In 1957 there were about 2,000 people living in the greater Elk Grove/Wilton/Franklin area.
The Elk Grove Elementary School Mothers’ Club needed to raise funds to assist their children and their school. To do so, they organized the first Western Festival. The committee chose the first weekend in May to celebrate the beginning of Summer.
During the week prior to the festival, weeds were pulled in the cemetery, the trees lining Elk Grove Boulevard were whitewashed, western apparel was sold in local stores, and businesses encouraged employees to dress western. The festival parade had 60 entries. Anyone could enter and there were lots of students riding bicycles they had decorated. After the parade, all the festival activities were held in the high school cafeteria, now Kerr’s multi-purpose room.
The event was a great success. After paying festival expenses, the club was able to buy glasses, give medical assistance to needy students, purchase record players, records, rainy day games for the classrooms, and new furniture for the teachers’ room.
This year will mark Elk Grove’s 63rd Annual Western Festival and today there are approximately 180,000 people living in the greater Elk Grove/Wilton/Franklin area. The festival is a two-day event and is held in beautiful Elk Grove Park. The parade has around 100 entries consisting of floats, bands, color guards, drill teams, classic and historical vehicles and equestrian units. The parade is open to everyone. The event has become a major happening in Sacramento and surrounding counties with visitors coming from Sacramento, Stockton, Roseville, Folsom, and surrounding towns.