Fiesta Days Asks for Help

  • Stolting and her board make their case for Fiesta Days.

    Stolting and her board make their case for Fiesta Days.

‘So We Can Give Help to Others’

By Patric Hedlund

In a sometimes heated meeting last week, community volunteers told a state regulator that they need less restrictions on selling beer at Fiesta Days.

A group of about 11 Mountain Memories volunteers appeared unannounced at a meeting of McCASA (Mountain Communities Coalition Against Substance Abuse) July 15, to protest what they said could be a 20 percent or larger drop in their fundraising income at Fiesta Days this year.

“You’ve painted a target on our event, and are hurting us,” they charged.

McCASA (coordinated by Anne Weber with Lisa Walter) is seeking to change the cultural acceptance of minors using alcohol and drugs in our community. They have received a five-year Drug Free Communities grant, a little over $100,000 in federal funds a year. Josh Porter, of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) was at the meeting with them.

Mountain Memories President Mary Kay Stolting reminded McCASA that her group is a local charitable organization of volunteers that was formed in 1968 to raise funds to get an ambulance and medical services for the mountain. They have succeeded. There is now a pharmacy, an ambulance company and two clinics here, so they shifted their focus to supporting Meals on Wheels, health fairs, high school scholarships and many other good deeds. This year they plan to partner with Southern Kern Search & Rescue to enhance emergency preparedness [see related story]. Fiesta Days is how they raise their money.

There are many expenses associated with the festival. They have to lease the park from the county, buy insurance, provide restrooms, and last year paid $4,000 just for sanitation services. Much of the money Mountain Memories raises comes from the Beer Pavilion at Fiesta Days.

Now, Stolting said, ABC has proposed to cut the number of hours they can sell beer, setting a 9 p.m. shut off, for instance, when the carnival is open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

ABC’s Porter and McCASA were quick to support Stolting and her board. Porter said the request to limit hours had come from Kern County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Brown. “I’ll talk to him, let’s see if we can move the cutoff to 9:30,” Porter said.

By the following Tuesday, July 21, the compromise had been made. The August 6-8 Fiesta Days Beer Pavilion’s closing hours will be 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

But the public is being asked to help too. First, Fiesta Days needs volunteers. In addition, the sheriff and ABC require that no alcohol be brought into or taken out of the park. The Mountain Memories board points out that the County Fair and most other venues have the same rule. Your purchases at Fiesta Days help the community.

“You’re going to have beer drinking anyway, you may as well have it at a controlled area where the money goes to the festival,” said Lake of the Woods resident Sandi Martin when she heard of the rule, adding “That brings in the extra money for our nonprofit services here, too.”

To donate your time, contact Fiesta Days at 661-431-8260.

This is part of the July 23, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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