Serving the community since 1970

Wasco Rose Festival returns bigger and better

The 2023 Wasco Rose Festival brought thousands of people out to celebrate the "You've Got a Friend in Wasco" event that included many activities for a fun-filled day for the community.

It started with the Reach for the Sky Color Blast Fun Run hosted by the Wasco Recreation and Parks District. Participants enjoyed a 3K walk and 5K fun run around Barker Park, where they were doused with colorful powders.

WRPD Manager Chris Serna said, "It was fun, colorful and bright. We wanted to do it again for a second time. We had such a successful turnout last year, and having this kick off the festival's final day was great."

A participant, Mary Vargas, added, "The best part was that all of the funds raised will go back into our community, and it teaches the little ones the importance of being involved in contributing to future family events."

For Ayvah Romero, she said it was challenging, but she got through it. "It was everything I expected and more."

Robin Villalpando said, "It was my first 5K run, and it was wonderful. I had a good time, and hopefully, I can do it again."

Following the color run was the Traveling Tigers Forky's Pancake Breakfast. Club advisor Katie Moreno said, "It was our first time doing this breakfast. We sold many tickets ahead of time and had a steady stream of pick-ups."

The event was a fundraiser for the Wasco High School students planning to visit Japan this year.

"This is going to help the kids that are going. It's just one fundraiser that we do, and every little bit helps and helping to keep the Rose Festival going, we were happy to support."

The highly anticipated parade occurred after where this year's Grand Marshals, the Charles Wedel family, and Honorary Marshals VFW Post 6742 led the procession.

Parade judge Rusvel Prado was one of five, including Kourtney Johnson, Blanca Soto, Karen Holtermann and Rosa Romero.

He said, "It's a great event. I remember coming as a child and being on the Packer football float. I looked forward to seeing everyone I haven't seen in a while, everyone that the festival brings out, and even those that have moved out of town."

There were 41 parade entries, and prizes were awarded to the best based on appearance, creativity and originality.

For the float category, 1st place went to LifeHouse Church, 2nd place was the Thomas Jefferson Leadership Class and 3rd the Miss Wasco Rose Queen Pageant.

In the equestrian category, 1st place went to the Kern County Sheriff's Mounted Posse and 2nd place to Juan Sandoval.

The top vehicles entry went to Cruzin' Oldies Car Club; 2nd place was the Golf Cart Crew; and 3rd place was the Kern County Fire Department.

WHS ASB, cheer and athletics took 1st place in the schools category, 2nd place for the WHS Tiger Marching Band and 3rd for the Wasco Junior and Wasco Minis Color Guard.

Finally, for the walking entries, 1st place went to Wasco Tigers Tae Kwon Do, 2nd to Grocery Outlet and 3rd to the Bakersfield Young Marines.

The Wasco Union Elementary School District Expanded Learning Opportunities float was among the other entries. "We had 20 kids participate. It was a way to highlight what our program offers, such as enrichment and after-school activities," ELOP Supervisor Ayana Cordova said.

The local organization, The Scarers, whose members range in age from 5 to 45, were there to bring smiles to everybody, Estella Ross said. "This is our third time in the parade. We loved seeing everyone get so excited."

Erica Bravo with Casa Vida Life House Church said they wanted their float to stay in line with the theme of Toy Story with costumes and t-shirts with the message you have a friend in Jesus to go along with that.

Samantha Bravo, also with Casa Vida Life House Church, added, "It was special for the kids because they were able to dress up and praise the name of Jesus and spread his word."

"Today, we gave free snow cones, water and prayer requests. We did that to show our love to our community from our church and Jesus."

Casi Cortez said she hadn't attended the parade since high school in 2010. "That was the last time. It feels good to be back and see how the tradition continues. I missed it. It's cool to get out into the world for a little while, return, and just be right at home."

For Jose Villareal, he said the parade was longer than in other years. "I liked the participation of the city and everybody involved. There were a lot of people we hardly see, but this was a good chance to talk again and see old faces, which is really nice."

Eleven-year-old Braden Dugan rode in a golf court with his brother, Prince, and his Nina, Christi Johnson, said, "It was awesome to be in the parade. I liked dressing up in my Toy Story costume, and I liked most getting recognized by people. I saw a lot of my friends."

