In looking back since 1999 when the The Kaweah Commonwealth first began its annual readers’ poll, it has become the one issue where all the amenities and the best-kept-secret places to recreate and sightsee have been revealed and celebrated. Along the way, businesses have come and gone, and even the poll itself has changed, as well as who participates and seizes the opportunity for some good-natured free publicity and well-deserved accolades.
Some of the early categories and votes reveal two important trends: (1) Among many who have tried to launch businesses here, only the hardest-working fortunate few have succeeded, and (2) When it comes to the enduring attractions of Kaweah Country no matter how much the times have changed amenities like General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock, Crescent Meadow, Giant Forest, and the Mineral King Road remain timeless sights to behold and experience.
In fact, in a digital world where so many only see these wonders as images on a flat screen, experiencing these scenic wonders in person is arguably better than ever. So celebrate the Best of Kaweah Country in 2014 and make a promise to yourself to enjoy more of all that’s BEST right here in Kaweah Country – the place we all live, work, or visit.
The results of the early years’ polls are chock full of compelling information that one day will make an interesting read on at least one thing we’ve been doing in this town since 1890 when Sequoia National Park was created: What essential services are needed to serve the tourists who visit here in a steady stream from all over the world?
In the inaugural poll (1999), among the winners in at least one category of those are still in business here are Anne Lang’s Emporium, Gateway Restaurant and Lodge, River View, Sequoia Cider Mill Restaurant, Serrano’s (now Casa Mendoza), Pizza Factory, We Three Restaurant and Bakery, Plantation Bed and Breakfast, Reimer’s Candies, Village Market, The Thingerie, Lazy J Ranch Motel, Sequoia Motel, and Three Rivers Drug.
No longer here from 1999: Naturedome (romantic dining), Main Fork Bistro (seafood), Café Raven (salad), The Cabin (coffee), Whitewater Contemporary Arts and Gallery 198 (local art), Bullene Vineyards (wine), the Indian Pizza and Family Restaurant (place to shoot pool), and Three Rivers Golf Course.
And in the category of BEST Place to Close That Shouldn’t Have (1999): Shoshone Inn.
Come on, all you entrepreneurs out there. It’s time to reopen the Shoshone Inn, Three Rivers Golf Course, and The Indian. Or hasn’t anybody noticed that the 2014 season is setting new records for the local tourist-driven economy?
Now add to the mix new favorites like Sierra Subs and Salads, Colors, Antoinette’s, Rio Sierra, Three Rivers Mercantile, Sequoia RV Ranch, Village Antiques, River’s Edge Boutique, Subway, and Ol’ Buckaroo. This group represents a substantial reinvestment in the future of Kaweah Country — one of the last BEST places on the planet.
Here are all the 2014 winners:
Family Dining: Pizza Factory
Romantic Dining: The Gateway Restaurant
Outdoor Dining: River View
Best Bang For Your Buck: Subway
Place to Go When Someone Else Pays: Gateway
Breakfast: We Three Restaurant and Bakery
Vegetarian/Vegan: Sierra Subs
Mexican Food: Casa Mendoza
Pizza: Pizza Factory
Sandwich: Sierra Subs & Salads
Salad: Sierra Subs
Baked Goods: We Three Bakery
Burger: Ol’ Buckaroo
Steak: Sequoia Cider Mill
Takeout: Sierra Subs
Barbecue: Sequoia Cider Mill
Ice Cream: Reimer’s
Creative Menu: Sierra Subs
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
Souvenirs: Three Rivers Drug & Gifts
Outdoor Gear: Three Rivers Mercantile
Locally Grown Food: Flora Bella Farm
Bargain Buy: The Thingerie
Art: Colors Gallery
Gifts: The Art Co-Op / Colors Gallery
Antiques: Village Antiques
Clothing: River’s Edge Boutique
Jewelry: The Art Co-Op / Colors Gallery
Home Goods: Three Rivers Mercantile
Community Activist / Volunteer: Dennis Villavicencio
Business That Gives Back: Sequoia Village Inn
Environmentally Conscious Business: Buckeye Tree Lodge
SPENDING THE NIGHT
Family Lodging: Buckeye Tree Lodge
Bed & Breakfast: Plantation Bed & Breakfast
Vacation Home: River Villa
Rustic Cabin: Silver City
Room With a View: Rio Sierra Riverhouse
Amenities: Buckeye Tree Lodge
Place to Meet People: Sequoia National Park
Local Band: High Sierra Jazz Band
Local Event: 1st Saturday
Indoor Entertainment Venue: River View
Outdoor Entertainment Venue: Lions Roping Arena
Place to Be on a Saturday Night: River View
Day Trip For a Tourist: Giant Forest
Jaw-Dropping Drive: Mineral King Road
National Park Must-See: Big Trees / General Sherman Tree
Three Rivers Can’t Miss: 1st Saturday
Hiking Trail: Moro Rock
Bike Ride: BLM-Salt Creek
Picnic Spot: Crescent Meadow
Campground: Sequoia RV Ranch
Place to Take the Kids: Kaweah River
Way to Tour Without Your Car: Sequoia Sightseeing Tours