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East County News Service

February 20, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) -- This week’s Destination East County has a wide range of creative events, from Black History Month to Fido Fest, from birdwatching tips to the return of HoooleyFest, Touch-a-Truck, a liar’s contest in the desert, a harmonica festival in La Mesa, a chili cookoff in Lemon Grove, and an Earth Day Boulder Fair in Jacumba Hot Springs.

BLACK HISTORY EVENT FEB. 25 IN LEMON GROVE - Postponed to March 4 due to rain.

Lemon Grove’s Black History Celebration 2023 will take place on Saturday, February 25, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Treganza Heritage Park.

The celebration will include spoken word, drumming, African dancers, music artists, art, youth activities, steppers, soul food vendors, food trucks and special community recognition of local black businesses and organizations.

The annual event is hosted by Thrive Lemon Grove, a non-profit community organization. This event is a unity celebration, so everyone is welcome to join the fun at this day of celebrating culture and diversity. 


LOVE YOUR HEART COMMUNITY FAIR FEB. 25 IN RAMONA - Postponed to March 11 due to rain.

The County of San Diego invites you to its “Love Your Heart Community Fair” on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 12-3 p.m. at the Ramona Library, 1275 Main Street in Ramona.

Learn about good heart health and how to control your blood pressure—and get a free blood pressure monitor as well as a blood pressure check.

Plus, there will be information booths, a Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Murals walk, and food distribution. In addition, the fair includes vaccines available free for COVID-19 and flu, as well as Naloxone distribution to prevent overdoses.


FIDO FEST IN SANTEE FEB. 25 - Postponed until March 11 due to rain

Fido Fest, the largest dog festival in East County, will be presented by the city of Santee on Saturday, February 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dog adoptions, giveaways, a dog agility course and much more will be available at the free event held at Town Center Community Park East.

Other activities include a hay bale mountain, off-leash tennis ball mania, doggie cake walk, as well as “arfs and crafts” for your budding “Pawcasso.” There’s also a dog costume contest, plus prizes for the biggest and smallest dog, and for best trick.

Microchipping and pet licensing will be available for a small fee.

There’s also a Shelter Donation Drive to help local non-profit shelters. Bring an item to donate, such as a leash, dog toy or pet store gift card, and be entered to win great doggie gift baskets.

All dogs must be on a leash, be up to date on vaccinations, and comfortable in a crowd.  You can find more information at is external).


TOUCH-A-TRUCK ROLLS INTO LAKESIDE FEB. 26: Postponed due to rain until March 19

Lakeside Chamber of Commerce invites you to Touch-a-Truck, an experience geared towards the kid in all of us. 

Guests can touch and see a wide variety of vehicles, trucks and equipment during the event on Sunday, February 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 11600 Riverside Drive in Lakeside. 

For more information, visit is external).



North America’s songbird population has declined dramatically in the last 50 years, and the most significant cause of the decline is loss of habitat. 

In a lecture on Thursday, March 2nd at 6 p.m. at Mission Trails Regional Park’s visitor center, Kay Charter of the nonprofit Saving Birds Thru Habitat will offer tips on creating habitat in your own yard to help songbirds thrive.

All attendees will receive a free book on birds, a list of songbird-friendly plants native to the San Diego region, and other additional resources to help grow the songbird population.

You can find more information at the Mission Trails Regional Park website at MTRP. Org.



Telling a whopper is usually taboo.  But at the Peg Leg Liars Contest, you can win prizes for spinning the best tall tale.

After a two year hiatus due to COVID, the contest is back. It will be held on Saturday, March 4, 2023 at the American Legion Post in Borrego Springs, starting at dusk.

Begun informally in 1916the event is the longest ongoing story-telling competition in the West. The contest is named after Thomas Smith, known as Pegleg after he lost a leg after being struck by an arrow and had a wooden limb fashioned. 

A real-life mountain man, fur trapper, horse thief, trader and tall-teller extraordinaire, Pegleg Smith boasted of finding a fortune in black gold nuggets atop a desert butte. 

