FMCA’s 69th International Convention will be held March 21, 22, and 23 in an area that’s convenient to many Southern California attractions.
Approximately 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, California, is a region called the “Inland Empire,” filled with prospering businesses and suburban communities. It’s close enough to L.A. to benefit from the city’s large pool of talent, yet far enough away to avoid at least some of the big-city traffic and rush. Pomona, on the western edge of this “empire,” can boast of its accessibility to “” and its distance from “” the second most-populated city in the United States.
Agriculture was Pomona’s mainstay for many years. In 1875 land speculators bought 5,600 acres and called the area Pomona after the Roman goddess of fruit and fruit trees. The name fit well, since the land supported vineyards, as well as citrus and olive trees. Business entrepreneurs succeeded there in ensuing years, too.
While FMCA members are in Pomona for the association’s 69th International Convention March 21, 22, and 23 “” dubbed the “California Dreamin'” convention “” they will not want to miss the chance to explore Southern California’s museums, theme parks, and hot spots. Do take advantage of your time in this area by seeing as much as possible, but remember: it’s usually best to take a towed car when traveling to these attractions.
Perhaps the town’s biggest point of interest is Antique Row, said to be the largest and finest antiques complex on the West Coast. Merchandise from more than 400 dealers is assembled here “” a veritable bonanza of antiques and collectibles. You’ll find it on the 100-200 block of East Second Street.
In the autumn of 2002, the antiques district was used as the set for a portion of the new film Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat, starring Mike Myers. Many buildings were specially painted for the movie, so when you visit, some of them may still be sporting eye-catching shades.
The fourth Saturday of each month, “Passport to Pomona” takes place downtown. This free outdoor fair includes art displays and live performances by dancers, actors, and musical groups. As luck would have it, FMCA convention-goers will be in town on Saturday, March 22, so this is an event they may want to add to their “to do” lists.
Two historic homes invite visitors to take a look at Pomona’s past. La Casa Primera de Rancho San Jose “” the first house of Rancho San Jose, the original name given to this area “” was built in 1837. Inside are several rooms furnished with period antiques. The same man who built this home, Don Ygnacio Palomares, also constructed the Adobe de Palomares in 1854. This 13-room house served as a way station along the San Bernardino stage route and 20-Mule Team freight roads. Both houses are open on Sundays from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.; tours are available at other times by prior arrangement. Phone (909) 623-2198 or (909) 620-0264 for more information.
Just outside of town
You won’t have to drive far from Fairplex to find a multitude of other things to see and do. For example, the famed “Mother Road,” Route 66, passed right through Pomona. A collection of related gifts and guidebooks, maps, and apparel can be found at the Route 66 Territory Gift Shop in the La Verne Towne Center, just north of Fairplex on old Route 66. The shop, which is operated by Route 66 Inc., is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. weekdays and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday. Phone (909) 592-2090 or visit www.citivu.com/rc/rte66/rte66.html for more information.
The month of March heralds the blooming season at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, an 86-acre collection of plants native to California. The garden is in Claremont, a few miles east of the Route 66 shop, and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Phone (909) 625-8767 or visit www.rsabg.org for more information.
Military enthusiasts and aviation fans will want to travel a few miles south of Pomona to Chino, to see nearly 80 World War II-era planes at the Air Museum Planes of Fame, located at the Chino Airport. Many flyers in this collection are one-of-a-kind, and several still are taken out on flights “” including the only remaining flying Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 “Zero” in the world. Phone (909) 597-3722 for more information or visit www.planesoffame.org.
While you’re in the area, travel south and west from Chino to Yorba Linda, hometown of former president Richard M. Nixon. The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace chronicles the life of the 37th president on nine acres. The complex includes well-groomed gardens and the small house in which Nixon was born and spent his childhood years. Visitors can tour the home, which is full of original furnishings. A museum on the site contains an impressive collection of memorabilia that spans the events of Nixon’s presidency, including the ending of the Vietnam War, Nixon’s historic visit to China, and the Apollo moon landings. Among the artifacts are inaugural gowns, priceless gifts from heads of state, and even Nixon’s bulletproof presidential limousine “” a fortress that was also used by presidents Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter.
The Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace is open daily, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. A small admission fee is charged. Phone (714) 993-5075 or visit www.nixonlibrary.org for more information.
East of Pomona is the town of Ontario, known to many tourists for its biggest resident: Ontario Mills Mall. This mall boasts more than 250 shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Popular restaurants include the Wolfgang Puck Café, the Rainforest Café, Dave & Buster’s, and an enclave of others at the “Big Food” food court. A 30-screen movie theater joins specialty stores such as Liz Claiborne, Van Heusen, Etienne Aigner, and more. Major anchor stores include a JCPenney Outlet Store and an “Off 5th” Saks Fifth Avenue outlet.
All of this is under one roof “” a roof that is as large as 43 football fields. The mall is open daily, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sunday. Phone (909) 484-8300 or visit www.ontariomills.com for more information.
Ontario also is renowned as the home of the Graber Olive House. It’s a bit of old “agricultural California” that remains amid the new. The olive farm and company was started in 1894, and gourmet olives still are grown and packed there. Visitors are welcome to try a tasty sample as they peruse gift boxes and baskets at the specialty shops and tour a small museum of memorabilia. Phone (800) 996-5483 or visit www.graberolives.com for more information.
