A History of ”Buckboard Days”

In 1970, the Rowland Heights Junior Women’s Club and Rowland Heights Woman’s Clubs Federated, sponsored an annual 3-day festival known as Buckboard Days as a major fundraiser for both clubs.  The funds were used for the Clubs’ charitable projects in Rowland Heights.  Scholarships for needy youth (Seniors), a reading lab & books for the school district (which had just been formed as Rowland Unified), holiday food baskets, Meals on Wheels for senior citizens, a campaign to get a book mobile route followed by a push for a ‘real’ library, letter-writing & solicitations for parks in Rowland Heights, annual rabies clinics, clean-up Rowland Heights, aid to Special Education students & Special Olympics, clothes closet for low income, and a $2.00 club membership to the RHCCC, etc. 

Community youth groups and civic organizations were given the opportunity to raise funds as well by selling an allotted number of carnival tickets to obtain a free booth at the festival. .  The name Buckboard Days covers the time span and changes that have taken place since the first settlers arrived.  Long-time area residents have always been honored and recognized and are especially invited to participate.  John Rowland IV, the Allen’s, the Pupey’s, the Ybarra’s, Jake Santar, Toni Yorba, the Airey’s, the Bourdet’s and many others participated and rode in the Parade.

Keep in mind, this was a bedroom community, somewhat isolated without a freeway, and nothing to really pull the community together.  To overcome community apathy, instill a sense of pride and community spirit and to increase attendance and add to the festivities of Buckboard Days Carnival & Festival, it was decided to add a parade which started in Farjardo Park, went east on 5th Avenue disbanding into the Festival area at Rowland Plaza.  This was the only annual community-wide event involving children and adults of all ages as well as dogs and horses.  It hasn’t been easy to keep the tradition going!

For a number of years, Rowland High School held their Band Competition and Field Show in conjunction with Buckboard Days where they raised $18,000 to $22,000.  A sanctioned parade (judged by SCSBOA officials) brought approximately 25-35 bands in the Parade from all over Southern California making this a major annual community event.  Bands came from as far away as San Diego, Victorville, Santa Barbara, etc.  The Rose Parade Motorcade of the CHP also led the parade down Colima Road.  The Navy brought their huge battleship model several years and the Marine Band made special appearances.  A variety of radio d.j.’s, TV & motion picture actors/actresses have been Grand Marshals.

The Junior’s Club disbanded in the 80’s and the Woman’s Club took over the entire festival for about 10-12 years until they also disbanded.  About 1997 or 1998, some of these same people had formed the Schabarum Regional Park Support Foundation and they took over the sponsorship of the event as a means to publicize the Foundation, with any proceeds going to upgrade and improve the park facilities.  All funds were used by the park foundation for that purpose.  However, the size of the event had been scaled down and the carnival was not always held.  With the increased traffic and growth of Rowland Heights, it became harder to find a location for the carnival (which was the source for the fundraiser) so it was not always possible to hold the carnival, but the parade has always been held (except one year it was rained out).

Buckboard Days Parade has always been put on with minimum cost to the sponsoring organization.  For years the Kiwanis Club of Walnut Valley donated the trophies, the Rotary Club donated the divisional banners, the ladies sewed the large name banner that led off the parade.  A one-day insurance policy has always been used by the sponsoring organization.  Without a carnival to raise funds, a $25.00 fee for commercial or business entries was charged to help defray expenses, but the majority of the entries were youth or civic groups, schools, and churches so this fee only brought in a small amount.  Newspaper advertising, postage, paper, printing of letters & flyers were costs in addition to the insurance. 

For the last few years, the Rowland Heights Parade Committee, a non-profit 501 c(3) made up of community volunteers, has coordinated the parade.  Businesses and organizations have supported the parade each year through donations.   Starting in 2002, the Committee joined with Rowland Council PTA to hold a Fall Festival with entertainment, crafts and food booths.

Over the years, various TV & radio celebrities, VIP’s and dignitaries and have served as Grand Marshal or Honorary Grand Marshal, with Supervisor Don Knabe in 1998, Sheriff Capt. Alex Lim in 2000 and Capt. Lynn Jones of CHP in 2001.   In 2006, the theme was “Our Western Heritage”, reflecting back on the spirit of the Old West and the settlers who founded our community. Our Grand Marshals that year were the Rowland Family, descendants of the original John Rowland who along with William Workman, settled this area.