The Antelope Valley, an hour or so east on the 14 freeway in northern Los Angeles County, can be a bizarre place. Sundried mile upon sundried mile of pale desert, prickly and forlorn joshua trees, strange little towns and wide open vistas. People who choose to live in the desert often do so to get away from civilization, but there are others who really don’t have much of a choice. Here you will encounter the unconventional and odd… people with strange hobbies, unusual occupations and owners of trippy lawn ornaments. You will meet eccentrics and rule breakers and artists who are heat and drought resistant.
On Pearblossom Highway in the parched and dusty town of Littlerock, population 1,700, you will find a fun and tacky roadside attraction called Charlie Brown Farms. Opened in 1929 as a fruit stand named Sweets, it has evolved and exploded into a kingdom of kitsch, a wonderland of weirdness. Almost like a stand at the County Fair it touts food items that are almost a dare. Deep fried oreos, meat-on-a-stick, funnel cakes, fresh ostrich eggs ($29.75 each), a fudge bar, chocolate covered bacon, over 150 different milkshake flavors, 150 kinds of jerky (including alligator, elk and rattlesnake) and… drumroll, please… it is home to the World’s Largest Slab of Jerky.
Bought in 1975 by current owner Jackie Hallgren and renamed Charlie Brown Farms, this little old fruit stand, as if given a boost of growth serum in some vintage science-fiction thriller, began its metamorphosis into something quite different. Now encompassing 6-acres, it is a sprawling, seemingly endless maze of more than twenty rooms of outlandish collectibles. These include oversized statues of dinosaurs, sharks and a lawn-sized Eiffel Tower. Searching for that elusive Elvis plaster cast? Look no further. How about a visit to the Village of Gnomes or the particularly creepy, multi-roomed House of Dolls? A room filled with faux stained glass wind chimes? Got it. A life-sized Betty Boop? Check.
Whatever you’re looking for, providing it makes somebody’s eyes roll somewhere, you can more than likely find it here. Although the produce now takes up only a tiny portion of the store, this fruit stand is as nutty as it comes. So, if you find yourself crossing the barren Antelope Valley and are looking for a most surreal oasis, well then you’re in for a treat…
Charlie Brown Farms: 8317 Pearblossom Highway, Littlerock, CA 93543; (661) 944-2606. Hours: 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.
Originally published June 17, 2014 at The Los Angeles Beat