A passion for ‘brave bulls’ that eventually led to the establishment of the Campo Bravo Arena on Escalon-Bellota Road has now been recognized by the Tuleburgh Chapter 69 of E Clampus Vitus.
A Saturday morning dedication of a plaque honoring the life and work of the late Frank V. Borba drew many family members and friends to the longstanding bloodless bullfighting ring. The location was also the site for a two-day Clampers ‘doins’ event – featuring an encampment at the location – following the plaque dedication.
Chapter President Gary Britt Jr. of Sonora said the ceremony was a first for the Escalon area.
“We did an inventory of all of our plaques,” Britt said of keeping track of the various historic markers around the region. “We have been in existence since 1969 and this is the first plaque we have dedicated in the Escalon area, which is part of our territory.”
Britt, who said he spent some time in nearby Valley Home as he was growing up, knew of the bullfights and, now in his role with the Clampers, believed that rich history and tradition brought by the Borba family to the San Joaquin Valley is something that should be noted.
“I got in contact with the Borba family, let them know this is what we wanted to do,” Britt explained.
The monument salutes family patriarch Frank Vaz Borba, who was born near Visalia in February, 1927 and was the son of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores.
Active in the local area, Borba helped found and was first president of the Escalon Azores Band, helped produce the Our Lady of Fatima Festival in Escalon and always displayed “his passion for keeping his tradition and culture thriving.”
That led him to getting legislation passed to allow bloodless bullfights in California and in 1980, the Campo Bravo bullfighting arena was complete.
Son Clarence, on hand for the dedication, said though his dad has “been gone 15 years now” he was certain he would have approved of the honor from the Clampers.
As family, friends and Clampers watched, Clarence christened the monument in the traditional Clamper style, dousing it with a can of beer. Then it was time for photo opportunities and sharing of stories about Frank, his life and work.
Britt said the Clampers do their research and make sure that deserving sites of historic significance are considered for the monument placement.
As the plaque dedicated on Saturday says: “Overall, Frank Borba helped create a place to preserve the Portuguese culture in the San Joaquin Valley.”