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Dramatic effort to save Bonitafest Robert Moreno | Sat, Jun 14 2014 12:00 PM

With the 41st annual Bonita­fest on life support, several community members are not ready to pull the plug on it just yet.

The Bonita Business and Professional Association — the event’s title sponsor — announced May 20 that it was cancelling the community event as it was also disbanding as an association.

But Southwestern College professor Max Branscomb, who sits on the Bonitafest committee, held a community meeting Tuesday to discuss ideas to go about reviving the longtime community festival.

“As far as, like, doing the full-scale Bonitafest, we kind of have our backs against the wall,” Branscomb said.

Branscomb said that securing the appropriate permits from the city of Chula Vista and the county can take up to 90 days. That’s time Branscomb said the group doesn’t have as it seeks to hold the event on its original planned date of Sept. 13.

For years Bonitafest was held at the Bonnie Brae Shopping Center. Last year’s event, Branscomb said, cost about $19,500 to produce, which included having the parade and closing streets for the fair.

Of that cost, Branscomb said he was told by the BBPA that $6,500 was for a motocross attraction, about $1,500 to close the street and about $10,500 for other expenses.

Branscomb said the Chula Vista Police Department has said it would cost about $17,000 for them to patrol the event, but the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said they would do it for about $1,500.

Branscomb, one of the founders of the Bonitafest Melodrama, said he still plans to continue writing the play even if the event is cancelled.

“The melodrama is financially independent of the Bonitafest and has been for 30 years. I call it Bonitafest Melodrama for its roots and because I love Bonita­fest,” he said.

Branscomb said he is simply trying to salvage Bonitafest “for my kids and my community.”

Linda Berke, who is in charge of the entertainment for Bonita­fest, pitched the idea to have Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista as the home for the 2014 Bonitafest.

She said Bonita Vista High School would make it cost effective as they wouldn’t have to shut down the streets and the only permit needed is one for each food vendor.

She also said money can be saved by opening the bathrooms and the cafeteria to the school.

Branscomb said if the high school has the event then there won’t be an actual street festival or a need for the motocross attraction, which can save additional money for putting on the event.

Berke said she has already received permission from the Bonita Vista High School principal and the Associated Student Body to host Bonitafest at the school.

Berke said all that is needed to make Bonita Vista High School the location is the approval from the Sweetwater Union High School District board.

“The bottom line is Sweetwater (district) is going to tell us how much security is needed and what we can and can’t do,” he said.

Sweetwater board President John McCann said in an email that Bonita Vista High could be a possible location.

“Bonitafest has been a longstanding cultural tradition of the community and needs to be preserved,” he said

The next community meeting is July 2 at Sweetwater Community Church at 5305 Sweetwater Road.

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anniej Says:

Mon, Jun 16 2014 03:28 PM

Sooooo many fond memories of past Bonitafests. Perhaps a % of proceeds from all vendors might be donated to Bonita High for campus improvements - goodness knows these hard working students are deseving of as many campus improvements as possible.

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