As the winners of the mustache and beard competition accepted their ribbons on Saturday, visitors to the 54th Annual Mountaineer Days began to notice a few drops of rain from the dark clouds above. As was predicted, thunder clouds had been drifting through, keeping the temperature at the street fair in the 80s. What was not predicted for the Wrightwood Chamber of Commerce’s big event was the two-hour monsoon-type thunder storm that occurred when the sky opened up, just after 11:30 a.m.
For the first 30 minutes or so, people were content either to shelter under vendor canopies or under the eaves of village shops, or to brave the wet and continue shopping, playing corn hole, and ordering lunch. But as the rain came harder and showed no sign of relenting, folks looked for refuge in shops, restaurants, and the Wrightwood Museum. MJ Koerper, a docent at the museum on Saturday, commented she opened the meeting room next to the museum and invited people to come in and wait out the storm. “People were happy to have a dry place to wait. They used their phones to watch the storm pattern on radar maps.” When the sky cleared, MJ said, everyone put the chairs back, cleaned up after themselves, and many even left donations in the museum collection box, as a thank you for the small-town hospitality.
Only a few vendors had called it a day, and when the deluge was over everyone else was ready to resume the festivities. The Pine Needles Quilt Guild had packed up the auction quilts and taken them home to dry. On Sunday, they set the whole display up again, and carried on with the auction after the parade. Lynn Crawford reported a successful event, especially in light of having to reschedule the auction.
As is the custom at Mountaineer Days, a variety of contests offered winners ribbons, trophies, and, well, Hula Hoops! The Mountaineer Progress sponsored the Hula Hoop competitions throughout the weekend, as they do each year, and the winners each chose a Hula Hoop to take home. Applewood Court sponsored the water balloon toss, watermelon (sponsored by Village Grind) and pie eating contests resulted in full tummies and messy faces, and the mustache and beard competition gave gents a chance to show off their whiskers.
On the subject of whiskers…Critters to Go provided a petting zoo, complete with a pony, goats, chickens, and other farm animals. Fiona, a donkey from Lane’s Ponies and Pets was on hand for photo ops. Lisa Renek, owner of Slithers and Crawls, could be found, rain or shine, walking through town with boa around her shoulders; or a python, as she introduced interested passers-by to the sleek, beautiful reptiles from her local ‘Wildlife Education and Entertainment’ company.
New this year was the disc golf competition, sponsored by Sky High Disc Golf, at the elementary school. A skateboard contest sponsored by Pharmacy Board Shop was scheduled for Sunday, but organizers were disappointed when not enough people signed up for the event. Mountain High hoped to bring a soapbox derby to the event, but that too lacked participation.
Sunday’s annual parade, themed “Community Pride,” was a colorful gala, under an overcast sky. Leading the parade were the Marine Color Guard, who won the ribbon for Best Parade March. Children rode bikes decorated in red, white, and blue patriotic themes. Leo and Debbie Hordyk, owners of the Grizzly Café, awarded new bicycles to Juliana Jackson and William Gibbs, winners for the best decorated bikes. Miss Tanya’s Dance Studio won a trophy for Best Float, Angeles National Forest for best Kid’s Theme – Smokey Bear rode the Chamber of Commerce Hay Wagon, Pine Needles Quilt Guild for Best Automobile, and Mike Randall’s Mule Team tied with Phelan Search and Rescue for Best Equestrian entry.
Food and drinks were available at the Community Building parking lot, and Snowie snow-cones and shaved ice were a welcome treat in the hot sun. Villains of Yesteryear provided Western Re-enactments for entertainment. They also stood guard at the jailhouse, as hapless ‘prisoners’ waited to be pardoned.
Live music was provided by local favorites the Wrightwood Blues Society, and Jarett James and the County Line. Many local organizations and businesses provided a wealth of hospitality and sponsorships for the weekend-long event, contributing to another successful small-town festival.
Blues Society Open Mic
By Michael Palecki
Although it was the night before Mountaineer Days and many residents of the Wrightwood Village were quietly preparing for a big weekend, things began to heat up at The Yodeler for the inaugural First Friday Open Mic Night presented by the Wrightwood Blues Society (WBS). With the Greg Jones Band providing a stellar house band, it wasn’t long before guest performers approached the microphone and began to create a synergy of their own.
Initially, musicians included Greg Jones on keyboards and vocals, Dave Pruitt on electric guitar and vocals, Irwin Williams playing electric bass guitar, Walter Foley playing a shrill blue electric guitar, and Toby Williams on drums. Starting the music with the classic blues songs of “Down Home Girl” and “Nothing But A Woman,” there was a tandem locomotion of guitars as Jones and Pruitt sang. Following those two songs, guest bass player Eric Arellano lunged into a dazzling interpretation of the Sly & The Family Stones’ song “Thank You For Letting Me be Myself” as Jones sang, Toby Williams pounded wildly on the drums and Foley crea ted a wah wah effect with the blue guitar.
Guest performer Dave Gadbois then played an energetic keyboard and sang the Doors’ song “Love Me Two Times.” After that, Jones announced, “We are doing Doctor Pat Wymore’s favorite song “Mustang Sally” as Gadbois continued on keyboards with Jones singing and playing a cow bell. Continuing in the Open Mic format, a guest from Pinon Hills, Richard Sojka played trumpet as Doctor Pat sang “Hoochie Coochie Man” in a Muddy Waters voice with both Sojka and Gail Mahler contributing long solo performances.
Highlights of the second set included Dave Cimino playing drums as all the performers sang the Marvin & Johnny song “Cherry Pie.” Jones & Campbell (Claudia) sang a smoky Peggy Lee rendition of “Fever,” featuring power solos from the trumpet and Foley’s blue guitar, with the audience yelping and applauding.
The WBS presents Open Mic Night on the first Friday of each month, with the next installment scheduled for August 3. It’s a high-energy event showcasing talented local musicians with donations funding the Terry “Big T” DeRouen music scholarship. For additional information go to www.wrightwoodblues.org.
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