Raymond General celebrates centennial Saturday

May 27, 2014 

A free fun-filled day for the whole family is promised as the Raymond General will host a huge "100 Year Jubilee" this Saturday.

There'll be plenty of nostalgia with exciting wild west gunfighters, a covered wagon, and history tours, along with plenty of classic cars on display, endless fun for children, and 'treasures' to be bought.

Current owners of the historic store are Chad and Teri Young, who purchased it about four years ago.

The story of the Raymond General actually starts more than 100 years ago. The lots the store sits on were purchased for $1 about 1890 by William Downey who built a thriving general store on the site. Early history says he purchased some of the goods for his store from a "character" Aunt Joe who is believed to have run a house of ill-repute in the red light district, which is near where the county maintenance yard is today. Downey and his son ran it from then until Mr. Dapelo and Mr. Luke bought it in 1910.

In 1914 Nelson Luke bought out his partner Dapelo and rebuilt the store into what it is today, and Saturday's "100 Year Jubilee" celebrates this anniversary. The Raymond Museum displays Luke's ledger listing all of the construction bills and supplies. Luke's General Store was the heart of its small town community.

As a classic mercantile, the store carried all the basic provisions for rural life in the early 1900s, from canned goods and fresh meats to fabric, hardware supplies and feed. After Nelson Luke died, his widow, Katherine Luke ran the store. Sadly her son died the last day of WWII in 1945 and she fell into a deep depression, and committed suicide. The store was closed in 1947.

The General Store sat vacant for many years until it was re-opened around 1962 by Madeline Shull, who was well-known in the area. The store became Shull's General.

About 1976 Tom and Sue Sawyer purchased it and renamed it The Raymond General. The Sawyers added a kitchen allowing the store to serve meals. While it's changed hands a few more times since, this name has stuck.

Teri Young has been devoted to the store since she started working there as a teenager growing up in Raymond and was fortunate to be able to purchase The General in 2010. It currently features a small grocery market that's vital to area residents, a historic bar and a completely modernized kitchen offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in a quaint café setting.

The store generously supports and/or hosts many community events including the Volunteer Fireman's Spaghetti Feed, Trunk or Treat, Christmas Tree Lighting and The Raymond Parade. However, Chad and Teri have outdone themselves with the Jubilee.

The day kicks off at 9 a.m. with the opening of the Raymond Trading Day with plenty of treasures for all. It features antiques and arts & crafts for sale along with stockpiles of flea market finds from area Raymond attics and barns.

The first-ever Raymond Classic Car Show opens at 10 a.m. Car enthusiasts from Madera County and surrounding areas are gathering to show off their shiny four-wheeled works of art and compete for trophies and prizes. Next to the car show is the Beer Garden, where there will be a mouthwatering barbecue available.

Walking history tours also start at 10 a.m. Volunteers from the Raymond Museum will lead fascinating walks through the small town revealing fun facts about its pioneer beginning as well as sharing old secrets and a few sordid details.

At 11 a.m. the free children's carnival opens with old-time games and crafts till 3 p.m. In the craft booth little cowboys and cowgirls can make their very own stick horse to ride in races and then take the pony home. The buckaroos can also decorate a western vest to celebrate the day in style.

Games, with tons of prizes, will run though the day and features classics like egg tosses, sack and three legged races and much more.

The grand finale will be a pie eating contests ($1 donation for pie suggested).

"Moms and dads can join in the fun too with some of the games also open to adults," Teri said. "And if the kiddos still have a free minute, there will be face painting and a bounce house."

And what's a birthday without cake?

"Thanks to Bob and Carylin Miller, this birthday cake will be spectacular," Teri said. "Carylin is baking a replica cake duplicating all the details of The Raymond General building. Everyone will enjoy both viewing and eating this cool cake."

At 3 p.m. the day concludes with everyone participating in a centennial release of 100 balloons.

The Jubilee runs 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and there is no admission charge. Details: (559) 689-3313.

"100 Year Jubilee" schedule of events:

Trading Days Set up 7 a.m. - Show 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Classic Car Show Arrive 9 a.m. - Show 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

BBQ & Beer Garden 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

History Walking Tours - 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Courtesy of the Raymond Museum)

Free Kids Games & Crafts - 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Free Bounce house - 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Wild West Gunfighters - Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m.

Free Centennial Cake and Balloon Release - 3 p.m.

Live music in the bar (adults only) 4 - 8 p.m.

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