Doc and Clara dance at the event.


Buford takes aim at Doc.

"Let the festivities begin!"
—Mayor Hubert
"The whole of the main street was lit by bright red Chinese lanterns, with American and California State flags hanging from the big saloon and the unfinished courthouse. Carnival booths had been set up in the street. The first one was called EL SAPO — it looked like you were supposed to toss wooden discs into the open mouth of a large clay frog. Farther down the line was an arm-wrestling booth, occupied at the moment by a huge ox of a guy, sitting patiently at a table; a photographer with a sign announcing HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN WITH THE NEW CLOCK TOWER! and another booth advertising RECORD YOUR OWN VOICE!, with a primitive phonograph machine that recorded on to cylinders that looked like they were made of wax. Beyond them were tables full of food and drink: fried chicken and steaks, lemonade and cider."
—From Back to the Future Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 110)
"But first, Doc and Marty had to pass a table with a very large sign: PLEASE CHECK ALL FIREARMS. The table was piled high with revolvers and half a dozen rifles, with a couple of deputies hovering behind to make sure the sign was obeyed. Marty and Doc both paused at the table long enough to assure the deputies they were unarmed, then went in to join the festivities."
—From Back to the Future Part III by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 110)

The Hill Valley Festival was an event held on Saturday September 5, 1885 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the town's founding.


The festival was held at Courthouse Square where the newly constructed Hill County Courthouse was to gain a new working clock at 8:00 p.m.

A photographer was offering attendees the opportunity to have a souvenir photograph taken in front of the clock. There was a band for entertainment and several vendors such as Colt Firearms and a table of pies (at least one of which had a pie tin embossed FRISBIE'S PIES, indicating it was from the Frisbie Pie Company).

Security for the event was managed by Marshal James Strickland who encountered Buford Tannen and his gang before they could enter and disarmed them. However, Strickland missed one gun — a derringer — that Buford had hidden in his hat.

At the event, Buford intervened in the festivities and shot Dr. Emmett Brown in the back over the previous matter they argued that week. Doc would later die two days later of internal bleeding.

When Marty McFly traveled back to 1885, he prevented that from occurring, temporarily saving Doc's life by throwing a Frisbie pie tin which hit Buford's arm and caused the derringer to go off, wasting Buford's only shot and causing the bullet to go straight through Doc's hat and knock it off his head. An enraged Buford then gave "Clint Eastwood" (Marty's alias in the Old West) an ultimatum to show up on the street in a duel on Monday morning.

The Marshal broke up the dispute and festivities continued.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The band included the three members of ZZ Top, playing a country version of "Doubleback".
  • On page 110 of the novelization, (see first Quote above), a misprint resulted in the line fried chicken and steaks reading 'friend chicken and steaks' instead. This error has been corrected here.
  • The name of the first carnival booth, EL SAPO (see first Quote above), is Spanish for "the Toad".


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