by Kathy Eide Casas
Have you noticed the beauty that surrounds us right here in Fresno County? Yes, Fresno! Foothills covered with vivid orange, yellow, and purple wildflowers, ribbons of color on the freeways, blossoms that blanket row after row of orchards, and grape vines meticulously tied as they await the Valley sunshine.There is simply no better way to experience all that our bountiful agricultural community has to offer than the Fresno County Historical Society’s Fields of Fresno Ag Tours. Specialty guided concierge-style tours take visitors in cool comfort through the very best the valley has to offer. Now entering its second year, the Fields of Fresno Ag Tours began as an idea from the visionary FCHS Tour Director Candice Hill Troutman. Candice had just returned from tour director training in D.C. and New York, and was struck with the touring possibilities surrounding the City of Fresno. During the pandemic, while tours were down at the Kearney Mansion, she had the time to design a fun and lively historic Ag Tour, and…the rest is history! She took the idea to President/CEO Elizabeth Laval who immediately loved it, and the connections began with the Fresno County Farm Bureau as a planning partner.
As Candice described, “The original group of partners were those sitting at the planning table inside of the Kearney Mansion Museum during the middle of the pandemic when kids were still going to school online.” The original group was, FCHS CEO/President Elizabeth Laval, Candice Pendergrass, FCHS Director of Development, Ryan Jacobsen Fresno County Farm Bureau President and of course, Candice herself. Margaret Mead’s infamous quote comes to mind when thinking of that small group, dreaming and designing during the midst of the pandemic, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,’ and so the tours began. A small group of sponsors quickly and graciously stepped up to be a part of this innovative idea…the Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce, the Harrison Co., Central Valley Community Foundation, and Access Plus Capital. The stage was set, and the busses were booked!
From the moment that guests arrive at the Kearny Mansion on Tour Day, they are greeted with enthusiastic energy from a live DJ! Fun warm-ups are done to get to know each other’s names right before guests board the coach. As an added step, in order for the bus to work, all guests must do one initial dance up the steps—it’s the only way the engine can turn, or at least that’s what they tell us! Before arriving at each site, there’s a fierce competition of Ag trivia on board to win unique prizes that you just can’t find anywhere else close by: such as duck calls (just in case you need it!), feathered pins and ink, harmonicas, and local wines.
A ‘typical’ tour lasts approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. Following arrival, welcomes, and a tour of Kearney Mansion, the bus departs at 8:30 a.m. and returns to Kearney Mansion by 1:15 p.m. There is free parking inside of Kearney Park.
For the $85 e-ticket, the day includes a tour of the Kearney Mansion Museum, a seat on the motor coach, three different tours to three different Ag sites within Fresno County, local lunch, 3-5 wine (or cider) tastings, and of course those prizes on the bus!
Lunch and wine tasting takes place at the farms, and each month the tour features different Ag site. For example, in March, lunch will take place at Hillcrest Tree Farm and wine tasing at Kings River Winery. In April, lunch and wine tasting will take place at Mulholland Citrus.
The Field of Fresno Ag Tours have been met with unbridled enthusiasm. Candice commented that, “People are always surprised just how much they enjoyed the Ag tour! We always hear how much fun it was and the looks on our guests faces are priceless.”
Each tour is a new Ag experience!
For more information and to purchase your ticket for one of the 2022 dates, please visit valleyhistory.org/product-page/fields-of-fresno-ag-tours-2022-season.