Speaking of skill, you can also try yours…at the Arm Wrestling Contest this year!
While you’re cruising through the classic cars be sure to get a bite to eat and visit the vendor booths. There you’ll find a wide array interesting and fun gift items, arts & crafts and information.
Across the street, at Roots of Motive Power you can take a ride on one of their amazing engines from 10-2 PM, and inside the Mendocino County Museum, browse the exhibits and a special Seabiscuit viewing!
One of the highlights of the day is the Memorial Day Ceremony. The American Legion Post 174’s color guard will present the colors at Noon at the main stage. The procession stops at Center Stage as we sing our National Anthem to honor those who have served our nation and in remembrance of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
We look forward to seeing you on Memorial Day Weekend!
Roots of motive power festival
The major steam-up event of the year is the Roots of Motive Power Festival, held annually in September at the Roots facility. Our work efforts throughout the year are aimed at having every piece of operable equipment under power. Plumes of steam and the shrieks of steam whistles will fill the air as a variety of steam-powered equipment is fired up.
In addition to the steam-up, we reserve the Recreation Grove Park across the street for the Early Day Gas Engine Society and Bill Rose’s Model A Tour group to set up under the oaks. Late Saturday afternoon in the park we also hold the annual Roots Appreciation BBQ and raffle which has become legendary among the gourmet BBQ set. The smell of whole pigs roasting on the spit draws a huge crowd for the perfect ending to a wonderful day.
Willits Hometown celebration
Kicking off the Willits Frontier Days event is the Hometown celebration that is held in the downtown blocks of Willits. Many vendors open their doors with specials and sales to those who come and celebrate for the evening.
Booths are set up for many other businesses in the parking lot areas and several service groups, clubs and organizations set up games and fun for the kids, hold raffles and other interactive fun. Food treats, and tasty are available from local restaurants and vendors who set up and serve many street-friendly eats for visitors’ strolls around town.
The event usually runs from 6 pm to 9 pm. Information on getting involved, setting up booths and more is available by calling the Willits Chamber of Commerce at 459-7910.