He claimed to have mistaken them for copper until he had them tested in Los Angeles, and learned they were gold, but he never returned to find them.  

Over 30 prospectors since the 1880s have died searching for this bonanza, though it’s unknown whether Pegleg’s gold is a real lost treasure waiting to be found,  a myth, or if someone already found the treasure and kept it secret. 

There are several fragments of stories from Indians and a miner who claim to have seen the black gold, perhaps supporting Pegleg’s claim.

Some believe the treasure may still remain waiting to be claimed somewhere the West, possibly even in Anza-Borrego desert. Pegleg died in 1966 and is  commemorated with a California historical landmark in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

At the Pegleg Liar’s Contest, entries are judged based on presentation, originality, costumes, and whether Pegleg Smith is mentioned. All contestants get a trophy and certificate of participation; and there’s also a youth division.

The event is open to the public,  with food and drinks available for purchase.  It is organized by the Committee to Accumulate Curious Tales of Incredibility, or CACTI.  

According to the Borrego Sun newspaper, “Liars are always in demand and you needn’t be an expert. Any subject is acceptable” as long as it’s not profane. 

Funny, bizarre, and nonsensical” tall tales are appreciated, the Sun advises. As for what to wear?  The sun suggests a wide range of options—from Western wear to tuxedos.



Hot times are in store for guests at the Lemon Grove Lions club Chili Cookoff fundraiser on Saturday, March 4 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lemon Grove Community Center(3146 School Lane, Lemon Grove). The event includes chili tasting, live music, hot dogs, waterand admission for $30.  Raffle tickets will also be available to purchase and vie for prizes.

Love to cook? You can also sign up to enter the chili contest by contacting Chriss Murphy at 619-850-6581 or John Burke at 619-316-3225.



Music, food and fun will be available during the Bathhouse Bazaar in Jacumba Hot Springs. 

The next bathhouse bazaar will be held on March 4th from 10 2 p.m. at the corner of Old Highway 80 and Jacumba Street. 



Hooleyfest, the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in East County, will return after a hiatus and this year, the celebrating will span three days from March 17th through 19th at Hooley’s Irish Pub and Grille in La Mesa’s Grossmont Center.

Sure and you can enjoy live Irish music such as the Rebel Celts, hoist a pint of Guiness, and and savor traditional Irish foods and cheer. For more information, you can visit 



Local and national stars will be playing American blues harmonica music at Spring Harp Fest. The family-fun event, which raises funds to benefit music education countywide, will be held April 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harry Griffen Park in La Mesa.


Since 1999, the Spring Harp Fest has introduced local musicians and music lovers to the great American art of Blues Harmonica.  The unique once-yearly showcase includes local jams, competition among unknown players, and some of the best professional players in the music scene.


Guests are encouraged to bring their harmonica), hula hoops, cameras, bubbles, and dancing shoes. Food will be available for purchase at the event. Locals who want to test their prowess can even compete to earn the title of “Best of the Unknown Players,” selected through audience applause during the 2 p.m. jam. The festival performances start and end with collaborative jams among featured musicians. 


Spring Harp Fest has helped raise funds to purchase 5,000harmonicas for local school music programs, and annually help fund summer blues camps. 


Although admission is free, there is a suggested donation of $1to $20 for guests who can afford to support the effort. You can reserve your free tickets or donate at Eventbrite. For more information, visit




For its annual Earth Day celebration, the Desert View Tower and Boulder Park will host a Boulder Fair on Saturday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  


The festivities will include live music by Sage, Victor Bosc, and Sunrise Highway as well as arts and crats, gifts, jewelry, displays of rocks and gemstones, healing herbs and medicinal plants, gardening tips and a plant sale, organic produce, cacao and superfoods, tie dye products, a desert plant walk, and a kid zone.

There will also be tamales and Mexican food to purchase, as well as a gourmet coffee truck.


Desert View Tower and Boulder Park are located just off I-8 on In-Ko-Pah Road in Jacumba Hot Springs, just before the county line. 


Learn more at


We’ll be back next week with more festivals, events and attractions in San Diego’s East County!

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