Fall in the Eastern Sierra begins with an almost imperceptible change and the air feels refreshingly smooth and silky on the skin. A magical light has a clarity and crispness that brings colors into brighter focus. Lethargy is replaced by energy and, although the days begin to shorten, the available active hours increase as temperatures decline.
This is the time for fabulous fall fun in Bishop and beyond.
An Old Fashioned Country Fair “Celebrating 130 Years of Fun”
Tri County Fair: Aug 30 – Sept 2
Situated in the heart of Bishop, where the region’s natural beauty blends with the town’s graceful setting, are the Tri County Fairgrounds. Bordered by wide-open lands to one side and homes and businesses to the other this corner of town is picturesque of the real American west.
Within walking distance from the majority of the 21 wonderful lodging facilities and many great eateries, the Tri County Fairgrounds is home to one of the town’s biggest events every Labor Day weekend.
The Tri County Fair is a fun family affair with a whole host of fabulous events, exhibits and activities. There’s a good ol’ fashioned carnival with rollicking rides. The Russell Brothers Family Circus has been entertaining families here for years. The Pollywood Bird Show, Nature Joe’s Reptiles, and Turkey Stampede are a little animal fun. The big animal fun is when the cowboys and cowgirls ride in the Rodeo. The evening starts with youngsters competing in everything from a boot race to mutton bustin’, then the big boys ride rough stock in the broncs and bulls events.
The fastest, fiercest, and just plain funniest event is the Destruction Derby. It’s a crazy crush of cars in a challenge of bravery and bull-headedness by drivers in specially prepared vehicles. Over 30 cars enter the arena and only one drives out as the big winner. Most of the others have to be dragged out! It’s … well, just come see for yourself.
Entertainment in the form of comedy hypnosis, music, and puppetry is somewhat safer and just as fun. The exhibition halls showcase a wide range of talent by local artists, crafters, bakers, chefs, photographers, quilters and many more. The agricultural section shows off award winning specimens of homegrown vegetables and locally raised livestock.
The rustic nature of the town and genteel pace of life is balanced by a love of the outdoors and a passion for adventure by residents of this valley. It’s all quite evident during this fun-filled weekend that brings friends and family from three counties together for a good old-fashioned country fair.
Art in the Park: Aug 31 – Sept 3
Another fabulous Labor Day weekend event is the arts and crafts show in the Bishop City Park. Exquisite art, photography, jewelry, weavings, woodcarving & turning, ceramics, clothing, food, and many more wonderful creations are presented for sale in the booths laid out under the large shady trees of the city park. This is the perfect place and time to get an early start on your holiday gift shopping.
Art in the Park is open from Friday through Sunday from 9am to 6pm and on Monday, Labor Day, from 9am – 2pm. The Inyo Council for the Arts organizes the event and the helpful folks there can be reached on (760) 873-5950 for more information. Admission to this event is free and there’s plenty of parking, which is also free! How fabulous is that?
California Free Fishing Day: Sept 1
Fishing is always fabulous on the eastside. If you frequent the streams and creeks of the Eastern Sierra during fishing season you may know that fishing on the Lower Owens River is legal all year long. Miles of canals, large reservoirs and protected ponds, some offering handicapped-accessible fishing piers, in the Owens Valley hold a promise of exciting warm water fishing even in the winter months.
Fall, however, is probably the most magnificent season for fishing and on September 1st fishing is free for everyone … everywhere! So bring family and friends and find a favorite spot and fish, fish, fish.
Just do remember that all fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures do remain in effect. You just don’t need to buy a license for this day of fall fishing.
A Music Festival
Millpond Music Festival: Sept 21-23
Annual events bring people from all walks of life to Bishop to celebrate music and culture. The Millpond Music Festival in September is a lively weekend filled with music and unabashed dancing. With the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada as a backdrop by day and an impressive canopy of stars and the shining Milky Way by night this festival is all about the mingling of music and Mother Nature.
