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By Miriam Raftery

August 30, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) – Thanks to all of you who turned out to help make our 10-year anniversary celebration, East County Fest,, a huge success! 

Hundreds flocked to Mission Trails Regional Park to enjoy foods and wines served up by over 20 local restaurants, wineries and a cider brewery, also enjoy live music, meeting local authors and artists, vying for raffle and auction prizes, stargazing, viewing our “Best of East County” video, mixing and mingling with a veritable who’s who of East County who turned out to help us celebrate our special occasion.

Special thanks to Joe Gabaldon from SDG&E for their major sponsorship of our special event. We also thank California Coast Catering for sponsoring our VIP party and Diego Party Bus for transporting our guests in style.

Bekker Catering served up our VIP party in style with ceviche, watermelon-feta skewers, cheese platters and more, showing why they’ve been voted best caterer in San Diego County in a San Diego Union-Tribune reader’s poll. Special thanks also to San Pasqual Winery for treating our guests to some wonderful summertime wines for both the VIP party and the main event!

We were honored to have many elected officials, candidates and dignitaries present including El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, El Cajon Councilmembers Gary Kendrick and Steve Goble, Lemon Grove Councilmember Jennifer Mendoza, Santee Councilmember Ronn Hall, La Mesa Councilmembers Kristine Alessio and Guy McWhirter, La Mesa City Council candidate Dave Myers, judicial candidate Matt Brower, Helix Water Board members Dan McMillan and Mark Gracyk, Grossmont Healthcare District board member Virginia Hall, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Trustees Elena Adams and Greg Barr, GCCCD board candidate Thersea Rosiak-Profitt, Nital Meskoor representing the Iraqi Association of Culture and Arts, George Gastil, president of the East County Leadership Council, and executives from California Coast Credit Union, SDG&E, Cox Communications, Waste Management, St. Madeleine Sophie's Center, and other prominent East County companies and organizations.

Reporter Karen Pearlman of the San Diego Union-Tribune and photojournalist Jay Renard of the East County Herald were also at the festivities.

Congresswoman Susan Davis sent a letter congratulating us on our anniversary, stating, “For the past 10 years, East County Magazine has provided a tremendous resource to the residents of the San Diego region. Free press is part of the foundation of our democracy. It keeps the public informed of the issues most important to their lives and empowers them to make change. Local media, such as East County Magazine, touches lives even more directly—connecting them to their community.  Thank you for your decade of services to the people of east San Diego County. .I wish you continued success in the years ahead.”

El Cajon Councilman Gary Kendrick asked to speak in order to praise East County Magazine for our “courageous reporting” and “telling the truth” while covering important issues in our region.

Legendary basketball star and hometown hero Bill Walton (an alumni of my alma matter, Helix High) sent an email stating, “Great event, purpose and cause. Thank you…you rock!”  He also praised our editor as a “remarkable force of nature,” adding, “Thanks for your inspiration, passion, and truth. Beam on!”

Others praised our East County Wildfire and Emergency Alerts for helping to keep people safe and informed during firestorms across our region.

Chuck McPherson did an amazing job creating a painting of Cedar Creek Falls and famed NBA superstar Bill Walton put in a special guest appearance. Richard Lederer (UT “Lederer on Language” columnist and “A Way With Words” founding co-host) gave a wonderful talk, signed copies of his books and then served as auctioneer as the finale of our event. 

Our guests also enjoyed live music by guitarists Jim Earp and Miles Moynier, a graceful and beautiful dance performance by Visionary Dance Theater, and Native American Flute Circle players. As the stars came out, San Diego Astronomy Association provided telescopes to view stars and planets in the night sky.

Our hearty thanks to Farmer’s Table, Red Lobster, Cucina Basilica, Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina, Por Favor, Downtown Café, Café 67, Lemon Grove Bakery, Baron's Market, Richard's Honey, Happy Time Mediterranean, Maldina's Pizzeria, Brew Coffee Spot, Granite Lion Cellars, San Pasqual Winery, Campo Creek Vineyards, Casi Cielo Winery, Lenora Winery, and Bivouac Cider Works.

We also thank the many authors: Richard Lederer, Richard Carrico, Jim and Terri Varnell, Don Endicott, Reina Menasche, Bette Pegas, Linda Hawley and Del Hood, with special thanks to Sunbelt Publications for bringing in most of these amazingly talented writers.  Artist Jackie Hanson and wildlife photographer Debbie Merrill displayed their beautiful works. We also thank Gloria Chadwick for donating a painting of an endangered black rhino.

East County Sprites provided volunteers who helped us with set up. We also thank Miss La Mesa Kelli Loper, Miss Santee Laurene Vouaux,  Miss Teen La Mesa Kennedy Dirkes, and  Miss Teen  Santee Jordan Bockert for providing a warm welcome to our guests and assisting with raffle ticket sales.

We raffled and auctioned off thousands of dollars in prizes donated by the authors and artists present as well as prizes donated by Bill Walton, CalCoast Open Air Theatre, Club Pilates, Runway Fashions, Fusion Glass/Idea Field, Ghanin Jewelry, Giardino’s Italian Cucina, Farmer’s Table, Maldini’s Pizzeria, Mountain Mike’s Pizza, Pret-a-Porter Salon and Spa, Runway Fashions, San Carlos Hardware, San Diego Festival Chorus and Orchestra, San Pasqual Winery, Hatfield Creek Winery, Ramona Ranch Winery, Vineyard Hacienda, Raul Sandelin Films, Water Wise Edibles, Visionary Dance Theatre, Serenity Treasures, and more.

If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can sign up FREE to receive our weekly e-newsletter and/or our wildfire and emergency alerts at www.EastCountyMagazine.org

If you missed the festivities and would like to help support our nonprofit reporting in the public interest or our wildfire and emergency alerts, all services provided free to the public, you can donate at our new auxiliary nonprofit to sustain our publications at www.EastCountyMedia.org

We also have our new “Best of East County Cookbook” available on handy thumb drives (so you can print recipes as you need them) in full color with recipes from top restaurants, caterers, farms and wineries across our region. You can buy it for $18. To order, send a check to East County Media, 4438 Hideaway Place, La Mesa, CA 91941 and write “cookbook” on the subject line; be sure to include your mailing address.

You can also get involved as a community journalist for print reporting or radio broadcast, as well as volunteers to help with events, marketing and more to help grow East County Magazine for the next 10 years! Sponsors and underwriters are also welcome to help sustain our news in the public interest and reach our loyal readers—we now average 7 million hits and a quarter million visits each month! Contact Miriam Raftery, editor@eastcountymagazine.org or (619)698-7617 for details.

Check back for more photos of the event to be loaded soon! If you got some great shots, please send them to us at editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

Thanks again to our major sponsors!

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Support community news in the public interest! As nonprofit news, we rely on donations from the public to fund our reporting -- not special interests. Please donate to sustain East County Magazine's local reporting and/or wildfire alerts at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate to help us keep people safe and informed across our region.