When you’re ready for a day of childhood fun (for you or the youngsters in your life), consider the Scandia Amusement Park, also in Ontario. The Scandinavian-themed family fun place offers plenty of free parking and is open daily, year-round. The park includes more than a dozen rides, two miniature golf courses, video games, baseball batting cages, and two restaurants. Phone (909) 390-3092 or visit www.scandiafun.com.
Speaking of recreation, several public golf courses can be found in this area. Check with the Pomona or Ontario chambers of commerce, or visit their respective Web sites for listings. (See “Further Info” below.)
Ready to explore a bit farther from Pomona? Drive approximately an hour west of Fairplex and you’ll be at the famed Getty Center. This complex on a hill above Sepulveda Pass includes the J. Paul Getty Art Museum, which opened in 1997. Inside is a phenomenal collection of sculpture, paintings, and drawings by Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Leonardo da Vinci, and others.
Admission is free, but a fee is charged for parking, and parking reservations are required for large vehicles such as motorhomes. Contact the museum about parking conditions before you visit at (310) 440-7300, or see www.getty.edu for more information.
Many more attractions are within “day trip” proximity to Pomona: Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Pasadena, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, and Palm Springs, to name just a few. With so many choices, you’ll want to start California Dreamin’ now, because FMCA’s Pomona convention is only a couple of months away.
The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau provides a free tourism guide, as does California Tourism. The Pomona and Ontario chambers of commerce do not provide visitor guides, but offer visitor information at their respective Web sites, or via the phone. Contact:
Pomona Chamber of Commerce
401 S. Main St., #210
Pomona, CA 91769
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
421-B N. Euclid Ave.
Ontario, CA 91762
Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
685 Figueroa St.
os Angeles, CA 90017
1102 Q St., Suite 6000
Sacramento, CA 95814
California Motorhome Length Laws
In October 2001 California enacted a law “” AB67 “” that permits motorhomes up to 45 feet in length to be driven on certain state roadways. (The previous length limit was 40 feet.) Other restrictions also apply. If you own a motorhome that is longer than 40 feet and plan to travel to California, go to www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/trucks/ and click on “Buses & Motorhomes” to obtain a list of prohibited routes and a copy of the “Motorcoach and Motorhome Network Map.” Information about other restrictions also is provided at this site. If you do not have Internet access, contact the California Department of Transportation Legal Truck Size and Weight Unit at (916) 654-5741 to obtain a copy of the map and other information.
Two articles at www.FMCA.com describe California’s motorhome length limit laws; to read them, visit www.fmca.com/news2002/0305.asp or www.fmca.com/news2001/1015.asp.
If you are towing a vehicle, be aware that the maximum vehicle combination length allowed in California is 65 feet.
The Story Of Fairplex
FMCA will be visiting Fairplex, the home of the Los Angeles County Fair, for the fourth time when it holds its 69th International Convention there March 21, 22, and 23, 2003.
Not only is Fairplex an accommodating place for FMCA conventions, but it hosts hundreds of other events each year. The biggest of all is the county fair, held in September, which regularly attracts more than 1 million people.
The first Los Angeles County Fair was held in 1922 after the city of Pomona purchased 43 acres for that purpose. It was successful from the outset.
World War II put a halt to such activities, and the fairgrounds were used as the U.S. Army’s Pomona Ordnance Motor Base. At separate times during the war years, the grounds also served as a temporary home to Japanese-Americans and to German and Italian prisoners of war.
After the war, several new construction projects began, and the complex grew to include more than 400 acres.
An exhibitor at the 1955 state fair caught the attention of a couple of entrepreneurs in the crowd with his “flying disk.” The men negotiated the rights to manufacture the disks for a small mail-order company they owned called Wham-O. The “Pluto Platter,” later renamed the Frisbee, was sold beginning in 1957.
The name of the fairgrounds was changed to Fairplex in 1984 to reflect (and encourage) its use as a year-round show and exposition center. In 1989 Fairplex was re-landscaped and several buildings were renovated.
Facilities on the grounds today include a 5/8-mile track, part of a horse racing facility called Fairplex Park. The thoroughbreds fly during the L.A. County Fair, and many of them are stabled and trained there throughout the year. Some of the richest thoroughbred auctions are held at the Barretts Equine Sales Complex.
The Pomona raceway, home to the NHRA Winternationals and the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals “” is on the grounds, as is a complex for testing vehicles used by auto research companies. And the KOA Fairplex RV Park offers 185 full-hookup sites.
FMCA members with an interest in auto racing will want to visit the National Hot Rod Association’s Motorsports Museum, located near Gate 1. Inside this 29,000-square-foot museum are 83 cars, most of which figured prominently in drag racing history. Top Fuel dragsters; roadsters; and other vehicles are displayed amid racing helmets, trophies, and memorabilia. Several Indy cars and a few speedsters that run on the Bonneville Salt Flats also are displayed. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors ages 55 and older, and $3 for juniors ages 6 through 15. A $2 discount is given with a AAA membership card. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
FMCA held its first convention at Fairplex in 1993, and gathered there again in 1997 and 2000. But whether you’re returning or visiting for the first time, you’ll likely be impressed with the home of the largest county fair in the United States.