Gilbert is a rapidly-growing city in Arizona and is the state's center of population. With Mormon-founded Mesa just to its north, Gilbert is known for having a large Mormon population, and until the 1920s was considered “the Hay Capital of the World.” Gilbert's Historic District was the original town center and is still a bustling place with unique restaurants and shops. The Hale Center Theatre, which is known as the longest continuously running, privately owned and operated theater company in America is located in this district.
In a unique celebration of Western heritage, Gilbert celebrates the week-long festival of Gilbert Days each November. With a reenactment of the famed Pony Express route, the festival also includes a rodeo which is the largest in the International Professional Rodeo Association in the Southwest. There are also children's rodeo events, as well as a parade.
Another popular attraction is the Riparian Preserve which has 4.5 miles of walking trail and over 200 species of birds that can be seen. The Riparian Institute offers programs and classes to the public. Gilbert also has 135 miles of multi-use trails for equestrians, bikers and hikers. Freestone Park and Freestone Skate Park are other popular destinations. With picnic areas, batting cages, concessions and sports fields, there is something for every fan of sports and the outdoors.