After the parade, the community made their way to Barker Park for an art show, car show, music, food, cold drinks and many vendors selling plants, jewelry, Mexican artisanal clothing and much more.

Paul Reed said of the art show that showcased original work by WHS students, "All of the art was great and very realistic. The artists are all very talented for their age."

There were genres ranging from watercolors, acrylic paintings, oil pastels, pencils and torn paper.

Julie Pineo has been an art teacher in the district for 25 years. She said the artwork is an expression of the students.

"It's something they can't put in words, but they can put it in a picture. As a teacher, I am proud of them and the kind of work they displayed today."

Cecy Gonzalez came to enjoy the festival activities at the park and said, "We went straight to the food. I brought a blanket to lay out under the shade. We enjoyed it. I shopped at the toy stand for my three little girls."

"It was warm, but it was great. We are having a good time, and it's something we look forward to every year."

Among the vendors was Teresa Torres of Plazita Torres. "I had good sales, and a lot of people stopped by. It was my first time at the vendor fair, and I am happy I could participate. The organizers did a good job putting it together."

Julissa Raya said of the festival, "It was very energetic and lively. The weather was good and not too hot. I got to walk around and see all of the vendors. There were lots of different items to look at and buy."

Strata Credit Union was also there. Flor Arreola said, "We are here today to educate and inform people about the opening of Strata in early November and share with the community that we are here to answer any questions or concerns they may have about the credit union."

Orquidea Ocampo of the Wasco Rose Festival committee and Orange Heart Foundation was in charge of the park festival.

"We had over 50 vendors, and it was a good turnout from last year. We had a lot of positive comments from people. Next year, we will expand it a little more."

"I want to thank all our partners, sponsors, volunteers and the entire community for coming together and making this happen."

The car show was also a big hit for those who attended the festival. Car enthusiast Raciel Mendez said, "There were friendly vibes for those who came to see our cars. We had classic, imports, trucks, exotics and motorcycles."

Lucio Rivera, another car enthusiast with the show, said they had over 30 vehicles on display. "All these cars are custom built. Each owner has a story behind their original vehicle."

To add to the fun, the Wasco Historical Society Museum was open for people to visit.

The Sanchez family stopped by. Viviana Sanchez said, "I came here when I was a little girl on a school field trip."

"After all these years, I liked all the artifacts. We enjoyed looking around, and the best part was bringing the kids to learn about the history of Wasco."

Marlene Swan, museum vice-president, added, "We had a steady crowd come in today, which makes my heart glad."

"People had fun with the annuals looking up relatives. It was a big attraction," Secretary Earlynne Woolly said. "A lot of out-of-town people came out here today."

Another highlight was the Block and Tackle WHS football booster club-sponsored Deep Pit Dinner.

Board member Chad Martinez said, "We are returning for a second year, which was extremely successful. We were able to sell out, and people were still coming back asking for more."

"The money raised will go towards buying essential items for the WHS football teams. We sold over 700 dinners today, and we will be back again next year."

Topping off the three-day celebration that also included the Miss Wasco Rose Queen Pageant, the Wasco Elk Ladies presented the Evening of Wine and Roses Under the Stars honored guest reception, and the 2nd to None and Orange Heart Foundation men's basketball tournament.

Eddie Velasquez said, "All the players, parents and fans had a good time. They want to do it again next year."

"We had a total of eight teams, including a team from Los Angeles that came to be a part of the tournament. There was also a kid's game, and they were excited to play.

"Our sponsor, Chris Washington, purchased our uniforms in the 'You've Got a Friend in Wasco' theme."

"The players were amazing, and there were close, intense games and tough competition. It was a fun weekend of basketball. Segundo A Ninguno ended up winning."

"Thanks to my volunteers who helped run the tournament, including my wife, Erica, daughter Viney and Luke Ortiz."

The Wasco Rose Festival couldn't have been better this year, said one of the organizers, Sharon Sharp.

"It was a wonderful event. Every year, our vendors and parade participants increase. It is our legacy event, and it never fails to bring joy. People had fun. We'll see you in December at the Wasco Rose Festival Christmas event."


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