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Bonitafest will go on Robert Moreno | Sat, Jul 12 2014 12:00 PM

The biggest community event in Bonita will get smaller.

Southwestern College professor Max Branscomb, who spearheaded a community effort to salvage Bonitafest,  said the 42nd annual Bonitafest will happen this year.

“Bonitafest is a go,” he said.

Unlike previous years where Bonitafest was an all-day affair, the 2014 Bonitafest will be spread out over five days and on a much smaller financial scale.

Bonitafest kicks off Aug. 30 and will partner with the Chula Vista Live Steamers in providing train rides to children from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Day two of Bonitafest takes place Sept. 12, with the Bonita Twilight Trail at the Chula Vista Municipal Golf Course.  Branscomb said the parade will feature children on horses and bicycles, and also people carrying glow sticks to light up the night.

“That’s the way we are going to do our parade,” Branscomb said. “Everybody can participate, that is the beauty of it.”
Bonitafest’s street fair and entertainment will follow on Sept. 12 at Bonita Vista High School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Show choirs from the Sweetwater Union High School District will be performing.

The last stage of Bonitafest is Branscomb’s Bonitafest Melodrama, which will play at 7:30 p.m. from Sept. 24 through 27 at Sweetwater Community Church, 5305 Sweetwater Road.

Branscomb said he had originally planned to produce the melodrama, even if Bonitafest was cancelled.

Branscomb said he anticipates this year’s Bonitafest to cost about $7,500 to produce, a drastic cut from the $19,500 in  2013.

As of Monday, $2,200 had been raised.

“We need $7,500 to do everything that we want to do,” he said. “That’s the cheapest we can do everything.”

The money covers marketing, banners, logistics, and a performance stage.

Branscomb said he is still seeking financial contributions from community members and businesses.
UCSD Health and The Phair Company, owners of a real estate and  development company in Chula Vista, are two of the main donors thus far, Branscomb said.

“Our family has been in Bonita for over four generations, so we feel that it is important to help our community,” said Kirk Phair. “We are lifelong Bonita Vistans and proud to help bring back Bonitafest.”

Phair said his family has been part of Bonitafest for many years.

Branscomb said the Chula Vista Police Department won’t be needed for security, which saves money. He said he is waiting to hear back from the Sweetwater district to see what kind of security measures will be needed for the event at Bonita Vista High School.

Bonita Business and Professional Association, the title sponsor of the event, announced May 20 that it was cancelling the decades old event as the group was also disbanding.

But on Monday the former president of the association said she supported the efforts to bring back Bonitafest.

“We’re really excited about the community rallying in response to the continuation of the Bonitafest and he (Branscomb) has 100 percent of our support,” said Carri Long-Fernandez, ex-president of BBPA.

She also said she plans to attend this year’s festivities.

Branscomb said organizers are working in bringing in food vendors.

While Bonitafest was saved in 2014, there are bigger plans for 2015.

“We’re going to do 2015 and we’re going to try to rebuild it next year,” Branscomb said. “This year we’re just trying to keep it alive, have some fun and keep our capacity together to have a bigger one next year.”

A community meeting updating the progress on Bonitafest is to be held Aug. 7 at Sweetwater Community Church, 5305 Sweetwater Road, Bonita.

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