Monthly Archives: September 2010

Wine, Beer, and Bluegrass Fill the Night

Saturday night was a big night for fans of good wine and great music – or good music and great beer. The inaugural Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival took over the Town Center Community Park, and over 200 fans of music and drink gathered to help raise funds for the Santee Parks and Recreation programs. In addition to the music and drinks, nearly two dozen local food establishments provided samples of their best and three silent auction tables gave patrons the chance to win great prizes and add to the total money raised. Proceeds from the event will all go to the Parks and Recreation Department’s Voucher Incentive Program (VIP), which provides funds for qualifying Santee families so they can take part in recreation classes, and to the upkeep and upgrading to local parks and other recreation facilities.

The event was organized by the Santee Parks and Recreation Committee (SPARC), a twelve-member volunteer group that helps advise the city on issues concerning the parks and recreation facilities and programs. They also are active in raising funds for the program, and can be seen at every big event selling hot dogs, sodas, and other goodies. The group meets the first Thursday of each month at the Santee City Complex on N. Magnolia, and visitors are always welcome.

Nearly a dozen wineries were represented at the event, including several local vineyards and a few from a bit farther away. From points north came wines from Colloquy Cellars, Tantara Winery, and Zaca Mesa Winery. The local vintners included North County wineries Milagro Farms and Lenora from Ramona and La Serenissima from Warner Springs, and East County vineyards Rock Canyon, Gloriosa, and Dubé. A nice mix of reds and whites were available for patrons to sample, using the commemorative glasses everyone received.

Although the breweries participating were smaller in number, their samples were no less popular. The two most mentioned, however, were Lightning Brewery from Poway and Santee’s own Manzanita Brewing Company. Also on hand were Starz Beer, Pizza Port Brewery, The Lost Abbey, and Stella Artois. There were also samples of more unusual alcoholic beverages to provide a dash of spice to the mix.

Of course a wine and bluegrass festival is nothing without some good music, and this one had two great local groups performing. First on stage was the Shirthouse Band, followed by Gone Tomorrow. Both groups have developed strong followings in San Diego, and were featured performers during Bluegrass Day at the San Diego County Fair this past summer. Also on hand for the evening was Wayne Rice, host of The Bluegrass Special on KSON.

In addition to the wine, beer, and music were nearly two dozen restaurants from in and around Santee. Among these were Michaels Grill, recent 10 News A-List winner for Best New American Restaurant, and Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue, fresh from taping an episode for The Cooking Channel’s program “Food Crafters” (check out the story on Santee Examiner). Also on hand were several Italian-style restaurants, including Italia Ristorante, Nicolosi’s, Jimano’s Pizzeria, Olive Garden, and Papa John’s. Cafe and home-style restaurants were also well represented, as well as more unusual eateries like L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and Nam Long. One of the big hits, though, turned out to be the fancy chicken tacos from Rubio’s, with a spicy salsa and a slice of avocado.

Several Santee and East County leaders and celebrities attended, including Mayor Randy Voepel, Santee Chamber of Commerce President John Olsen and Vice President John Morley, and writer and promoter Sam Mejia, perhaps better known as “Sam Sparrow, the Last Real Pirate.” Local candidates for office also took time out of their schedules to set up booths and talk to patrons of the Festival, including City Council candidate Rob McNelis, Padre Dam Water District Board candidate Ronn Hall, and Santee School Board candidate Gabriel Piña.

Enjoy a few more pictures of the evening’s fun.

Enjoying Samples of the Wines and Beers

Silent Auction Table

Gabriel Piña, local businessman and candidate for Santee School Board

Ronn Hall, 2010 Small Business Owner of the Year and candidate for Padre Dam Board, pours a sample of one of the many drinks available

Enjoying the music of Gone Tomorrow

Santee Chamber of Commerce members John Morley and John Olsen

Michael’s Grill – 10 News A-List winner for Best New American Restaurant

Rob McNelis, Santee Chamber Past-President and City Council Candidate

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The Idiocy of Spammers

As a blogger I occasionally find people posting “comments” on my articles that are nothing more than an attempt to fool others into clicking on their link. I find these people both ignorant and annoying, but fortunately the spam tool in the system catches them before any of you have to see the comments. In fact it does such a good job that there have been a few instances where I have had to “rescue” a legitimate comment from the Spam folder. But back to these idiots. If you are going to try to fool people into clicking on a link in a comment you post, wouldn’t it be wise to at least read the article first to see if you can say ANYTHING appropriate? Some of them try to get around it by making very generic comments such as “I like your post,” or “I really agree with what you said.” Well, I’m glad if you like my post or if you agree with me, but that doesn’t meant I’m going to let you leave a link to some low-life site that will try to sell some garbage or hijack visitors’ computers. It just doesn’t work that way here.

Now I know that this isn’t going to change an Spammers out there – they are just low-life idiots who only care about themselves. It’s just that sometimes we writers feel the need to fight back/share our frustrations/call out the idiots.

Next time: real Santee news.

