In 1923, something very special took hold within a small corner of the great San Jacinto Valley of Southern California. That something was a play. A simple play with tremendous meaning. An adaptation of the famous 1884 novel “Ramona”, written by author Helen Hunt Jackson. Jackson had been so angered about the Federal government’s treatment of Native Americans, she became a valiant activist for tribes throughout the country. When her attempts through her book Century of Dishonor and her report on the Mission Tribes in our region failed get Congress to right their wrongs, she decided to write a book that would move the hearts of a country.
“Ramona” has never gone out of print and its popularity grew to the point that it contributed greatly to the tourism of Southern California. In the early 1900’s five “Ramona” movies were produced and in 1923 communities of Hemet and San Jacinto decided that a play of Ramona would be a great way to retell the important story that included many incidents that occurred in their valley. With a script written by an Englishman named Garnet Holme, and the vision of some very far sighted locals, the play was staged for the first time among the rocks and meadow grass within a beautiful natural amphitheatre chosen by Mr. Holme.
These visionaries had no idea that 92 years later, this play would still be performed each spring among those same rocks and meadow grasses. Nor did they dream that the Ramona Bowl would become the entertainment venue that it has, attracting thousands of people from around the globe every year, not only to “Ramona” but also to concerts and special events held within the amphitheatre that was created specifically to hold this treasured play.
Each year upwards of 5,000 fourth grade students are treated to a free special performance of RAMONA. Student attendance fulfills the state's Early California History requirement. For many of these children it will be the only opportunity they will have to experience a production of this scope. Others will become lifelong volunteers and raise their own children in the RAMONA tradition. But what we are most proud of is that for each of these children 4th grade day will bring history magically alive. They will be transported back in time to early California. The exposure to this period of our state's history is so compelling it will create memories to last a lifetime. Many of our residents are financially unable to leave our valley for entertainment and education purposes. While the focus is educating the children, we cannot overlook the adults who have moved to our area and are unfamiliar with the rich history of California. The Ramona Pageant introduces newcomers to a unique period in our history when three cultures blended together and the challenges they faced. It is most rewarding when giving a five minute history lesson about Helen Hunt Jackson and how RAMONA came to be. Adults and children alike find the historical part of our story the most interesting.
Arts and Culture:
RAMONA is the Inland Empire's premier Arts and Cultural event replete with lavish pageantry, colorful music and dancing. We have an onsite museum featuring Native American artifacts of the area. We provide free preshow entertainment that features Native American and Spanish traditions such as basket weaving, fry bread, dancers and renegade cowboys. Most of all, RAMONA captures the experience that brings to life the harsh realities of California's early history and the diverse cultures that joined together to create the state we call home.
The Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre is solely dependent upon ticket sales, donations and sponsorships for its income. We are extremely grateful for the contribution of time, talent and very special care that we get from our over 600 volunteers who do what they do for the Love of Ramona and the Bowl. Please visit our website at www.ramonabowl.com or come visit the Bowl at 27400 Ramona Bowl Road, Hemet, CA 92544. For more information please call 951-658-3111.
Thank you for considering us for your donation!