The Bonsall Chamber of Commerce held its tenth annual Country Festival on Sept. 21 at the Valley Fort Steakhouse Saloon and Country Venue.
“It went very well,” said Bonsall Chamber of Commerce executive administrator Penelope Richards-Clark. “We had great feedback. Everybody liked the event.”
That’s not to say that the event was without problems – as can be attested by those who tried to attend but were unable to find a parking place. “It was a constant stream of people and we had that parking lot full the entire time,” Richards-Clark said.
Richards-Clark estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the Country Festival, a significant increase over last year’s attendance of approximately 1,000. “We had all kinds of events going on,” Richards-Clark said.
Admission to the festival itself was free, although attendees were invited to donate non-perishable food to the Fallbrook Food Pantry. The festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. was followed by a “Boot Scootin’ Country Music Concert Dance” that evening; concert tickets were $10 apiece and featured the California Rangers country band. “We’re hoping to have them back next year as well,” Richards-Clark said of the band.
The Valley Center Marshals group brought their law enforcement services – and a portable jail – to the Country Festival. Those who were “arrested” had to raise money to be released. That raised approximately $225, which was donated to the Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary. The Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary also brought animals to the Country Festival.
The Kupa Song and Dance Group, comprised of a Pala Band of Mission Indians family, performed dances and told stories about the Luiseno Indians’ heritage in the area. “They were very well received,” Richards-Clark said.
Richards-Clark herself is a belly dancing instructor, and she along with two students performed belly dancing at the Country Festival. The Fallbrook Drum Circle provided about a dozen musicians, local disc jockey and karaoke jockey Cory Carrier also provided music, and the bluegrass band Duo Electro played at the event.
Local cowboy Sonny Grant (the name Stan Kruml uses for professional appearances) taught children how to rope, and he also read cowboy poetry. “He was quite a hit,” Richards-Clark said.
Grant also won the costume contest sponsored by Photo Bungalow.
Hawthorne Chickens brought hay bales for decoration and also provided actual chickens to educate children about the fowl. The Escondido Mounted Posse also participated in the festivities.
About a week prior to the Country Festival the Bonsall Chamber of Commerce had some out-of-town visitors. The family brought their pug dog, named Bonsall, to the city which shares the canine’s name. Bonsall the dog returned to Bonsall the town for the Country Festival, where he was photographed with Bonsall the bee, who is the chamber’s mascot.
ATA Success Martial Arts is a Bonsall Chamber of Commerce member, and approximately 25 children provided martial arts demonstrations during the festival.
The festival included 25 vendor booths. “Everybody did very well,” Richards-Clark said. “They’re all excited about next year.”
The Country Festival also saw the announcement of Bonsall’s new honorary mayor; Kathi Carbone of Ascension Bookstore now holds that position.
San Diego Gas & Electric, Lilac Hills, and Lifesource Water Systems were the three major sponsors of the Country Festival, and Photo Bungalow was also a sponsor.
“It was so well received that Valley Fort has asked us to come back next year as well,” Richards-Clark said.
The chamber is also interested in returning to the Valley Fort Steakhouse. “Everybody really liked the venue. It was a perfect country venue,” Richards-Clark said.
The renovation of the Valley Fort Steakhouse property caused some of the area to be off-limits this year, but that construction should be complete soon. “We’re going to be doing the next year bigger and better,” Richards-Clark said.