County’s 150th embraces life, equity, and acceptance

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Ventura–The Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, December 19, received a report summarizing the County’s 150th Anniversary.

Economic Vitality Manager Gloria Martinez presented the report and wanted to update the Board on the report she made to the Board on March 28.

“At that time, we were just embarking on an almost year-long campaign to engage individuals, artists, culture-bearers, storytellers, filmmakers, authors, historians, photographers, teachers, librarians, philanthropists, and others in sharing their perspectives on the history of this wonderful County that we call home,” she said. “I’m proud and happy to say that we accomplished that.”

She praised the Museum of Ventura and called them an excellent partner, as they coordinated most of the activities and the staff, which included dozens of agencies, service organizations, volun­teers, and culture bearers.

“They produced a series of events and activities, a major music festival, a Countywide Community Festival, a museum exhibit, the State of the County, and much more,” Martinez said. “The County is also especially grateful to the City of Santa Paula for hosting the flagship event, Mountains to the Sea Jubilee and Music Festival. The City staff and local community-based organizations went above and beyond in their preparations, which included working with the Museum and the County on permitting an unprecedented event in terms of size and scale.”

She said Veteran’s Park, next to the historic downtown, was the perfect setting for such a family-friendly celebration.

Museum of Ventura County Executive Director Elena Brokaw was honored to work with the County of Ventura and said the staff is fantastic.

“It’s usual to work with such a proactive staff,” she said. “I’m the one standing here, but I’m just the mouthpiece. There are seven members of our Board here today; it’s almost a quorum, as well as members of staff and many in the room who made this happen.” She acknowledged their presence on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded land of the Chumash people.

“We seek to prioritize respect for the Chumash culture and the contemporary and future presence of Native Americans and other indigenous people throughout Ventura County,” she said. “We recognize the Chumash as the original stewards of this land while simultaneously recognizing our collective responsibility together to continue to care for the land.”

She said that spirit ran through most of the 150th Anniversary.

“We had over 17,000 people participate across Ventura County in all the districts in many events and online programs,” Brokaw said. “It was really something that touched a lot of people, and it was really something to get where they were.”

She said the Kickoff Event, Friday, June 23, attracted 930 people, including a VIP Reception with all VC150 sponsors and elected officials at the Museum of Ventura County in District One.

“The final installation of Ventura County was in the place we call home, at the Rancho Simi District Community Center two weeks ago,” she said. “There are four satellites of this exhibit. It’s more of an installation with various stations that gave a platform to Ventura residents to really describe what Ventura County means to them.”

She said the main exhibit is at the Santa Paula Agriculture Museum and is available until October 2024.

“The others are in Thousand Oaks at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center, Oxnard College at Condor Hall, and the Rancho Simi Activity Center,” she said.

The Mountains to Sea Jubilee in Santa Paula Family Fair at and around Santa Paula’s Agricultural Museum, she said, featured food, trucks, a kids’ zone, community stages, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, historical walking tours, arts & crafts stations, sheriff’s search and rescue dogs, historical enactors, performances, community workshops, information and trivia booths, and more.

“This brought thousands of people to Santa Paula,” Brokaw said. “Many of them had never been there before, and I want to say that Santa Paula never looked so good. We had representatives from Santa Paula City Hall, the Santa Paula Chamber, representatives from the Santa Paula City Council.”

She said an amazing music festival highlighted the day.

“We wanted to make this free, but we couldn’t do it because we had to think about crowd control, so it had a $20 ticket price,” she said. “The Ventura County Community Foundation provided the grant funds. “The funds we got were able to keep the cost for people to enjoy these things less than one-fifth of what the actual cost was.”

She said the City of Santa Paula performed well, and it organized their annual cleanup day and took care of trees and painting.

“They laid out the carpet for people to come to Santa Paula,” Martinez said.

The 150th Anniversary of Ventura County had pop-up celebrations, she said, bringing the history of the County to the people in all five districts.

“Not everybody knows that history is cool,” she said. “A lot of people think of it as boring. We were able to take these pop-up celebrations into other programs that were happening, and we had wonderful games and amazing prizes. We used our games to try and teach the people about the history and also to teach them that we were just the top of the iceberg and there is so much more they can learn. Our County is one like no other, and we were able to get to them right where they were already enjoying their programs.”

The County received Community Partnership Grants, she said, as 54 proposals were awarded with $40,000 in funds provided to the community.

“We didn’t want to be the only partner to the County celebrating the 150th Anniversary,” Martinez said. “We took some of the sponsored funds, and we created this program. We gave out grants from $100 to $ 1,700 to 54 individual artists, non-profit organizations, and community groups. This included Latino Town Hall, many Chumash artists, and this included Art Trek in Thousand Oaks. This reached across the County, and we reached every City in the County, and we were able to support them as part of the programs.”

She said they have many continuing online programs, including the Digital Puzzles.

“They are continuing in each City and are incredibly popular,” she said. “Feast or Flop was a hoot in which we take old recipes and recreate them. It’s very fun.”

She said the Ventura County Library was involved, producing 10 programs during the 150 days.

“Your new-ish Cultural Affairs Manager applied for and received a Cal Humanities Grant, and that $25,000 was able to fund all the programs, which is really remarkable,” she said.


This article was originally published by the Tri County Sentry.

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