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Modesto, California

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Modesto in California.


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Modesto is a city in, and is the county seat of Stanislaus County, California. With a population of approximately 211,156 as of April 2009, Modesto ranks as the 17th largest city in the state of California. Modesto is located in Northern California, 90 miles north of Fresno, 92 miles east of San Francisco, 68 miles south of the state capital of Sacramento, and 66 miles west of Yosemite National Park. Modesto, a 29-time Tree City USA honoree, is surrounded by rich farmland, lending to a ranking for the county as 6th among all California counties in farm production. Led by milk, almonds, chickens, cattle, and walnuts, the county grossed nearly $2.5 billion in agricultural production in 2007.

Entertainment and culture

The Modesto Nuts Minor League Baseball Club of the class A California League is the main attraction for locals between Easter and Labor Day. The Nuts are the Single A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and play 70 home games each season.

In the past 10 years, Modesto has hosted many music festivals such as SummerFest, the Downtown Summer Concert Series featuring Chris Isaak, Hootie & the Blowfish, The Doobie Brothers and Styx, and the most notorious of all, X-Fest.

X-Fest, deriving from its real name Xclamation Festival, is a 21 and over music festival in downtown Modesto. Starting in 2000, X-Fest has evolved into a large outdoor event stretching 15 blocks and featuring the Worlds Largest Disco which covers four blocks on its own. In 2008 X-Fest featured 50 bands and a crowd of 15,000 people. Much of the profits end up in local non-profit charities. Some business owners and citizens of Modesto complain of rowdy and often drunk Mardi Gras atmosphere exhibited at X-fest. Events like these may have helped propel Modesto to be ranked, in Feb. of 2010 by Men's Health Magazine, as the 12th drunkest city in America. Men's Health Magazine compiled its rating based on alcohol related deaths, DUI and other arrests.

Summers in Modesto are also marked by the revival of American Graffiti, the 1973 film and cult classic written and directed by Modesto native George Lucas. Lucas' film paid homage to teenage life in 1962 based on his own experiences growing up in the city of Modesto. The city council refused to let Lucas film Graffiti in Modesto so he was forced to make the film elsewhere. The City of Modesto has since realized the importance of our connection to the award winning film and the city is preparing new tourist attractions and events to welcome American Graffiti tourists. The Modesto Convention and Visitors bureau report that the leading request for information is American Graffiti related. The annual festival, Graffiti Summer, celebrates this event and lasts the entire month of June attracting thousands of visitors and car enthusiasts along with hundreds of classic and antique cars.

Located in downtown Modesto is the locally iconic State Theater, one of the many hot sports for music acts and independent films. Also located downtown is the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge, a nightclub dating back to the 1930s.

Downtown Modesto hosts a monthly Art Walk with local artists displaying art for sale, artist demos, local gallery shows, in a multi-venue map self guided tour. Downtown Modesto Third Thursday Art Walk venues include local galleries, nonprofits, restaurants and other local businesses; each featuring local artists 5 to 9 PM. Some stops include musicians from Modesto's vibrant music scene. Maps can be picked up at local businesses, and Downtown Improvement District office.

Music and performing arts

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra, which finds its home at the Gallo Center, held their first performance when Modesto had a population of 17,000 in 1931 and continues to be a staple in the community. Not to be outdone by the Symphony, MoBand (Modesto Band of Stanislaus County), established in 1919, is one of the oldest, continuously performing bands in the U.S. The group performs a free 6-week summer concert-in-the-park series with its 130 volunteer musicians.

Modesto is home to Townsend Opera Players, founded by late performer Buck Townsend, and Modesto Performing Arts, as well as the Gallo Center for the Arts. Modesto is also home to the area's leading pre-professional ballet company, Central West Ballet. The company was founded by Gretchen Vogelzang, and is now run under the direction of Artistic Director Rene Daveluy and Ballet Mistress Leslie Ann Larson.

Modesto is home to Christian recording artist Worth Dying For who plays at Calvary Temple Worship Center while they are not on tour.

Modesto shopping

Modesto offers more than 200 restaurants, cafes, coffee houses and other nightlife clubs. There is also a weekly farmer's market, located downtown on I & 15th Streets.

Vintage Faire Mall in Modesto is an enclosed 2-level shopping mall with space for 125 stores and five major department stores. Notable retailers include Forever 21, Macy’s (Men & Home), JC Penney, Sears, Apple, Coach, and H&M.

Vintage Commons is a shopping center close to Vintage Faire Mall, and it contains retailers such as Target, Best Buy, Borders, and Bed Bath & Beyond. A Costco location is nearby, as well as Pier One Imports and Cost Plus World Market.

Plaza Parkway is a shopping center that leases to stores including Wal-Mart, Kohl's, and John’s Incredible Pizza.

On McHenry Avenue also known as California State Highway 108 There is a Burlington Coat Factory, a Barnes and Noble Booksellers. On the north portion of McHenry there are a series of car dealerships, and on Kiernan Road off of north McHenry, there is a major regional car auction house.

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