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Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival on the Way

This Saturday night the inaugural Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival will happen at the Town Center Community Park from 5:00-9:30 pm. The event will raise funds for the city’s Voucher Incentive Program (VIP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying Santee families so they can participate in recreation programs, and to support local parks and facilities. The evening has been organized by the Santee Parks and Recreation Committee (SPARC) as part of their efforts to improve the city’s parks and other facilities.

The evening will feature wine and beer tasting, with beverages supplied by a number of local wineries and breweries. Included in the group is Santee’s own Manzanita Brewing Company, which just opened this summer and is already becoming a local force in the craft brew industry. Also on hand will be nearly area restaurants offering samples of their best dishes. Music will be provided by local bluegrass groups Gone Tomorrow and Shirthouse Band, and the event has the support of the San Diego Bluegrass Society.

A huge “Thank You” goes out to the event’s sponsors, including Pacific Home Remodeling, SDG&E, Padre Dam’s Santee Lakes, Steven Smith Landscape, Wells Fargo, and West Coast Arborists, Inc. It is because of companies such as these that Santee is able to provide many of its family-friendly events during the year. And congratulations to SPARC for pulling everything together to make this evening possible.

The Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival is a 21-and-older-only event, so call up those babysitters early. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple. For more information about the event, including full lists of wine, beer, and food establishments scheduled, visit the event website. The Town Center Community Park is located at Riverwalk and Park Center Drives, between Rio Seco School and the Cameron Family YMCA.

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Chambers “Mix” It Up at Santee’s Sportsplex USA

Around 100 businesspeople gathered at the Sportsplex USA facility in Santee’s Town Center Community Park on Wednesday, September 15, for a networking mixer. The event was sponsored by the Santee and East County Chambers of Commerce and drew guest from throughout San Diego County. It was also an opportunity to showcase the very successful Sportsplex USA complex, which features fields for  indoor/arena soccer and softball/baseball, batting cages, and a sports-themed play area for kids.

Board members of both Chambers of Commerce were there in force to greet regular members and guests. Many of the business owners attending had not had an opportunity to meet with those of other Chambers, so this was a chance to broaden their networks. The Santee Chamber took the opportunity to promote the upcoming Santee Car Show in October and both Chambers talked up Passport to the Future, the East County’s largest business expo. This event takes place on Thursday, September 23, at the El Cajon Elks Lodge from 5:00-8:00 pm, and is sponsored by the East County, La Mesa, and Santee Chambers of Commerce. For more information on the event, visit the event website.

One of the newer businesses attending was Nushon, a Lakeside-based company that has patented a silicone cushion that protects a woman’s neck from bikini and other straps. The owners and creators, Deby and Deanna Cowan and Sharon Stone, developed the idea on a trip to Las Vegas, proof that not everything that happens there stays there. The original product was a simple clear tube split to fit over the strap, with an opening for the connection (bow, hook, etc.).  have since added a variety of color choices. You can learn more at their website.

A highlight of the evening was a special fundraiser to support the East County Chamber. Two field level tickets to an upcoming Padre-Cubs game were auctioned off, with all proceeds going toward the Chamber’s activities. Rachel Lynch of Marriott Residence Inn was the lucky winner.

Enjoy a few more pictures from the Sportsplex USA Mixer.

L-R: Warren Savage, Santee Chamber Executive Director; Mike Cully, SDEC Chamber President/CEO; John Minto, Santee City Councilman; Roger Roberts, SDEC Chamber Director; John Olsen, Santee Chamber President

Ellen Malin, Director of Outreach for Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, and Rob McNelis, Santee Businessman and City Council Candidate

San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce Chair Elect Joe Mackey and Chair Roger Roberts

Jana Bradley, Rob McNelis, and Lisamarie Loveday

Diane Craik of KW Commercial talks with Terry Harris of TGHarris Consulting

Sports Goodies from the Sportsplex USA Kitchen

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Santee Eateries Make the A-List

Santee A-List Restaurants

Two local restaurants have made it to the top of the Channel 10 A-List this year. Long-time Santee restaurant Michael’s Grill was named Best New American Restaurant, beating out establishments from Hillcrest, the Gaslamp, Del Mar, and North Park. A relative newcomer, Frubble, took top honors in the Tea House category. Even though it is only a couple years old, it beat out some very well known tea houses in San Diego, Mission Hills, and La Mesa.

In addition, one of the newest hot spots, The Coffee Corner, took second place in Best Coffee Shop behind 2 Spoons Coffee in Carlsbad. The Coffee Corner has been in the same location for many years, but is under new ownership that is making major changes. Look for a story on the shop soon.

Michael’s Grill is located at 9621 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA. (619) 258-2110

Frubble is at 9628 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA. (619) 270-1230

The Coffee Corner is at 9608 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA. (619) 663-0114

(Frubble and The Coffee Corner are both located in the Pathways Community Church Center at the corner of Mast Blvd. and Carlton Hills Blvd.)

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Watching the Endorsement Process

Thursday night, September 9, I had the opportunity to attend a candidate forum hosted by the Greater Santee and East County California Republican Assembly groups. The event took place at the Ranch House Restaurant on Woodside Avenue, and included candidates in several East County races. Among those attending were candidates for Santee City Council, Santee School Board, Padre Dam Water District Board, and California State Assembly and Senate.

