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As the sun begins its trek further south onto the horizon, you begin to feel a change approaching. The mid-summer’s heat is starting to lose its grasp as the mornings are replaced with a crispness signaling fall is coming. While the days are getting shorter, it brings with it a magical time filled with color and excitement. This is a time for all who visit to experience the local’s season. It’s time for fall festivals in the High Sierra.

49er Festival & Chili Cook-Off

Groveland – September 21st

Groveland 49er Chili Cookoff High Sierra Fall Festival
Photo by: Terri Metz Photography – Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne

Originally dubbed the “Old West Days,” the 49er Festival and Chili/Salsa Cook-off celebrates Groveland’s early days of the California gold rush era. A time when shoot-outs occurred in the streets and hangings were an everyday matter, Groveland was a true boom-town. With numerous saloons and hotel establishments filled with the wildness you’d expect from the days of gold mining; this event brings back that era of the wild west. The day starts off with an old-fashioned parade on Main Street that turns into a bit of mayhem including a western shoot out, and maybe even a kidnapping. From there, the crowd moseys on over to the town’s park where vendors offer themed crafts, live western music & dancing, more gunfight re-enactments and a chili/salsa cook-off, featuring booths constructed to follow a gold rush era theme. It is a full day of fun not to be missed!

Lone Pine Film Festival

Lone Pine – October 10th – 13th

Image appears courtesy: Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce

Ever wonder where all those classic Western films were shot? The Alabama Hills just west of Lone Pine has been captured in over 400 feature movies. So much so that it’s often referred to as “Hollywood’s largest natural back lot”. Every year, the Lone Pine Festival celebrates this fact by showcasing movies and their producers, directors, actors and crews who made these films that will entertain for generations to come. This multi-day event includes screenings, panel discussions, lectures, professional displays and even a guided tour of the area. If you’re a film buff or one that wants to be, this is THE event of the year for you. For more fall events in and around Bishop, be sure to check out their Fabulous Fall Fun In The Eastern Sierra.

27th Annual Oakhurst Fall Festival

Oakhurst – October 11th – 13th

Photo by: Steve Montalto – Image Appears Courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

This “Funtober” festival has undergone many forms over its 27-year history. But at its core, it’s always been a way to celebrate the fantastic fall weather in the area. For the 2018 edition, expect a fantastic selection of local wines, hand-crafted brews and a wide variety of delicious eats from the region’s renowned restaurants and chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. The Oakhurst Fall Festival provides something for everyone with thrilling midway rides for all ages, a Jedi Training for Padawans, an Elvis stage show, character meet ‘n greets, a Where’s Woody Scavenger Hunt, lots of vendors, and live entertainment each day. It’s a great way to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather in a beautiful park setting in the town of Oakhurst.

Even though the summer crowds have waned, it doesn’t mean the fun has stopped. Instead, this is THE time to visit the High Sierra. It’s the season for local’s AND visitors alike to enjoy the peace, tranquility and numerous fall festivals of the High Sierra.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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