Hanford's Thursday Night Marketplace, file photo.
Written by Ravyn Cullor
As COVID restrictions lighten, Hanford is planning a multi-day celebration for the city’s 130th birthday.
The celebration will span three days, from July 29-31, and while plans are still being solidified, most events will happen in or around Civic Center park in downtown, said Bradley Albert, director of Hanford’s Parks and Community Services Department.
“We’ve started to see huge crowds at our Thursday night markets, people are very thirsty to get back to normal,” Albert said. “Now we’re seeing everything reopening, and we just happen to be planning a celebration to commemorate the city’s birthday. The timing is pretty good.”
Times and events aren’t concrete yet, but Albert said the list of events includes a sock hop, a drumline competition between the local high schools, a community open house, a beer garden and live music, among others.
The events will also include a classic car show organized by the Hanford Carnegie Museum, which will open its doors during the celebration to commemorate the Marchbank Speedway.
Jack Schwartz, president of the museum, said the speedway operated in Hanford in the 1950s and ‘60s, and hosted a myriad of races and many famous racers, including Mario Andretti, the Unsers and Fireball Roberts.
“People my age remember going out and seeing the races,” he said. “It brought quite a few people into Hanford, a lot of famous racers, and people appreciated it.”
The Hanford Carnegie Museum closed its doors in late 2020 on account of not being able to afford insurance and maintenance of the building, but was taken over by a newly formed nonprofit, the Carnegie Museum of Kings County, and will reopen during the event, said Albert.
The museum will have physical and virtual exhibits, including an exhibit for another anniversary in the region; the Lemoore Naval Air Station’s 60th anniversary of being commissioned.
“The city has grown a lot and many folks who move here don’t know the history,” Schwartz said. “They see the historic buildings around the civic center but being able to share the history of not only Hanford but also the base is also important for people to understand, learn and appreciate.”
The City is also working with Main Street Hanford to involve businesses in the downtown area in the event, which Albert suspects will bring residents and out-of-towners to the area. He said some businesses are considering offering a discount during the celebration.
Albert said the City will begin releasing more information on the anniversary celebration in the next few weeks, including solid times and a full list of events.