If you are interested in a report on who the delegates endorsed, you can check out the article on Santee Examiner. This article is actually more on my thoughts about the process involved. My original assumption was that the delegates would listen to the candidates’ opening words, ask some appropriate questions, listen to the answers, and then listen to the closing words. After that they would weigh the merits of the various candidates and decide whom they would endorse. However, from my point of view this was not the case.

First, the candidates had filled out what must have been some fairly long questionnaires that covered topics that sometimes seemed to have little or nothing to do with the offices they were running for. Second, there were frequently no questions asked, or the questions again were seemingly totally off topic. For example, what was the point of asking school board candidates how they would deal with illegal immigration? Finally in several instances the decision of whom to endorse seemed to rest more on how properly “conservative” the candidate was rather than on such qualifications as experience or vision. In one case the small contingent of delegates from one community simply left early rather than take a vote on the one candidate from their area – which, in itself, was apparently their vote.

I assume I am going to get some flack from this post, and some candidates might even feel I am disparaging them or showing a bias toward a different candidate. That is not my intention, although I am somewhat disparaging the process I watched last night. I still plan to write objective articles on the candidates based on questionnaires I plan to send out. These will focus on topics directly related to the offices involved, rather than being generic questions that might not always have a bearing on a position. I feel it is important that residents of Santee know as much as they can about what a candidate’s qualifications and vision are before voting. Please watch for upcoming articles here and on Santee Examiner.

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Hundreds Enjoy Santee Summer Concert Series

The annual Santee Summer Concert Series has come and gone, and once again hundreds of residents and visitors came out to listen to a wide variety of music. From Classic Rock to Country to Zydeco, the sounds of popular local groups entertained the large crowds that filled the Santee Trolley Square amphitheater and surrounding plaza. A big round of thanks has to go out to the City of Santee, lead sponsor Barona Resort and Casino, and supporting companies Target, Cox Communication, Daphne’s Greek Cafe, and MTS. Without the city and sponsors, summertime Thursday nights would not be as much fun.

The series was not without a few problems. Two groups, the US Navy bands Destroyers and Crucero, were forced to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances but their spots were ably filled by Ramshackle and ACME Rhythm and Blues. There were also issues with weather and equipment, but through it all bands persevered, fans waited patiently, and everyone had a good time each night.

This year I was not able to make it to as many concerts, but I wanted to share photos from the three I did make. In July the Clay Colton Band brought their mix of Country, folk, and Irish music to the series. I especially enjoyed their cover of the Eagle’s classic “Hotel California.” Then in August, Santee’s own Ramshackle came in for the US Navy Destroyers and rocked the house with their covers of great modern rock songs such as Tom Petty’s “I Need to Know” and the Romantics’ “What I Like About You.” The series went out with a roar when the Cat-illacs brought their Classic and Modern Rock show to the stage.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Miss Santee queens and court who acted as gracious hostesses for the series. Thank you to Miss Santee, Kimberly Swank, Miss Santee Teen, Taylor Shelton, and the runners up for all you do for the city.

Enjoy some pictures from three of this summer’s concerts.

Clay Colton Band – July 16, 2010

The Clay Colton Band plays a mix of Country, Irish, folk, and pop songs

Paul Castellanos plays acoustic intro for “Hotel California”

Clay Colton and Sergio share lead guitar duties on “Hotel California”

Ramshackle – August 5, 2010

Ramshackle always draws a large, fun-loving crowd

Cat-illacs – August 19, 2010

The Cat-illacs are always one of the biggest draws of the Summer Concert Series

You can check out stories on some of the 2009 concerts:

80z All Stars

Lindsay Spurlock


Southbound Jonny


Cash’d Out

Screamin’ Primas

Emerald River

Bayou Brothers

And a few stories from the 2008 season as well:



Bayou Brothers

80z All Stars

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Santee Car Show Coming Soon

Artwork by Jim Busike

The same folks who brought you the hugely successful Santee Street Fair are at it again. On Saturday, October 9, the Santee Chamber of Commerce will sponsor the first annual Santee Car Show and Festival. The event will take place in the same location as the Street Fair – on Riverview Parkway, just east of Santee Trolley Center. There will be over 200 cars, trucks, hot rods, motorcycles, and other vehicles, along with music and other entertainment, and a Beer and Wine Garden. The show has spaces for 150 vendors, but these are going quickly, as are the spaces for show cars.

The Santee Car Show will not only spotlight local businesses and some of the great cars in the region, but will also help raise funds for Santee Santas, a local organization that helps support struggling families in the community, and the Santee Food Bank. Organizers are encouraging everyone who attends to bring non-perishable food to donate to these two great groups. The fun starts at 9:00 am and lasts until 5:00 pm. For more information on car or vendor space check out the links at the end.

These pictures show a few of the cars that took part in the Italia Ristorante Car Show in January. Will some of them be in the Santee Car Show? You’ll have to come down October 9 to find out.

Show Your Car

Vendor Sign Up

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