Santee Bluegrass Festival a decade of good times

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Photo by Bethany Nash. (L-R) Shawna Roberts, Randy Cole and Kathy Cole enjoy their first Bluegrass Festival in Santee.

More than 1,800 Santee residents and 80 vendors gathered together to support their local parks and programs.

This past Saturday, Sept. 14, the city of Santee hosted their 10th Annual Bluegrass Festival Fundraiser.

Local eateries, breweries and wineries were in attendance to offer their support and provide guests with a variety of palate pleasers. Some of the vendors included Seven Caves Spirits, The Wrap Shack, Burning Beard Brewing Co., Raising Canes Chicken Fingers and Starbucks, etc.

“This is so different from our usual crowd in Mira Mar,” said Collin Davies of Malahat Spirits, a North County rum and whiskey distillery. “Everyone here are such connoisseurs, so open to trying new things. It is such an inclusive environment rather than exclusive.”

Upon arriving at the festival, the sound of Soulful Blues fills the evening air and the pathway is filled with hay bales and wild flowers to greet one as they enter the social. One is quickly drawn to the crowds of people in the distance exploring all of the different things to taste at what feels like endless rows of white pop up tents set up across the grass.

At a little black table Tom and Kathy Salsbery relax as they sip their beer while listening to the music for the third year in a row.

“It is nice. We love it. The samples, free food, and wine. I like the Cooper and Thief wine,” Kathy said.

As one begins to approach the booths and explore the delicious options displayed before them, the friendly faces of local employees and volunteers invite one to indulge on all the sights and smells that are quickly flooding the senses.

Corinna Scafidi and Laurie Doyle, employees of Nicolosi’s Italian Restaurant, explained that they attend many festivals, as the restaurant works to continually give back to the community, however the Santee Bluegrass Festival is a standout event.

“It is a really nice venue and well put together,” said Scafidi.

Doyle chimed in that she likes, “seeing the people enjoying themselves.”

The event is a great way for friends to gather together as explained by Kathy Cole, Randy Cole, and Shawna Roberts who were attending for their first year and said they were all definitely planning on coming back.

Bluegrass also found itself being a tradition for some friends as it is for Shiloh Beckerley, Aimee Zeitz, Justin Gruber and Cherelle Hemsley who have been attending together for the last four years.

“Once you go one year, you are going to come back,” Beckerley said, “I like the variety of all the different local breweries and wineries. It is cool learning about all of these that I didn’t even know existed.”

As one begins to approach the stage at the front of the event, a group of carefree spirits find themselves dancing to the soulful, upbeat tunes of MohaviSoul. Every person that comes up to join in is quickly grabbed by the hand and pulled in to join the circle.

The women spin their dresses in a series of circles, lovers slow dancing and share a sweet kiss, and the remainder deliberate together to line dance and hop around in celebration of a goodtime.

MohaviSoul has performed at the Santee Bluegrass Festival for the last four years, and has headlined the event for the last three years.

Singer and one of the songwriters for the band, Mark Miller, stated, “It is a very receptive crowd. Tons of people come with their folding chairs and just post up and listen to the music.”

Miller continued as to explain what makes this particular event a band favorite, “They have a great sound crew…Makes it easy to focus on presenting our music in the best way that we can to the audience.”

For those, who found MohaviSoul to satisfy their music tastebuds, their songs are available for download on their website at mohavisoul.com.

As the clock quickly began to approach nine, guests made their final bids at the auction for chances at a large variety of prizes and goodies. Soon after everyone began to close their folding chairs as the band played their final song and began the walk to their cars. Thus, concluded a decade of the Santee Bluegrass Festival.