Every year, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, our country celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans. In Camarillo, that rich heritage is honored year-round thanks to the lasting legacy of our founder, Adolfo Camarillo, remembered as the “Last Spanish Don,” and the many other families who first called Camarillo home.
Nestled in the heart of Camarillo, Don Adolfo’s stunning Camarillo Ranch is lovingly maintained by a nonprofit foundation and docents who lead weekly tours of the classic Queen Anne Victorian and surrounding gardens. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rancho lifestyle of the late 1800s every Saturday and Sunday, weaving their way through the home’s 15 rooms while listening to stories about Don Adolfo, Doña Isabela, and their children and grandchildren.
The Camarillo family’s lasting legacy
Adolfo Camarillo was born on October 28, 1864 in his family’s adobe home in Ventura, the eldest son of Juan Camarillo, Sr. and Martina Hernandez. When his father died in 1880, 16-year-old Adolfo Camarillo took over the nearly 10,000-acre Rancho Calleguas (known today as Camarillo Ranch). He expanded the traditional cattle ranch into a thriving agricultural business, growing lima beans, walnuts, citrus, and other crops.
Adolfo was known to be a generous man. Employees living on the property were given land on which to grow their own crops and encouraged to sell leftover food to supplement their income. Additionally, when the Southern Pacific Railroad was looking to expand in 1899, Adolfo allowed the company to lay tracks on his land and establish a train depot, which was called “Camarillo.”
In 1910, Adolfo and his brother Juan helped found the original townsite of Camarillo around St. Mary Magdalen Chapel. Adolfo was deeply passionate about education and his community. He went on to serve as a member of dozens of organizations, such as the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Camarillo, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, and Ventura County Fair Board.
The actual City of Camarillo wasn’t incorporated until 1964, several years after Don Adolfo passed away at the age of 94. That same year, the city launched the first-ever Camarillo Fiesta in honor of Adolfo Camarillo’s birthday on Oct. 28 and the city’s birthday on Oct. 29. Strolling down Ventura Boulevard, you can see the influence of the early rancheros in the sun-drenched Spanish architecture of historic buildings in Camarillo Old Town and the nearby St. Mary Magdalen Chapel. His legacy still lives on today.
Camarillo Fiesta and Adolfo Camarillo Birthday Celebration
Known to be a warm and gracious host, Adolfo loved to throw festivities for friends, family and the local community. Today, his hospitable legacy lives on with the annual Camarillo Fiesta. This event has transformed into the ultimate summer block party with food, live entertainment, a carnival, and classic car show. Grab your friends and family and join us in 2022 at the next Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair in Camarillo Old Town!
Camarillo celebrates its namesakes’ birthday in a big way with Adolfo Camarillo’s Birthday Celebration. This event is held each year at the Camarillo Ranch. Although this year’s festivities are cancelled due to COVID-19, make sure to mark your calendar for October 2022. Festivities usually include live performances by ballet folklorico and mariachi groups, as well as an appearance by the legendary Camarillo White Horses, face painting, food trucks, and more!
More Special Events During Hispanic Heritage Month 2021
Art and history lovers won’t want to miss Huelga! Photographs from the Frontlines by Jorge Corralego showing through Oct. 31 at the Museum of Ventura County. This inspiring photography exhibit focuses on the 1970s labor strikes and features memorabilia from Jorge Corralejo, a local activist and civic leader. Visitors will get an up-close-and-personal look at Jorge’s time with United Farm Workers working alongside Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
On Oct. 2, the City of Camarillo Public Library will host a virtual book talk with author Dr. Kathleen Contreras. During this fun, interactive session, Contreras will read her bilingual book, Braids/Trencitas and answer questions from families.
Ready to celebrate Camarillo’s Hispanic heritage? Start planning your trip!