Historic Raymond General celebrates 100 years

On Saturday, May 31, The Raymond General will host its huge 100 Year Jubilee that promises a free fun-filled day for the whole family. There’ll be endless fun for the kids, lots of trick classic cars to see, treasures bought and sold, and plenty of nostalgia with history tours, wild west gunfighters and a covered wagon. The General is inviting everyone, locals and visitors alike, to come join the fun.

The story of the Raymond General actually starts more than 100 years ago. The lots the store sits on were purchased for one dollar about 1890 by William Downey who built a thriving general store on the site. Fun 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 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. The 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 it carried all the basic provisions for rural life in the early 1900’s, from canned goods and fresh meats to fabric, hardware 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. She committed suicide and the store was closed in 1947.

The General Store sat vacant for many years until it was re-opened around 1962 by Madeline Schull who was well known in the area and the store became Schull’s General. About 1976 Tom and Sue Sawyer purchased it and renamed it The Raymond General. While it’s changed hands a few more times since this name has stuck. The Sawyers also added a kitchen allowing the store to serve meals.

The current owners are Chad and Teri Young. Teri has been devoted to the store since she started working there as a young 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 local rural residents, a historic bar and a completely modernized kitchen offering breakfast, lunch and dinner in a quaint café setting. The Raymond General 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.

All the bases are covered to provide old-fashioned good times for everyone in the family and best of all it’s free. The day kicks off at 9 a.m. with the opening of the Raymond Trading Day chock full of treasures. It features antiques and arts & crafts for sale along with stockpiles of flea market finds from local Raymond attics and barns.

Next up is the first Ever Raymond Classic Car Show opening 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. Right 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 thru the small town revealing fun facts about its pioneer beginning as well as sharing old secrets and sometimes sordid details.

But, the most action packed day will be for kids of all ages. At 11 a.m. the free 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 of course, will run though the day and features classics like egg tosses, sack and three legged races and etc. Needless to say the grand finale will be what else but 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. And if the kiddos still have a free minute, there’s face painting and a bounce house!

And what’s a birthday without cake? Thanks to Bob & Carylin Miller this birthday cake will be spectacular. Carylin is baking a replica cake duplicating all the details of The Raymond General building. Enjoy both viewing and eating this cool cake. At 3 p.m. the day concludes everyone participating in a centennial release of 100 balloons followed immediately by cake! A great day should be had by all.

The Jubilee runs 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and there is no admission charge. Raymond is located on Road 600, two miles southwest of Road 415 and is 30 minutes from Madera, Oakhurst & Mariposa. For more info call 559-689-3313

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 Tour 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 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Raymond General Store