New City Manager & the Walnut Festival is coming!

Walnut Creek has a new City Manager as of August 7th: Dan Buckshi. I attended a welcoming reception at Lesher last week. After 15 years in San Luis Obispo County and the last five as County Administrative Officer (similar to County Manager), Dan is excited to be in Walnut Creek.

He just wrote his first City Manager’s Update, including a nugget about the Walnut Festival …

via Patch.com

If you’re new to Walnut Creek  – or haven’t been in some time like myself – I recommend going to the festival! I especially have wonderful memories with my boys and as they got into their tweens. It was a safe place to drop them off for a couple of hours, allowing them to gain some independence. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who show up to ride the rides, test out the carnival food and play games.

There is also live music and performances, and the nearby glory of Heather Farm Park in and of itself. This is truly the biggest event of the year in Walnut Creek.

Don’t forget about the nostalgic twilight parade that kicks off the event is this Saturday at 6 p.m.  It will travel along Walnut Creek’s Main Street from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Civic Drive, ending at Civic Park.

This year’s theme, “Through The Wide Eyes of a Child,” is all about imagination and whimsically-created costumes, floats, decorated cars, motorcycles, bicycles, bands, drill teams, cheer teams
and all others who will entertain us with their talents and creativity.  They are encouraging people to join in on the theme and attend the parade in costume.

The Carnival portion of the 81st Annual Walnut Festival will take place from September 21-24 at Heather Farms.

Did you know the original festival was held in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival? For more information and a little bit of history, you can visit The Walnut Festival Association website here.

Enjoy this wonderful Walnut Creek tradition!!!

Old Borges Ranch Day this Saturday

This Saturday, you can join Walnut Creek City staff for Old Borges Ranch Day. How cool is that? There will be arts, crafts, activities, games, livestock demonstrations, ponies and fiddlers.

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Borges Ranch is the little farm nestled into the foothills of Mt. Diablo, on the southeast side of Shell Ridge. It was established in 1899 by Francisco Borges and is a living example of what an early-20th century California cattle ranch looked like.

Many of the original buildings still exist, including the Borges family home which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981 and is part of the Mt. Diablo State Park with an on-site ranger. Sheep, goats, and other livestock roam the farm and welcome hikers who wander past during their Open Space treks.

The almost 400-acre ranch would be a great place for the family to spend a lazy Saturday, and a great learning experience for young kids. I went on a field trip with my now-21-year-old son when he was in the 4th grade; we went back there to get polliwogs, which lived in his bedroom until they turned to frogs. Then we let them go into the creek by Las Lomas – some great memories.

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Image from walnut-creek.org

The event this Saturday will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you can park at Northgate High School and shuttle in and out. It costs just $5 per family to take part!

Don’t miss the Parkmead Garden Tour this Sunday!

My Parkmead neighborhood, in Walnut Creek, is hosting a Garden Tour this Sunday. Come by and check it out if you have a chance!

Get to know the Parkmead neighborhood and learn about the local flora and fauna that thrive in our Mediterranean climate. We have 8 gardens participating this year!

Here are the details:

  • Sun, Apr 30
  • 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Maps available at 1701 Lilac Drive
    As listed above, you can pick up your Garden Tour map at 1701 Lilac Dr., anytime between 1 pm and 4 pm on Sunday, April 30th. 
We will feature a garden designed by our very own resident landscape designer, Janet Cohen and one with Admirals Choice discussing irrigation, drought resistant plants and sprinklers that can be controlled by your phone.  Plus the non-profit Sustainable Contra Costa, will have information on raising chickens at home and sustainable gardening tips. They will also have a “sheet mulching” demonstration and composting discussion! Additionally, we will be sharing some info on beekeeping at home and composting.
For more information please visit our website: http://www.parkmead.org/Home_Page.html or contact events@parkmead.org. Can’t wait to see you there!

