Elvis Presley (a.k.a. Raymond Michael) took to the stage Saturday evening for two shows. The shows contained many of the Elvis Presley’s hits from his number one songs to the songs he sang in his movies. Elvis moved through the crowd and sang and gave out his signature scarfs throughout the evening. Photo by Don Johnson

Citrus Festival a big hit...entertainment, food and more makes for fun weekend

July 21, 2004
37th Annual Kiwanis Citrus Festival brings thousands to Harding Park
Santa Paula News
By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe success of the weekend 37th Annual Kiwanis Club Citrus Festival was overwhelming as record crowds flocked to Harding Park for entertainment, fun and games.“I am so stoked I’m beyond words,” said Kiwanis President David Luna. “Hats off to our city staff, the City Council, Kiwanis and all those wonderful sponsors who helped make this happen. It’s unbelievable!”Citrus Festival Chairman Bill Grant said the success of the festival is “like a dream. . .”Grant spent much of the weekend working the Festival T-shirt booth located in the park’s entryway and “I couldn’t believe the people that kept coming and coming. It’s wonderful!”Many festival visitors took advantage of the Trolley and VISTA buses that ferried thousands of visitors to and from Harding Park back to city parking lots.There was plenty to see and do at the Citrus Festival with a full carnival, plenty of food vendors including gourmet corn dogs, coffees, kettle corn, Tai and Mexican foods and a Beer & Margarita Garden.Entertainment ranged from a concert by famous Elvis impressionist Raymond Michael to retro R&B group Tierra, from Angela Skeels & Ellsworth Barranca to The Bootie Shakers.The Citrus & Avocado Pavilion offered free samples and information from a variety of festival sponsors including Limoneira Co., Sunkist, Shore Packing, Saticoy Lemon, Mission Produce and Fruit Growers Supply. An impressive floral display from Yamaguchi Flowers greeted those entering the pavilion where John Nichols had also set up shop selling citrus labels, art, photographs and books.“The Citrus Festival is a-peeling,” said Nichols, who never met a pun he didn’t like. “It’s the juiciest event in recent history, it’s a pip.”Nichols, the owner of his namesake gallery, was the unofficial greeter for those visiting the pavilion and the number of out-of-towners impressed him. “It’s encouraging to see people not only visiting our little city but also enjoying it,” Nichols noted.
“I would hesitate to guess but I would say the Citrus Festival drew thousands and thousands more than a Santa Paula even has seen in a long time,” said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.Bobkiewicz, who did double duty as the master of ceremonies for the dozens of games and competitions organized by Sarah Skeels, noted that “one of the best things we can do is not only celebrate with our residents but share with others. By putting on a great festival like this we accomplished both this weekend.”And visitors were not shy in saying how taken they were Santa Paula, the city’s beauty as well as the weather.Although the festival was held throughout a hotter than usual weekend many said they were pleasantly surprised at how much cooler the city was then their hometowns.The festival “did a lot to reintroduce Santa Paula around Southern California. . .it’s about time was the common refrain of area residents,” Bobkiewicz noted. “If we can make Santa Paulans happy and bring new people for a taste of Santa Paula, to see what it’s like, that’s perfect.”Bobkiewicz credited Limoneira President/CEO Harold Edwards for gaining wide support from the agricultural industry.“Kudos to Harold; without his support we would not have garnered the sponsorships from the agricultural companies.”At night the sky was lit up with the carnival rides that drew a hoard of kids and teenagers to the westside of Harding Park. Kiwanis Bingo kept fans busy and a variety of vendors offered everything from magnetic jewelry to novelty lit decorations including biteplates that offered truly flashing smiles. Art, handbags, garden decorations, even a palm reader were among the dozens of items available to festival-goers.A big crowd turned out for Elvis and The King shook up Harding Park with a mega-show that delighted the Pelvis’ fans of all ages.Mayor Gabino Aguirre welcomed the concert crowd noting that the “wonderful music takes us back” to the days when Elvis topped rock ‘n’ roll charts.Sunday featured Clace Nortena, Santa Paula’s own Spanish Country Western group, Nuestro and chart-topping Yari More’.

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