The Resurgence of Fallbrook

Donna J Weaver - Fallbrook Source Book 9

The Fallbrook community is an area hidden in the hills of inland North San Diego County and because of that is an attraction for those who want to get away from the fast-paced, sometimes complex life in a heavy populated part of Southern California.  With the first settlers, the Reche family, coming to this location in 1869 from an area known as Fall Brook, Pennsylvania, many families have followed suit to pursue their happiness.  For many years, Fallbrook was relatively unknown and rarely visited by people from nearby cities until it became a place for agricultural development, retirement living with open spaces, and outdoor activities such as hiking, etc.

Fallbrook has been known as the Avocado Capital of the World due to the many groves of Avocado trees, but there many other varieties of agriculture that abound in this area.  History abounds here too, such as the early railroad coming into Fallbrook bringing many interesting people and personalities.  Let’s not forget the Art community that has many nationally known artists that live and teach here at the Art School with an abundance of art on display both in public places and heavily-visited art exhibits and shows.

Over the years the Fallbrook community has lived in relative obscurity and the people were content with letting “time” pass it by while the residents enjoyed a good life.  Businesses were established only to serve the community needs and there was no interest in bringing large companies into the area nor were companies interested because it appeared to be just a quiet, agricultural-focused community.

However, in the 1970’s and 1980’s changes were taking place such as investments in Avocado groves, purchases of large estates for retirement, and a communal spirit for the growth of families.  Events such as the Avocado and Wine Festival started(now known as the Avocado Festival) and, a few years earlier, the Christmas Parade began putting Fallbrook on the map, at least in North County San Diego.  Today the Avocado Festival attracts from 70,000 to 100,000 people on a single day and the Christmas Parade brings in 30,000 to 40,000 people.  During this time, many new businesses flourished but still the community retained its’ “hometown” feel and change started, but at a slow pace, which was fine with most residents.

Interestingly, the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce was started sometime in the 1920’s but officially registered as a non-profit corporation in 1949.  Early on there was not a strong need for a Chamber of Commerce to represent the businesses and not a lot of competition.

What has changed since the 1970’s and 80’s?  Fallbrook is still that relatively unknown community in North San Diego County but with the age of the internet, GPS, and other methods of discovery, Fallbrook is slowly emerging as a place for visitors to come to experience that time in life when things were slower-paced and somewhat “go back in time”.  Fallbrook has responded to this increased “visibility” by showcasing some of these jewels such as exquisite Art shows highlighted by those same nationally known artists, enhancing the natural beauty of the area with showcasing the beautifully landscaped gardens of the Grand Tradition and wedding venue, and the growth of businesses to serve the increased visitors including excellent and unique restaurants.

The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce has relocated its’ office to take full advantage of the resurgence of Fallbrook to Alvarado and Main.  Since Fallbrook is unincorporated, there is no local government; therefore, the Chamber has become the “hub” of community events and information for the people including an excellent relationship with North County organizations and San Diego County government.  Just in 2011, the newest County Library was dedicated with many art exhibits and other amenities making it the most modern library in the country, winning several prestigious architectural awards.

There are plans by the Chamber this year to expand its’ Visitor Center operations by being open 7 days a week (already in operation) and putting in an application for a California Welcome Center located near highway 76 and interstate 15 interchange.  There are many new businesses opening with a renewed confidence in the economy.  Not only on Main Avenue, but in nearby communities including Bonsall, and a number of home-based operations ready to take advantage of the internet opportunities.

Where do we go from here?  We need to take full advantage of the opportunity ahead of us.  Fallbrook is an ideal location for access from Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, the weather that can’t be beat, and a small-town atmosphere that visitors and residents enjoy alike.  There are many things to do when in Fallbrook such as hiking or biking the many miles of trails, spend a few hours at the Grand Tradition gardens, browse some of the long-established shops in the Historic downtown section, tour the Historical and Gem & Mineral Museums and then enjoy some of the excellent restaurants.  You never know, you might meet one those nationally-known artists that live in Fallbrook.

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