Conejo Valley Days entertains about 26,000 visitors each year over four days. With carnival rides, live entertainment, local vendors, arts & crafts, games, food and wonderful community involvement; it is truly a long-standing celebration perfect for the entire family.
The small group of friends and neighbors who started Conejo Valley Days grew into a network of clubs, organizations, charities, sponsors and volunteers. Conejo Valley Days provides a great source of fundraising for so many worthy services and projects in our community.
In the late 40s, at the old Jungleland compound (now the site of the Civic Arts Plaza), Conejo Valley Days was a “Community Circus” according to an article in the Oak Post Newspaper. Special appearances by “moving picture actors” and the crowning of a Circus Queen made the event a draw and success.
CVD Parade in 1965. Image courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens, Thousand Oaks Library.
The event officially became known as “Conejo Valley Days” in 1956. In 1957, a Conejo Valley Days parade was added to the festivities starting at Conejo School Road and ending at Jungleland. It was joked that more people were in the parade than were watching. Famed lion tamer Mabel Stark, who appeared at Jungleland, was named Grand Marshal. Believe it or not, they even had Camel races! According to early newspaper articles, small groups worked fundraising food booths to raise money for a “much-needed speaker system for the whole town to use.”
CVD Rodeo 1982. Image courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens, Thousand Oaks Library.
As it grew, Conejo Valley Days added more attractions including the first Whiskeroo Contest (38 bearded and mustachioed gents entered) and a Ladies Western Dress Contest where 31 ladies put on their Western best. A BBQ was added to feed the crowds and help raise dollars for local causes.
A CVD Stage Coach Race Entry. Image courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens, Thousand Oaks Library.
At this point, Conejo Valley Days, as an annual fundraising event for the community, was well on its way with leadership provided by local business people, nonprofit groups and long-time residents including stunt woman and local legend Donna “Conejo” Fargo. With proceeds from the annual celebration, CVD leaders decided the community needed a park. Local residents, Mr. and Mrs. Otto Erbes, donated the land for Estella Park, located in the heart of downtown Thousand Oaks (on Erbes Rd.) which is still enjoyed today by community residents.
TV Star, Ward Bond, and his wagon train led the Conejo Valley Days Parade in 1958, and community booths and rides were added to the annual festivities. The Honorary Mayor’s Race was launched in 1960 with local residents vying for the title by raising dollars for charity. The Junior Women’s Club saw their candidate, Bob Talley, named the first “Honorary Mayor” of Conejo Valley Days. This time, the dollars were earmarked for a community recreation center. The land was donated by the Janss family with materials and labor donated or provided at cost. Today’s residents know it as the Conejo Community Center at Dover and Hendrix. The Mayoral race changed names to the Grand Marshal Race for Charity when the City of Thousand Oaks incorporated.
In 1972, for the 16th Annual Conejo Valley Days, a new location was selected–between Dusenberg and Pierce Arrow Drives–now the Thousand Oaks Auto Mall. By the 1980s, CVD had grown to the point it needed a larger location. With support and help from the Conejo Park and Recreation Department, CVD moved to Conejo Creek Park South on Janss Rd. where it is still held today.
The reins of Conejo Valley Days moved to the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce in 1963, which coordinated the event until 1994, when the Chamber invited local clubs and organizations to once again become the moving force behind the event. The Conejo Valley Activities Committee was born under the leadership of many and ran CVD until 2011.
In 2012, Frank Akrey, Conejo Valley businessperson and long-time CVD supporter and volunteer, assumed financial and operational responsibilities for Conejo Valley Days. Frank’s family has lived in Thousand Oaks since 1939. “Growing up in Thousand Oaks with friends and family is a great gift,” says Frank. “We’re continuing the hometown spirit by working hard to make Conejo Valley Days the best ever. CVD will always be part of our area’s tradition and heritage.”
Great entertainment, rides, food and just a great place to hang out–whether you’re a teen, family with kids or adult–there’s something for everyone.
See you at CVD!