The City of Fillmore, CA is known as the ‘Last, Best Small Town’. Small it is, as it only incorporates an area of 3.4 square miles. But small as it is, it is still an incorporated city since 1914. The city gets its name from J. A. Fillmore who was a general superintendent for the Southern Pacific Railroad which came to the Santa Clara River Valley in 1887.
Fillmore is located 39 minutes north of Thousand Oaks traveling on the 23 North. The 23 North ends at Moorpark, so you have to exit the Freeway and travel down Los Angeles Avenue to get to the roads taking you to the 23 North. (It is well signed, so you can’t miss it) (Google also gives you correct directions) It is a mountainous route with lots of turns (and this time lots of road work being done) One of the nice things about this drive is that you get to view the Orchards and farms that you thought had disappeared from the area. (Fortunately, only the obvious ones facing the Freeway have been the culprit of more and more condos and homes.) So the Santa Clara River Valley of which Fillmore is a part, still is well endowed with agriculture, fortunately.
As you enter the city limits the sign proclaims that the population is 14,000 and the elevation is 469 ft. The sign looked a little worn, so I am making an educated guess that the population is larger than 14,000. (According to the 2012 Census, the Popoulation was 15,002. The reason for this is that there are a lot of new home developments and people from outlying areas are probably taking advantage of this (home prices have got to be lower than the Conejo Valley or other nearby areas – it takes a little drive to get to Fillmore but it is a nice place to live and raise a family. The School District consists of two High Schools, one Middle School and four elementary schools.
Returning home, I decided to take the 126 to Ventura to avoid the road work and the twists and turns. It was quite a few miles longer but didn’t take any longer as you could go faster than 35 miles per hour and there were no twists and turns.
So much for particulars – Fillmore used to be a quaint little town that was fun to visit. On my recent visit there it looked entirely different than I remembered it from past visits. Fast Food and Big Block stores have invaded there as they have in almost every sector of this country. ‘Not so Good’. But if you go to the back streets and the area where the City Hall is located you will find remnants of the past. I went up one such street and found the water Tower with the name of the city well visible. I also found the rail tracks and loading docks for the freight trains that bring merchandise to the town and/or take it from the town.
The Train System is a big part of Fillmore – in addition to the freight trains bringing merchandise in and out of the town, there are also tourist trains which run to the orchards. There are event trains such as the ‘Mystery Dinner Train’ which I have been on. There are also other events such as the ‘Pumpkinliner’, ‘Christmas Tree Train’, ‘North Pole Train’, etc. The train system is Fillmore is also the scene for many movies and tv shows.
This last time that I was there it was lunchtime and I decided to try what looked like and was an authentic Mexican Restaurant, called El Taco Llama. The menu had a lot of variety – there were many, many items you could choose from and everything was made to order. My lunch was the two taco plate which came with rice and beans and salad and Guacamole. There were plenty of salsas on the side from the salsa buffet, both mild and spicy. Even though the tacos were the small authentic style, I could not finish the whole plate as the sides were plentiful.
For something to do and someplace to go that is different try taking a trip out here – park your car and walk around but stay away from the chain stores. These are not Fillmore, but everywhere USA.
ENTERTAINING FOR CINCO DE MAYO
Cinco de Mayo is the Fifth of May and is a Mexican national Holiday which celebrates the Mexican Victory over the French at Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a time for celebration and fiestas throughout Mexico and throughout much of the United States. Cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and Colorado have Cinco de Mayo Festivals. For those of us who do not live near where these festivities are planned or who like to celebrate at home, Cinco de Mayo is a great time to have your own party, whether it be for family, friends or your children. Your party can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like to make it. Sometimes though, simple can be best. When one tries to be elaborate, many complications can get in the way, so the following paragraphs will be a guide to a simple Cinco de Mayo Celebration at home either in your house or backyard.
Let’sstart with the decorations. The first thing you would want to buy would be the center piece of your party and that is a Pinanta. A pinata is made from paper maiche and comes in many different shapes and is usually filled with candy and other treats. The Mexican Flag is Red, White and Green and much of the Paper Goods that are made for Cinco de Mayo will be made in those colors but there will also be additional varieties that are very colorful. You can keep it simple and purchase solid shades so that leftovers can be used for other parties or you can go all out and buy paper goods that are made specifically for this event. Following is a list of paper goods and other items that you may wish to purchase for a Cinco de Mayo party:
- Tablecloths & Napkins
- Paper or Plastic Plates and Cups
- Cutlery to Match
(these can be made from crepe paper)
Flag (small paper ones for favors or party bags)
- A piñata ]to fill with goodies and for the children to break
- A Punch Bowl
The next item to think about would be the food you serve. A great way to serve food for a large crowd is to have a ‘build your own taco bar’ Purchase or prepare the meat fillings and set them out in warmers or chafing dishes for guests to help themselves. You would also need a variety of condiments. Listed below are suggested fillings for Tacos and Condiments to go along with them.
- Carne Asada (Beef)
- Tomato Salsa
- Carnitas (Pork)
- Shredded Cabbage or Lettuce
- Shredded Cheese
- Diced Tomatoes
Crema (Mexican version of Creme Fraiche)
Grilled Scallions (Green Onions)
Of course you are going to need tortillas for your tacos. Authentic tacos are made with soft shells which you can just steam, microwave or heat up on a hot grill or over a gas flame. If you like crispy shells (best made with corn tortillas) you can do them ahead of time or purchase them already made.
Most of the meat items and condiments can be made or prepared ahead of time. If making the meat items ahead of time, undercook them slightly so that when you reheat them they won’t get overcooked. Shredded Cabbage keeps better than shredded lettuce and is actually more authentic than lettuce. Salsa keeps well for many days, but guacamole is best made right before serving as the avocado has a tendency to darken. Non Alcoholic Beverages such as Virgin Strawberry Margaritas or horchata can be served.
Other Menu Items which you may wish to have are:
- Fruit Salad
- Rice & Beans
Watch our website (Recipe Section) for Mexican Recipes you may wish to try.