Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park and the Friends of Allensworth will celebrate a Rededication Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9.
Many of the 20 historic buildings in the park will be open to the public. Docents dressed in turn-of-the-20th-century fashion will provide living history demonstrations, recreating daily life in the only town in California founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. Horse and buggy rides, home tours, live musical entertainment, and food vendors of all kinds promise a day of family-friendly celebration, education, and fun.
In 1908, retired Colonel Allen Allensworth, Professor William Payne, and their partners purchased a tract of land in southwest Tulare County where African Americans could reside free of racial prejudice.
The founders created the California Colonization and Home Promoting Association to sell land to prospective citizens. The townspeople governed themselves through the Allensworth Progressive Association. By 1912, Allensworth enjoyed its own school district and voting precinct.
Allensworth citizens prospered mainly in agriculture and the dairy industry until the late 1920s. Irrigation water depleted to a trickle and the Santa Fe Railroad closed its Allensworth Station rendering exportation of Allensworth products nearly impossible. Residents reluctantly moved away and the town fell to ruin.
By the late 1960s, Allensworth seemed in danger of disappearing from the map of California. Cornelius Ed Pope, an African American resident of Allensworth and draftsman for the Department of Parks and Recreation, began a campaign to restore the town into a California State Historic Park.
On May 14, 1976, the California State Parks Commission approved plans to develop the park, and on October 9 of that same year, the initial dedication was celebrated. This uplifting chapter of African American history has been preserved so that we all can experience it today.
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is located about 50 miles south of Visalia near the town of Earlimart, at Highway 43 and Palmer Avenue.
Admission to the Rededication Festival is free. The parking fee is $10 per car.
Information: Friends of Allensworth, (661) 748-8461 or emailing Fitzgerald@friendsofallensworth.org
Volunteers are needed for the Colonel Allensworth Historic State Park Rededication Festival to be held at the park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 9. Volunteers will help with the stage, store, and vendors. Lunch will be provided. Information: (661) 748-8461, email Fitzgerald@friendsofallensworth.org or sign up here: https://forms.gle/QAYigoAPg6XHW4D46.
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