Once the world's "Hay Shipping Capital," Gilbert has come a long way from its early days when there were more hay fields than people within its borders. Today, Gilbert is the sixth largest city in Arizona. Between 1980 and 2010, it gained over 200,000 residents. This growth means that there are many great things to do in Gilbert, ranging from natural areas to nightlife. However, the city hasn't lost touch with its agricultural roots, as evidenced by its designation as one of the top five "foodie neighborhoods" in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Gilbert's Farms and Fields
Gilbert was founded by a prosperous man named William Gilbert. Gilbert, a primary landowner in the area, made the critical decision in the early 1900s to sell some of his property to a rail company for the construction of the Arizona Eastern Railway. The railroad, which was built in 1902, provided a direct and efficient means of transportation from Phoenix to the city of Florence, AZ. As with other areas in the Southwest, the arrival of the railway brought more people and products into Gilbert. By 1910, there were enough citizens to warrant the establishment of the town's first grocery store. Two years later, Gilbert had its own post office.
As the town of Gilbert developed, its economy became more defined. The combination of good weather and the availability of large tracts of land were useful for farming and agriculture. Many of the earliest residents began growing hay and grain during the first decade of the 1900s. From 1911 to the 1920s, the city's hay production was so great that it was the biggest hay exporter in the world. The arrival of the railway helped ship large quantities of hay out of Gilbert, while the construction of several large canals and the Roosevelt Dam brought critical supplies of water to the city.
By the 1970s, Gilbert had a much larger population size, which prompted the construction of a town center to foster a sense of community. Today, that town center is still a source of pride for residents. It is also a main attraction for visitors.
Gilbert's Annual Events
Over the years, Gilbert has increasingly added many events to its calendar. These events, which range from farmers markets to cultural festivals, are now much-anticipated activities for residents and visitors alike.
Along with blooming flowers, Gilbert's residents look forward to the start of spring for another reason, local farmers markets. Two of the largest and most diverse are the Agritopia and the Gilbert markets. The Agritopia Farmers Market begins in late March. Along with organic produce, it offers a CSA and live music. The Gilbert Farmers Market has between 60 and 100 vendors depending on the season. Along with produce and homemade goods, the event features food trucks, live entertainment, and games.
Global Village Festival
Held in April each year, the Global Village Festival intends to raise awareness of the area's diversity in a fun and festive manner. Traditional foods, children's activities, and a combination of traditional and contemporary music and dances are part of the fun. The event coincides with Bike Valley month, which is a regional initiative to encourage people to ride their bikes instead of driving. Bicycle parking and prizes are offered at the Global Village Festival for people who arrive by bicycle.
Main Attractions in Gilbert
Along with its annual festivals, Gilbert has many unbeatable sights to see and places to visit throughout the year.
The Heritage District is one of Gilbert's most happening places. The district culminates the town center, and along with nightlife, it is known primarily for its numerous restaurants, including some award-winning establishments. Pet-friendly and family-friendly establishments make the district especially popular.
Stars, dinosaurs, and wildlife are all appealing components of the Riparian Preserve, which is one of the most popular natural areas in the Phoenix metro area. The preserve, located at Water Ranch, features hiking and equestrian trails along with a dig site where people can search for dinosaur bones. The preserve is known for its extraordinary bird-watching opportunities with more than 250 species. There is also an astronomy observatory for public use.
While dried grass was vital to Gilbert's economy in the past, it is not part of the city's present. If your yard is looking more like hay bale material than a healthy, well-maintained property, we can help. Call on Lawn Love, your local lawn care experts to turn your yard from drab to fabulous in no time