Chamber’s Randy Lopez brings back Village Venture in a big way

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Village Venture, one of Claremont’s largest annual outdoor events, is back from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, October 23 after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns.

Last year would have marked the 39th annual Venture, so this year’s event will now take on that designation.

“It feels great,” said Claremont Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Lopez. “It’s nice to finally be able to do something and really use Village Venture as an open house for not just Claremont, but for the entire community and all of Southern California. It’s nice as we’re trying to get back to normal.”

The Venture brought in about 20,000 festival goers and 475 vendors in 2019. It is the chamber’s primary source of funding, netting more than $70,000 in 2019, which represented about 80 percent of its operating budget.

This year about 300 vendors are participating.

Lopez said he wasn’t surprised booth reservations were down by 25% this year. It’s a downturn many similar events have seen across the region.

“I think it’s following a little bit of that trend,” he said. “And I think some of the vendors might be taking a year off. They haven’t had shows for the most part for close to two years now, so being able to have the amount of work and product, and that investment, has affected some. But on the other hand, it’s going to feel like a normal Village Venture. We’re going to have our parade, we’re going to have the music, we’re going to have the food, and it should just be a beautiful day.”

The music schedule at Shelton Park is as follows: noon to 1 p.m., solo acoustic performer James Donaldson; 1:15 to 2:30 p.m., bluegrass with the High Strung Band; and still more bluegrass from the Honey Buckets from 2:45 to 4 p.m.

The Carly Moultrie Singers kick things off from noon to 1 p.m. on the Depot stage, followed by the Claremont Ukulele Club from 1:15 to 2 p.m.; performers from the Claremont School of Music from 2:15 to 3 p.m.; and Taiko drums from Village Dance Arts closing things out from 3:15 to 4 p.m.

Things do seem to be opening up, albeit cautiously, after a false start in late June was put on hold after the Delta variant hit in July.

“It’s really nice that things are happening again,” Lopez said. “Rotary just did a barbeque event yesterday. So, it’s nice. It’s nice that everybody and the organizations are getting back.”

The Village Venture follows all of the Los Angeles County guidelines for outdoor events. It’s not a “mega event” with more than 10,000 people, so patrons are not required to wear masks outdoors.

“We’re outside, which is great,” Lopez said. “So, we’re in a safer place. Similar to other events that are going on now, there’s more and more events that are going on throughout the community, in L.A., and all over the place, it has relaxed. So with that we’re asking everyone to bring masks with them and if they do go inside the four walls of any of our businesses inside the Village area, that they do wear their masks inside. But outside they don’t have to.”

 

Conveniently, Hendricks Pharmacy, at 137 Harvard Ave., is open during Village Venture and offers COVID vaccinations and flu shots. Go to https://myturn.ca.gov to make an appointment for a COVID vaccination or booster dose. Flu shots are available on a walk-in basis. Call Hendricks at (909) 624-1611 for more information.

Organizers are also mixing it up this year in that they’ve moved some familiar vendors to different areas. There will be entertainment at the Depot and Shelton Park, with a beer and wine garden across the street from Shelton.

In a first, the Venture’s traditional food vendors on First St. will be replaced by food trucks this year.

“Food trucks allow them to be more self-contained, have all of their dishwashing, safety, sanitary, all of those things more in a contained area,” Lopez said. “So the health department is really excited and happy that we’re doing that. Most importantly with food trucks it allows us to get some fun new tastes and flavors into the Village.”

It will be up to the vendors themselves to comply with L.A. County COVID protocols for outdoor public events, Lopez said.

“I think the vendors and everybody are cognizant, they’ll be taking care of their own safety precautions. I think everybody now has felt comfortable with outdoor events.”

Lopez said he recently attended the L.A. County “Small Bite” Fair, and was hoping Village Venture would provide a community experience along those lines.

“I think folks were so happy and relieved to be outside and having a normal shopping experience,” he said. “And I don’t think they haven’t been; if you gone to [Claremont’s] farmer’s market for weeks and weeks, we’ve gone back to normal with that quite a long time ago.”

For more information, including maps for vendors and parking, go to  https://www.claremontchamber.org/village-venture-arts-crafts. Folks can get also get info via email to: info@claremontchamber.org, and are invited to follow the Venture on Instagram at  @village_venture, or Facebook at @VillageVenture.

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