Maybe you’ve never heard about Tulare. If you live in the Central Valley, you know it very well, but for Southern and Northern Californians it isn’t on their radar quite as much. Tulare would be just another road stop or whiz-by on that long, lonesome highway if you let it. But for those of us who love milk and dairy products, love fruits such as grapes, Navel oranges, pistachios, nectarines and Freestone peaches, and love to eat fresh, why not stop and get the products as fresh as they come in local restaurants, at grocers or at a farmers market held at Tower Square? Surrounding cities with additional farmers markets include Visalia, Earlimart, Porterville, Lindsay, Dinuba and Woodlake (see full list and dates at tastetularecounty.org).
If you’ve driven between L.A. and Sequoia National Park, you’ve probably passed through Tulare. Located along California Highway 99 which runs parallel to I-5 in California’s Central Valley, look for the vintage planes sitting next to the road. Two military aircraft, a World War II B-17 Bomber, named for Tulare’s General Maurice Preston, and a Vietnam era F-4 Phantom honoring Tulare County residents killed in action during the Vietnam War, are unique and unforgettable landmarks. They distinguish the city from the miles of grassy fields, cattle and crops along “99″ between Bakersfield and Sacramento.
What defines Tulare is its importance in the food chain. Tulare is the epi-center of agriculture and it is where the state of Wisconsin can point its finger to complain about why California beat their state out as top milk producer. The nation’s largest single-site dairy complex is in Tulare, where a significant portion of Tulare County’s 342,600 dairy cows reside. Those cows create 8.9 billion pounds of milk each year!
Be sure to stop and see the Antique Farm Equipment Museum (agventures.internationalagricenter.com), part of International Agri-Center complex. In addition to the museum and AgVentures! Learning Center open to the public, the complex hosts the World Ag Expo and California Antique Farm Equipment Show.