When was the last time you came to Ojai (a Chumash word meaning moon)? Or maybe you live/d here? Perhaps then, you’ve seen majestic Chief’s Peak overhead or witnessed the “Pink Moment” illuminating the Topatopa Mountains at sunset.

I’ve resided in Ventura County for almost twenty years now, so as a mom of two, most of my maternal memories took (and take) place within the Ojai Valley. Ojai is my husband’s hometown. I like that we live in an artful area, full of inspiring people and surrounded by nature.

Ojai (previously called Nordhoff) is home to natives, transplants, explorers, celebs, artisans, activists, healers, firefighters, restaurant owners, small businesses, private school patrons, golfers, tennis enthusiasts, farmers, ranchers, horses…and creatures from different walks of life.

Situated within the lower aspect of the east-west valley are Ojai’s nearby neighborhoods: Casitas Springs, Oak View, Mira Monte, and Meiners Oaks. Lake Casitas also stars and sparkles in this pastoral setting.

Ojai Day

Ojai Day—beginning in 1917 and continuing through 1928, with a revival in 1991—is observed every October. The annual event is like a second 4th of July because people of various persuasions get together to honor the town and showcase its talent. Popular Ojai Day offerings include vendors, music, dance, drumming, and more.

Every year, as the big day approaches, locals of all ages are invited to help paint a mandala—an imaginative expression, symbolic circle, and focal point for the celebration. The community’s creative efforts are directed by Ms. River Sauvageau. My 11-year-old daughter enjoys helping and seeing the painting project take shape.

Ojai Day is personally important to me because even my Michigan parents got to experience it, once upon a time, before my mom passed–and dad moved–away.  I found out I was pregnant with my son on Ojai Day, 2009. Furthermore, my first time Bollywood dancing at the gazebo stage was Ojai Day, 2015.


Ojai Day is hosted at Libbey Park, formerly Civic Center Park, renamed Libbey in 1971 after the city’s biggest benefactor Edward Libbey, from Ohio, who lived from 1854-1925. Other events at Libbey Park include MLK Day, Art in the Park, Music, and Storytelling Festivals. Also, “The Ojai,” partly held at the park and started in 1896, is the oldest amateur tennis tournament in the United States. Libbey Bowl, added by architects in 1954, holds concerts throughout the year.  For example, on the evening of April 20th, the Ojai World Dance Festival will take place at the Bowl!

Fun Functions

Other noteworthy Ojai events are the annual Film Festival and Playwrights Conference. Plus, there are weekly Farmers Markets taking place on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons.

Community Resources

While researching details for this article, I consulted two reference books at the Ojai Library, which opened in 1928, became part of the Ventura County Library system in 1958, and was renovated in 1981. These books are Ojai – Postcard History Series, published in 2010 and The Ojai Valley – An Illustrated History, revised in 2017. The second resource was first published in 1983 by longtime Ojai resident Patricia L. Fry.

Of course, the library hosts happenings, too! For instance, the Ojai Poetry Series meets at 6:00 on the third Tuesday evening of every month.

The Ojai Museum tells more of the town’s cultural history. Be sure to check out their site for interesting activities and unique exhibits.

Oh Ojai

In summary, picturesque Ojai, with its Mediterranean climate, Spanish-Mission style architecture, and calendar of events, is a family-friendly place worthy of appreciation and visits, despite frustrations in finding parking downtown.



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