Cities to Celebrate Heritage Festival

The history and culture of Santa Paula and Fillmore will be celebrated this weekend at the Heritage Valley Festival, an event held jointly by the two cities for the first time.

"The overall theme of the festival is the heritage of our valley, and we're trying to show as much of that as we can," said Shirley Spitler, Fillmore's economic development coordinator.

Each city will have its own attractions, with the Fillmore Western Railroad train linking the two. The one-hour ride winds through the area's citrus groves.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday, with food, entertainment and crafts offered in both towns. Santa Paula will feature an antique quilt show at the Union Oil Museum and an art show at Blanchard Library.

Fillmore will display old farm equipment and have interpreters in period costume. The city will also turn about 30 tons of ice into snow for sledding. The ice will also be used in ice-cream making and ice-sitting contests.

Fillmore will offer Bruce's Big Band, a deejay and the western oldies group Cleatus Bumpus today, with the Glen City Blues Band and '50s rock band The Legends on Sunday. Santa Paula will feature some of the same bands on its two stages, as well as several Latino musical groups.

Admission to the festival is free, though there is a fee for some attractions, including the train ride. Fillmore's events take place along Central Avenue; activities in Santa Paula will be along Main and Mill streets.

In recent years, Fillmore alone has held a similar event, first calling it the Restoration Celebration after rebuilding from the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The event then became the Heritage Faire last year and now, with Santa Paula included, the Heritage Valley Festival.

"It benefits both cities and the railroad," said Santa Paula's community services director, John Keisler. "It's just a natural cooperative venture because of the railroad and the close proximity of the cities."

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