Fresno County communities to honor legacy of legendary outlaw Joaquin Murrieta

A decades-old tradition returns to the Valley this weekend, as residents ride horses and march in memory of Joaquin Murrieta.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Rural communities in Western Fresno County are preparing to celebrate the legacy of Joaquin Murrieta while advocating for social and economic needs.

Many believe the legendary outlaw was killed in Fresno County in 1853.

"It's so important that the families in the communities understand that here in the San Joaquin Valley we have a rich history that Murrieta is the most talked-about 49er of all time," says Eliseo Gamino, the president of the Central Valley Leadership Roundtable.

Murrieta was also called the Robin Hood of the West. The stories about his past come with questions and controversy, but Gamino sees him as someone who stood up and took action.

"He became a legend when he and his wife were beaten, horsewhipped so he took matters into his own hands when the authorities at the time failed to seek these miners that did that."

Now Murrieta serves as an inspiration to people in Firebaugh and Mendota to address issues important to their communities.

"Water, education and immigration reform is so important. We have a lot of agricultural essential workers," says Gamino.

This weekend, residents will also honor the lives lost during the pandemic when they come together for a special journey Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

The march and horseback ride will start in Firebaugh, it will be an 8-mile stretch to Lozano Park in Mendota. After a few hours, the horseback ride will continue for 23 miles down Derrick Avenue.

"The ride will continue towards three rocks. There is going to be a big celebration and display of horsemanship and music, food, and it's just a lot of family fun," says Gamino.

On Sunday, the ride continues at around 10 am from three rocks to the Halfway Store and back.

14-year-old Angel and his brother and father have joined the trail for over a decade.

Firebaugh's mayor says it's a source of the price that helps shine a light on history.

"We want this to be able to grow and invite more riders and more towns. Maybe we can extend the length of the town and hopefully gets bigger and better," says Freddy Valdez.

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