P.S. We will also be accepting donations to finish the walking path that takes you to Parkmead Elementary School. It has many potholes and when it rains, many puddles. Thus students, dog walkers and neighbors divert them by walking into the street!

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April events to mark on your calendar!

Believe it or not, it’s already almost April! As the calendar turns from winter to spring, Diablo Magazine has provided a few awesome ideas for local events in the Bay Area next month.

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Here are four of the best ones that I’m personally interested in going to:

The Naked Magicians: April 3rd at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater

An Australian duo who put on “the world’s naughtiest magic show,” complete with illusions and comedy. Adults only!

Bay Area Craft Beer Festival: April 22nd at Martinez waterfront

More than 50 local breweries, live music and food trucks from all over the East Bay? Yes, please!

Diablo Trails Challenge: April 15th at Mt. Diablo

You can choose from a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and a 50K. Partial proceeds go to Save Mount Diablo!

Monet: The Early Years: Through May 29th at Legion of Honor (San Francisco)

You can get a cool perspective on Claude Monet’s early period of work, covering his evolution to Impressionism at the SF Legion of Honor.

Leave a comment if you know any other fun things to do next month!

Walnut Festival coming this weekend!

This Thursday through Sunday, The Walnut Festival will be put on for the 80th time. The Festival is a rite of passage for young Walnut Creek residents, and probably anyone who has lived here for a few years has experienced it at some point.

I looked up a little history on the Festival that I’d like to share:

  • First Festival was in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival
  • In 1936, the name officially changed to The Walnut Festival
  • In 1976, it was officially relocated to Heather Farm Park for good

Among other things, The Walnut Festival offers fun carnival rides, tons of food options and a bunch of cool entertainment. The Walnut Festival Association runs the show and will give discounted tickets ($6 instead of $7) to anyone who brings a can of food for donation to the gates.

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Courtesy: thewalnutfestival.org

The Walnut Festival will run from 5-10 p.m. on Thursday, 5-11 p.m. on Friday, 11-11 on Saturday, and 11-8 on Sunday. Don’t miss out!

Live music in Broadway Plaza!

Courtesy: Foreverland.com
Courtesy: Foreverland.com

Looking for something to do on a lazy weeknight in Walnut Creek? Maybe craving another local live music show after your BottleRock or OutsideLands weekends? Well, you’re in luck!

Broadway Plaza is hosting its Summer Concert Series every Thursday night of this month. Each concert is free and open to the public from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

You’ve already missed one show on August 4th, but you can still catch:

  • Foreverland on August 11th
  • Mustache Harbor on August 18th
  • Tainted Love on August 25th.

Also, don’t forget the Party in the Plaza on September 1st: it’s a special event featuring a concert with Mark McGrath and Pop Rocks! For more information, click here. broadway plaza

This year’s event will be located in Broadway Plaza’s brand new Event Plaza, which is near Macy’s and the newly opened Broadway Lane.

They don’t allow outside food or beverage, but will sell both at the shows! Of course, you could always wander over to pretty much any bar or restaurant for a drink or a bite afterward from that location, too.

Walnut Creek continues to find cool ways to get its people outside this summer – enjoy and have a great time!   Just bit bummed about not bringing my cooler, but maybe that keeps it free!

Where to See Fireworks in Contra Costa County this Weekend

4th of julyFor the 24 years I have lived in Walnut Creek, there have been no public 4th of July fireworks displays. According to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, fireworks are illegal in the county, so good luck trying to put on your own show!

However, you can buy fireworks in Alameda County – Dublin is not that far away – but with the drought, the law is probably a good thing to abide by.

