Kingsburg (formerly, Kings River Switch, Drapersville, Kingsburgh and Wheatville) is a town in Fresno County, California. Kingsburg is located 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Selma, at an elevation of 302 feet (92 m).
For much of the town's history the fields around Kingsburg were mostly grape vineyards which produce mainly raisin and table grapes; however in 2002 a large surplus of raisins and grapes drove the price for these commodities down to an all time low. Subsequently, farmers were forced to replant the fields with stone fruit, or (particularly on the west side of town) sell their land to developers to help cope with the rising population. Kingsburg is the headquarters of Sun-Maid Growers of California, a producer of raisins and other dried fruits.
Kingsburg is known as the "Swedish Village". With its Swedish architecture and village atmosphere, Swedish banners fluttering from lamp posts and brightly painted Dala horses, the Swedish heritage of the community is preserved. Kingsburg is home to the world's largest box of raisins, built by students at California State University, Fresno.
Josiah Draper founded the town in the 1870s. In 1874, the post office arrived and named the place Wheatville, Then Kingsbury, changing the name in 1875 to Kingsburgh. and finally to Kingsburg in 1876. Kingsburg incorporated in 1908.
Before widespread irrigation, huge wheat farms were the source of Valley wealth and problems. Transient workers with no ties to any community spent their wages in the saloons of whatever town they found themselves. Overindulgence often resulted in gunshot-punctuated exuberance that often spilled into the streets. Kingsburg was no different. By 1886 there were four hotels and several saloons causing consternation to a growing town population. Alarmed community leaders, hoping to incorporate their city, led the fight to clean up the town. The fight was between "drys" who wanted all saloons within the city limits closed, and "wets" who wanted to maintain status quo. On May 11, 1908, "drys" won the day. Kingsburg was incorporated and all but two saloons were closed.
In 1921, ninety-four percent of the population within a three-mile radius of Kingsburg was Swedish-American, giving the community the nickname of "Little Sweden."
Olympic gold-medal decathlete Rafer Johnson moved to Kingsburg at age 9 and honed his athletic skills playing for Kingsburg school teams. His brother Jimmy Johnson played cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. Actor Slim Pickens was born in Kingsburg. Larry HillblomMonte Clark
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.1 km²), all of it land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,199 people, 3,226 households, and 2,458 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,933.4 people per square mile (1,517.8/km²). There were 3,358 housing units at an average density of 1,435.8/sq mi (554.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.93% White, 0.45% Black or African American, 0.67% Native American, 2.74% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 9.61% from other races, and 4.46% from two or more races. 4.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.7% were of German, 28.6% Swedish, 5.4% Irish and 9.7% English ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 3,226 households out of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.4% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.8% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.0% under the age of 18, 8.3% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $40,490, and the median income for a family was $44,737. Males had a median income of $35,452 versus $23,409 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,137. About 10.4% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.6% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.
The local weekly newspaper is The Kingsburg Recorder
Residents are served by the daily Fresno Bee and by Fresno-based television and radio stations as well as the community oriented web site Kingsburg Buzz. KVPW (Power 106.3), a Top 40/Rhythmic music station, is licensed to Kingsburg.
One of the best times to visit Kingsburg is during its two-day long Swedish Festival held during the third weekend in May. There is an amazing Swedish pancake breakfast, a parade and the coronation of the Swedish Festival Queen. Vendors line the main street of Kingsburg, Draper Street selling a multitude of food, drinks, crafts and all sorts of trinkets. The festivities have become more and more authentically Swedish in later years after locals started traveling more to Sweden and more present day Swedes visited and also settled down in the area.
Kingsburg Elementary schools operate on a charter school system. Kingsburg's elementary school system is unique in that all students in Kindergarten through 8th grades will all go to the same schools together. The school year starts during the later weeks of August. Washington Elementary serves as a Kindergarten only school. First grade is at Roosevelt Elementary. Second and Third grades are at Lincoln Elementary. Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth grades are at the brand new Ronald Reagan Elementary. Seventh and Eighth grades are at Rafer Johnson Junior High School. Kingsburg High School serves as the community high school. Younglife, a Christian youth organization, operates a branch immediately next to Kingsburg High School. Public events, such as Kingsburg High Scool dances, booster meetings, and the City of Kingsburg's Chamber of Commerce awards have been held at the Younglife branch. The district also operates Central Valley Home School which serves as a supplement to traditional Home Schooling.