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The little town big on murals

Located in the middle of California's fertile San Joaquin Valley,  the tiny town of Exeter, California, is big on murals and friendly hospitality. Besides being centrally located between Los Angeles (230 miles) and San Francisco (280 miles) Exeter is also conveniently located near two of our most majestic national parks ---  Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Yosemite.

There are no campgrounds in Exeter (population 7276) but nearby in Visalia, Tulare, Lemoncove, or Three Rivers are plenty of campsites. We were camped behind the Visalia Elk's Lodge with full-timing friends, Judy and Cec. They are the ones who took us to Exeter. We never would have known about this delightful town otherwise.

Surrounded with citrus groves, vineyards, plum, peach, nectarine and walnut orchards and specialty produce, the Murals celebrate a very rich harvest.

After a fire burned the building at the corner of Pine and E streets local artists (Colleen Mitchell-Veyna and Morgan Mc Call) painted the first mural which is titled Orange Harvest. I couldn't get the whole mural in one picture, but it is big and beautiful. The corner lot is now a little park. Unfortunately the day we were there a lot of digging was going on in the park because of a water leak. Some of the equuipment had moved out of the way after we ate lunch so I was able to get the picture on the left and retouch the foreground a bit. 

Just around the corner were the two murals that went together to form the picture titled Packing Ladies which was also painted by Colleen Mitchell-Veyna. The picture shows local ladies (circa 1950) packing and grading oranges. 

Tables and chairs in front of the Packing Ladies mural are for the patrons of the delightful Wildflower Cafe where we ate lunch. The salads looked wonderful especially the Oriental chicken salad which is what Judy ordered. The rest of us ordered sandwiches. They use a nice order card where you choose the kind of bread, fillings and toppings to design the sandwich of your choice. The list of choices was very complete; I can't imagine that anything that would be good on a sandwich was left off that list.

The front of the Cafe                     Cec, Judy and Ron  in the back garden.
Everything was terrific. Especially the staff.

Sheldon, Catherine, Courtney and Lisa Kay     Yummy deserts we didn't have room for.

 Catherine said the ice cream was good too. 

Murals are Painted on big walls and little walls; windows are painted over and murals are tucked in between stores. There's even a mural showing a map of the murals and other non mural paintings in town.

1)Fourth of July    2) map of murals    3) Cec likes parfaits 

         Yokuts Harvest                              Leta and Hawtoy-Future Generation

Yokuts Harvest depicts the agrarian lifestyle of the localYokuts Indians collecting sour berries. I liked the way the Indian woman seems to have stepped out of the scene and onto the sidewalk. Leta and Hawtoy shows two local children standing in front of the "End of the Trail" sculpture. It is meant to compare the sense of despair shown in the sculpture with the sense of hope shown in the children's eyes. 

The Emperor Grape Festival mural was so big I couldn't capture it all.

Irrigation from foundry to field even has a real water valve attached to the mural. 
Notice the flowers painted around the florist's door. 

Fruit labels and an old black and white mural which looks like an old snap shot.

I don't know the name of this one; we all liked the car which isn't part of the art.

Poppies and Lupine with Cec and Judy.

And there is more to Exeter than murals and lunch. 
The shopping is great.

The Mercantile                   Rosemary & Thyme

All of the stores in Exeter are alive and well. We especially liked the little shop behind the Wildflower Cafe. Rosemary and Thyme is a sweet smelling gift shop; she sells lots of things relating to gardens and fragrances. The owner also cultivates a lovely little garden in front of the shop which makes for a nice background for the tables in the back of the Wildflower Cafe.

Stop in the Olde Towne Exchange at 117 E Pine Street before you begin your tour of the town and pick up the Mural Map and Information pamphlet. There is a little something written about most of the murals and for fun nearly every mural has some hidden objects in them. Looking for the hidden pictures adds a little fun to the day. 

And there is usually a work of art in progress. Although we didn't see the work being done, we did see the beginnings of another wonderful mural. For more information on the activities and festivals, check out their web site at www.exeter-ca.com or call the chamber of commerce at 559-592-2919.

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