By Michael J. ARVIZU
he first Teranga Ranch Summerfest at Sunland Park in Sunland was held from Aug. 8 to Aug. 10 and featured amenities that catered to a variety of tastes.
For the animal lover, a variety of pet adoption agencies set up shop on the grass, including Best Friends Animal Society – Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Animal Services. Cats, kittens, dogs and puppies sat in cages as guests petted a paw or patted a head through the space between the cage bars. Anyone considering adoption had the chance to speak to a local animal shelter representative.
Exotic animal lovers also got to see unconventional pets, such as lizards and snakes, provided by Lake View Terrace-based Wildlife Waystation.
Art aficionados were able to purchase works of art, ceramic pieces or jewelry.
“It’s a way to sell our goods,” said Marcie Smith, a Summerfest vendor and resident of Sunland. “We’re all local crafters, all local artists. It was an opportunity to show what we made.”
Smith and about three other artisans in her booth offered items for sale such as doll clothes, jewelry, crocheted items and artwork including paintings. Smith said she chose to sell at Summerfest in order to support a local organization and sell to a local customer base.
“We are supporting them by personally bringing our customers,” Smith said. “We all have our own following.”
Shari Gonzalez, a ceramic artist and resident of Tujunga, said Summerfest gave her the opportunity to sell her wares for the first time.
“This the very first time I made a lot of pottery,” she said. “I wanted to see if anybody would buy it. I usually give it away to my family.”
Gonzalez chose to sell only on the second day of Summerfest, Saturday, “because we didn’t know how it was going to go.”
Music lovers were treated to an eclectic group of local bands playing in various genres.
After the Sunland-Tujunga Lions Club Watermelon Festival relocated to the Rose Bowl in 2013, then this year to Santa Anita Park, Summerfest is the only event of its kind in town not held within the scope of a major holiday. The community organizes yearly carnivals around Easter and the Fourth of July.
“I wanted to come see the animals, and my son’s really into reptiles,” said Joyce Lau, a resident of Sunland, who brought her two boys, Tyler, 6, and Sebastian, 7. “He got some good information because he has a bearded dragon. It’s good to see other bearded dragons out there.”
Summerfest saw relatively light attendance throughout the weekend. But Dana Stengel, event organizer and Teranga Ranch herpetologist, was not fazed and declared the event a success.
“All I can really say is, it’s my first event,” she said, as a band played in the background. “I don’t know what else I can do to bring people here. If someone has suggestions, I am certainly open to them.”
Most people – vendors included – heard about Summerfest through social media.
“I want to feel like everyone’s happy; I want to feel like my vendors are happy and my bands are happy,” she said. “I want to make sure everybody has had a good experience, so I’m checking in with people.”
Stengel also felt that given the large area of the park in which Summerfest was held – carnival rides were situated at the extreme west end of the park, while vendors were located at the park’s east side – contributed to the appearance that not many were in attendance.
“I think it looks light because we have spread out throughout the whole park,” Stengel said. “I have stretched everything out all the way across this park. We have plenty of space, so it looks light.”