Luckily, some cities close by are shooting off fireworks, so grab a spot on a hill, go to the location itself, or maybe a friend has a bird’s eye view from their house:

  • Antioch – Contra Costa Fairgrounds (Dusk)
  • Benicia – Benicia City Park (9:00 p.m.)
  • Berkeley – Berkeley Marina (9:30 p.m.)
  • Concord – Mt. Diablo High School & Todos Santos Plaza (9:00 p.m.)
  • Livermore – Downtown (Dusk)
  • Martinez – Waterfront (9:30 p.m.)
  • Moraga – Moraga Country Club (Dusk)
  • Pittsburg – Pittsburg Marina (Dusk)
  • Pleasant Hill – College Park High School & Pleasant Hill Country Club (9:10 p.m.)
  • Pleasanton – Alameda County Fairgrounds (9:30 p.m.)
  • Richmond – Marina Bay Park (9:15 p.m.)
  • San Ramon – Central Park (9:30 p.m.)

Have a safe, happy 4th of July!

Summer Music in Walnut Creek

Who doesn’t love sitting in the grass under a warm summer sun, jamming to some live music? Opportunities to do so are common in the Bay Area, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money or travel to San Francisco for a music festival to do so.

guitarIn fact, two events are happening in Walnut Creek this summer that may be the perfect fit for someone looking to take in an easy, cheap outdoor concert.

Summer Sounds Outside is a series of free concerts on the Lesher Center for the Arts plaza. On June 30th from 5:30-7:00 p.m., Box Set Duo Trio – who has played with artists like Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson – performs. You can take your pick from jazz to classical to acapella – check out the lineup and additional dates on their website here.  In addition to Box Set Duo Trio, Chris Cain, Anderson & Roe and Blue Jupiter A Capella will perform this summer.

If you’re still looking for something fun to do on 4th of July, you can check out a free musical tribute by the Walnut Creek Concert Band (under the direction of Harvey Benstein). Head out to Civic Park before 6 p.m. to catch the show!

Always a fun evening, so don’t forget about the Broadway Plaza Summer Concert Series, which has live performances every Thursday night in August:

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  • August 4th: Petty Theft
  • August 11th: Foreverland
  • August 18th: Mustache Harbor
  • August 25th: Tainted Love

Hope to see you there!

 

A Walnut Creek Art Show…Made from LEGO’s!

IMG_7796Everybody is familiar with the little multi-colored plastic bricks that we all used to build towers and spaceships out of. Well, New York artist Nathan Sawaya has taken LEGO creativity to a whole new level. He builds everything from life-size skulls to dresses out of LEGO’s.

If you visit the Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts through December 20th, you can see Sawaya’s exhibition “The Art of the Brick” and a collaboration with photographer Dean West called “In Pieces.”

The art looks truly amazing and impressive. Whether you go alone or take your kids, this is a fun way to spend a few hours in downtown Walnut Creek this holiday season.IMG_7830

On Tuesday, I visited the Bedford Gallery to see the exhibit myself. One that really caught my eye was “Dress,” which shows a woman’s red dress, made entirely out of LEGO’s, disintegrating into the wind. According to the placard next to the piece in the exhibit, the piece leaves it up to the viewer to decide who she is, why she is standing there, and what happens to the little red bricks of her dress floating in the wind.

Another cool exhibit is his multi-colored skulls which represent his rocky past with LEGO, which initially sent him a cease and desist letter for his work using the trademark.
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The artist’s ability to speak to the emotions of the viewer and human nature in general is what makes the artwork resonate with me. His intricate portrayals of human nature and the general struggles one faces in a lifetime is what draws us in. The ability to create these messages out of a children’s toy is what will keep me coming back.

Bedford Gallery will also display an exhibition of sculpture by Jud Bergeron during this time, which reflect the experiences of becoming a parent. To see all the exhibitions at Bedford Gallery, get more information here.

General admission for “The Art of Brick” is $7, youth (5-17) are $3 and children 4 and under are free. Also, First Tuesdays are free admission for everyone. This weekend, it’s free with an arts and crafts show dispersed throughout the Lesher Center. Go check it out! Here are some more photos of “The Art of the Brick” exhibit below:

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