The students are back in school, the promise of fall looms, and the dog days of summer are behind us—welcome, September! The unofficial start of autumn in Butte County is a reinvigorating time in the county, chock full of local activities for residents and visitors alike.
Whether it’s settling in for some wings and a beer for the start the fall sports seasons or bringing the family along for community events, September provides a bounty of fun, engaging activities.
Paradise’s program, perennially a powerhouse in the Northern Section, has a particularly compelling story these days, as the team represents one of the many resilient groups to recover from the Camp Fire and bring normalcy to the town. Games at Om Wraith Field remain a raucous, energetic blast—Paradise residents turn out in droves whether they have kids on the team or not, and the field is nestled in the pines, giving a feeling to visiting teams that they are stepping into the Bobcats’ well-guarded lair.
In Oroville, the jewel remains Harrison Stadium, a recently constructed, modern all-purpose stadium that plays home to Oroville, Las Plumas, and, on occasion, even Butte College, a junior college team of national renown.
Of course, if you’re more of an armchair quarterback, there are numerous watering holes with big screens all across the county. If the comfort of a chain restaurant is your speed, Chico’s got Buffalo Wild Wings, but it’s also well worth checking out some more local flavor. Downtown Chico’s Madison Bear Garden remains a popular choice for its many screens (including outdoor patio TVs) and tasty burgers. If you’d rather watch the game over some billiards, The Keg Room in Oroville is a more cozy bar setting with a short menu of tasty bites and pool tables.
One of the county’s signature events, Taste of Chico is an annual downtown celebration of the area’s best food and drink, complete with live music. With 17 local eateries providing bites from Noon to 4pm on Sunday, September 22, and even more craft brews available, it’s a fantastic way for visitors to get a bite-sized feel of the Chico vibe, or for locals to embrace it.
Another annual event paying homage to local nature, the Salmon Festival is a celebration of the migration season that brings the fish back to the Feather River in advance of the spring spawn. Including a street fair with arts, crafts, and dancing, complete with various salmon dishes, a 3k Salmon Dash, and viewing of the fish hatchery, this is an outstanding family event, especially for those with nature-loving kids. It kicks off Friday, September 27 with the Feather River Nature Center dinner before a day of events begins on the 28th.
A new addition to the festivities this year is a guided float down the Feather River, hosted by the Forebay Aquatic Center. The float is an 8-person raft, guided by a DWR biologist, and starts at the hatchery and ends at Riverbend Park.
Racing fans have long flocked to Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway for sprint car action on the quarter-mile oval, and the competition is at some of its fiercest during the Gold Cup Race of Champions, now in its 66th edition. Kicking off Wednesday, Sept. 4 with a two-day event called the Platinum Cup (winged 360 sprint cars), the multi-day racing event also includes a Christmas-themed Black Light party, a golf tournament, a chili feed, and a fan appreciation BBQ, on top of the high-competition racing taking place all week.
Because Butte County experiences warmer temperatures later in the season, it can often feel like fall sneaks up on us, but make no mistake—it’s one of the area’s more beautiful times of the year, and if you start to notice, there are already a few crunchy leaves on the ground!
With a rich abundance of tree varieties in the area (especially in Chico, “the City of Trees”), Butte County is spoiled for some breathtaking views as foliage starts to turn colors. Later in September, when the oaks and sycamores begin to turn, an explosion of yellows, oranges and deep reds can be seen; a drive down the Esplanade in Chico is probably the most well-known local scene for tree-gazing.
Orchard country, however, is also beautiful in the fall. In Durham, the bursting pinks and greens of spring that preceded harvest season will soon give way to a brief but gorgeous yellow-and-orange rush of lined trees. Whether you’re cruising the back roads of Butte County or decide to take your bike out for a ride specifically to catch these views, you might consider bringing a camera along.