By Erna TAYLOR-STARK
You wouldn’t want to be late to this event, because as far as the eye can see there were parked cars everywhere. The parking lots were full and cars lined the streets and side streets: it seemed that everyone was at the fair. The fourth Annual Hometown Country Fair, presented by the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce, took place on Saturday, April 17 at Crescenta Valley Park. For those who had never been to this park, this event was a great way to get acquainted with it.
A Snack Shack, large Ferris wheel and other rides greeted guests heading in to the park. Children squealed as parents watched and smiled while their kids enjoyed the rides. Families, teens, children and dogs were everywhere. The weather was beautiful and the smell of good things cooking at the food court was enticing. About 70 crafts and educational booths could be found beyond the turnstile. There was no entrance fee. All you needed were your feet for walking, your stomach to enjoy the food and your eyes for checking out the booths and displays.
Teenager Sylvia Lee was walking her new puppy, 9-month-old Louie, while waiting for her two brothers, Isaiah and Isaac to catch up with her. “My parents do the Korean barbecue. They have done it for three years and they serve Korean short ribs, rice and salad. They are right over there.” She smiled as she pointed a finger toward the food court then, with brothers in tow, all three went on their way.
There are booths of jewelry, clothing, paintings, plants, skin care, toys, handmade items such as knitted hats, doilies, hand and dish towels, Crescenta Valley Water District and of course, a bandstand and bands. About 2:30 p.m., a children’s choir from Valley View Elementary presented a skit with choral background to the delight of all who viewed it.
Immediately after their presentation, a young soldier was called up to the platform to be honored by the crowd. Mark Carbonell, just back from his second tour in Iraq, repledged himself to serving his country in the U.S. Army for another two years. He received a standing ovation from the crowd and many handshakes and heartfelt words of thanks for his dedication. He expects to be serving his country at home in the U.S. for the next two years.
By far one of the most visited areas was that housing the Wildlife Way Station. Tamara Atkin, a volunteer every weekend for five years said, “I love wildlife. The station is close to where I live, so it makes it easy for me to get there and do something I love.” She was holding a veiled chameleon named Sophie. “She is actually a celebrity,” Atkins said. “She goes to schools and other places to educate people.”Although Sophie was bright green with blue patches, “She can turn a little brown if she is nervous,” said Heather Marvin, another longtime volunteer.Marvin introduced another star of the Way Station. “Mr. O, our opossum, is the only living marsupial in North America,” Marvin told the crowd. “Opossums are misunderstood by most people. They are good for the environment because they are a ‘clean-up’ crew. They eat trash, dead or dying fruit, and insects. They don’t spread diseases either. Opossums are nocturnal and since they eat almost anything. If you don’t want them to eat your cat or dog food; bring it in at night.”
Next to Mr. O was Dakota, a light coated bobcat who is under the care of Jeanette Iverson and Phyllis Morris. Morris has been his sole trainer from the time he arrived at the Way Station. “Bobcats have a Napolean complex,” explained Morris. “It takes infinite amounts of time and patience to work with them. At first he was unworkable having come from a private owner who wanted him as a pet.” With Morris’ patience and love over the past 17 years, he is now a star at events like the fair and at schools in the area. Dakota was napping near his crate after a long “chat” with many admirers.
There were plenty of other things to explore at Saturday’s fair, too. A new event, under the direction of former Rosemont history teacher Lynn McGinnis, was a pie-baking contest. Being the first year, there weren’t too many entries, but what were there were of excellent quality according to judges Youna Karlsson, Anna Loutsos and Joe Kroening.
“You have an excellent crust,” said Karlsson to Baylee Renfro of her chocolate chip pie. “Congratulations.” Renfro won for the under 18 division; Mike Maluccio’s raspberry-lemon delight took first place in the over 18 division.
Another first for the fair was a pie-eating contest. Several entrants gobbled down chocolate pudding pies in record time. The participants were each sponsored by a chamber member. Jason Elmassian, sponsored by Bonners Equipment Rentals, won that contest.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the chamber’s scholarship funds and other outreach efforts.