Now in its 27th year the Millpond Music Festival is a local favorite, enjoyed by young and old alike. Visitors also make a point of being in Bishop every September to enjoy this eclectic mix of first-rate musical performances. This year the festival takes place from September 21st – 23rd, a time when fall colors are typically at their best. Festival attendees spread picnics on the luscious green lawn of the Millpond Recreation Area and out-of-towners camp in the adjacent campground. Large tents arranged under the spreading Cottonwood trees offer workshops and intimate musical presentations. Ticket prices range from $30 for one day to $110 for the full three-day pass. Get your tickets here.
A First Nation’s Celebration
California Native American Day Celebration & Pow Wow: Sept 28 – 30
Every 4th weekend in September the Bishop Paiute Tribe holds an annual Pow Wow and parade during the California Native American Day Celebration. It is a colorful and joyous event to honor and observe deep-rooted cultures and traditions.
The weekend is filled with music, traditional dancing, arts and crafts, food and a fabulous parade. The event is held on the beautiful Paiute Palace Casino Pow Wow grounds and is open and free to the general public.
A Collectors Dream – Cars, Art & Treasures
Owens Valley Cruisers Fall Colors Car Show: Oct 5 – 7
“Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines.”
Soon it will be time to convene in Bishop for the Owens Valley Cruisers Fall Colors Car Show. The first weekend in October is full of color when lovingly restored vehicles from 1974 and before are shone and shown at the Tri County Fairgrounds. Classic cars, street rods, customs, trucks, and special interest vehicles are the center of attention in this annual event hosted by the Owens Valley Cruisers.
Altrusa’s Fine Art Show & Sale: Oct 6
Altrusa of the Eastern Sierra presents a fabulous fine art show and sale at the Tri County Fairgrounds in conjunction with the classic car show. Art and craft from local makers is presented for sale and a percentage of the proceeds fund the community services and programs of Altrusa.
Choo Choo Swap Meet: Oct 6
“It’s like 100 yard sales in one location.”
Sponsored by the Laws Railroad Museum and Historic Site this swap meet is a locals’ favorite. Find trinkets and tools, books and bicycles, clothing and carpets, luggage and lace. It’s a genuine treasure trove. Hardly anyone leaves empty handed.
This trio of events could be just the place to find a fabulous gift for a friend or loved one.
A Festival of Films & Filming
Lone Pine Film Festival: Oct 4 – 8
Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada just west of Lone Pine, The Alabama Hills is often referred to as “Hollywood’s largest natural back lot.” This monumental landscape provides a myriad of settings for movie backgrounds and evocative scenes that appear in over 400 western feature films. It was the essence of the Wild West that originally drew producers here, with the beautiful rock formations of the hills bordered by a vast open plain rising majestically to the snow capped mountains beyond. It has been a prime movie filming location since the early 1900s and the tally of films, documentaries and commercials continues to rack up.
Every year the Lone Pine Film Festival celebrates the movies and their producers, directors, actors, and crews who made the films that will entertain for generations to come. The festival presents screenings, panel discussions, lectures, professional displays, and guided and car-caravan tours of the area. It’s an extra special time to explore the museum’s extensive collection of real movie costumes, movie cars, props, posters, and other memorabilia. Other fabulous fun consists of a rodeo, karaoke, campfire evening and parade.
This event is a marvelous, in-depth look at an industry that has shaped this state. This is how the west was won!
Chocolate Art Walk: Oct 20
Take a leisurely stroll along Bishop’s Main Street from 3-8 PM. The soft twilight of a late fall evening will sooth your soul as you sample the sweets on offer at local businesses during the annual Chocolate Art Walk. Music will fill the air, art and craft will deck the walls and shelves of galleries and shops, and store staff and owners will offer the gift of chocolate.
It’s romantic, rustic and reminiscent of an age of gentility.
Visit Bishop in Fall
Stop in or call the Bishop Visitor Center at 690 N. Main St., or (760) 873-8405. Our fabulous staff can tell you much more about all these events. Ask for all the details on what, where, when an how to get the best deal and have the most fun during fall in the Eastern Sierra.
The visitor center hours of operation are Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm and Saturday from 10am – 4pm.
Be Fabulous this Fall!