Rodeo’s Steak & Stein dinner, Cindy Collins leaving River Conservancy and more


One of the many things the New Year brings our community is the Steak and Stein dinner at the Lakeside Rodeo grounds. The annual meal serves to bring together Lakeside community members to mingle, show appreciation, consider sponsorships, and remind us of just how fortunate we are to have the El Capitan Stadium Association. 

One of the many things the New Year brings our community is the Steak and Stein dinner at the Lakeside Rodeo grounds. The annual meal serves to bring together Lakeside community members to mingle, show appreciation, consider sponsorships, and remind us of just how fortunate we are to have the El Capitan Stadium Association. 

The Jan. 12 event also honored Daryl Priest for his loyalty, inspiration, and support of east county kids and, in particular, his involvement with Lakeside youth. Daryl, a native of El Cajon, has regularly demonstrated his commitment to youth and the community by not only giving generously to the ECSA, but by simply being there for the kids as a role model and supporter. He summed up his efforts succinctly: “It’s all for the kids.”

Speakers praised Daryl’s enthusiasm and involvement, including El Cap Principal Laura Whitaker, who has known Daryl and his work since her days at El Cajon Valley High School, and vice principal Joe Cota. State Senator Joel Anderson and Assemblyman Randy Voepel honored Daryl with kind words and a heartfelt Resolution from the State Legislature. Others who presented included Victoria Floyd from Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s office and Bonnie LaChappa from the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.

The ECSA dates back to the construction of El Capitan High School, its initial goal to raise funds to build a football field. Having accomplished that, the group continued to raise money to benefit the high school and its programs. Most famously, the annual rodeos have been a big part of that. 

By the late 1980’s, ECSA realized there were more local youth programs that needed their financial assistance. They altered their charter to officially focus on the youth of Lakeside. Today, there’s hardly a group serving kids in this community that doesn’t benefit from the ECSA and their generosity. It is truly an exemplary organization.

In 2016, ECSA donated over $81,000 to local youth, teachers, schools, and community youth leaders. They awarded over $7,000 in various scholarships to students, helping recognized at-risk kids to complete high school and assisting graduating seniors who are going on to college or a trade school. Recently, ECSA purchased a basketball “shooting machine” for El Cap’s program and funded a Future Farmers of America program for Lakeside Middle School (now the only middle school in Southern California with a full FFA program).

Sam Walker, ESCA President, announced an exciting new event set to debut in October 2018: a Farmer’s Market at the Rodeo Grounds. Plans call for the market to be open to the public on Tuesdays from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.  It will be a joint operation with our very own Van Ommering Dairy Farm as a partner. (More on that as the date approaches.)

Events and organizations like the ECSA are vital to the community and illustrate what often sets Lakeside apart from other towns. Check out their website at:

On the River

Lakeside’s River Park Conservancy is losing its Membership and Volunteer Manager. After nearly 14 years on the job, Cindy Collins is moving on, though not without mixed feelings of joy and sadness.

A native of Fremont, Nebraska (where the daytime temperature was recently a frisky 12-degrees), Cindy arrived in San Diego to attend SDSU back in 1985. Some of her first memories here include the tragic Normal Heights Fire, the removal from office of then-San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, and the Challenger shuttle disaster. She eventually graduated with a B.A. in Fine Art, which led to a job with the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, an all-volunteer organization. After six years there, Cindy applied to the Lakeside River Park and was hired in March 2004.

The Conservancy was in still in its infancy when Cindy started working there. Four people, including Executive Director Robin Rierdon, were jammed into a small, single room building on Waterhill Road. “A lot of work came out of that little office,” Cindy remembers, including the development of a volunteer and membership program for the organization.

Cindy tells a funny story of their very first “Once in a Blue Moon” fundraiser back in 2007. The event was held on the San Diego River Trail itself, on the north side near the observation platform. They had to take everything there: tables, chairs, lights … and electricity. The site was far away from any utilities, so a generator was necessary. They had everything set up and ready to go when, just before the 300 guests were to arrive, they plugged into the generator for power. There was a small problem – the generator didn’t work. After some moments of near panic, a volunteer came to the rescue (the late Patrick Russell). Though Russell was assigned to assist with parking, he was an electrician by trade. After some tinkering, he soon had the generator up and running, thus saving the Conservancy from certain disaster. After that, things seemed a little easier for Cindy.

When asked what she will miss the most, Cindy doesn’t hesitate: “the volunteers and members.” She has developed many friendships over her years here. Her work has given her a great sense of accomplishment and pride in learning something about which she knew nothing when she first came to work – arid river restoration. She will be missed but is leaving the Conservancy in good hands. Alisha Curtin was been working with Cindy for nearly a year and is ready to step in and continue the work. And Cindy promises to visit on occasion.

For Your Calendar

The next One Street at a Time event is scheduled for Saturday, January 20, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Meet at the old Von’s lot, 12421 Woodside Avenue.

Interested in the history and impact of storm water on Lindo Lake Park? Senior Park Ranger David Collins leads a twice-monthly tour discussing these subjects and how they are planning for the future of the centerpiece of our community. Meet by the kiosk at the main park entrance at 10:00 a.m. on Jan. 22, Feb. 5 or 26. There are more dates in March, April and May. Call (619) 443-9176 for more info.

Also on the lake

Lindo Lake Park Ranger Brian Ek is hosting a free event for kids of all ages on the first Saturday of every month. Hike the lake and learn about native plants and birds. Learn how to identify local wildlife by their tracks. Call (619) 443-1666 to RSVP.

And finally, on every Sunday at 2:00 p.m., you can hear all about the new Butterfly Garden next to the Ranger’s Office in the park. Lots of fun and interesting stuff going on at Lindo Lake Park!.