The West Fire Relief Music Festival got off to a mellow start at Philip Marx Central Park on Saturday, Aug. 28, with the blues/rock sound of the band Five Yard Dog.
The Santa Clarita-based band was the first on the schedule at 9 a.m.
Five Yard Dog completed a sound check and launched into its funky, soulful music that spread across the grassy park, announcing the beginning of a day of giving and sharing.
Five Yard Dog isn't local. They came because people need help.
“We're here because 28 homes were burned and 48 outbuildings,” said band leader Mike Moxley, vocals and bass. “[Event organizer] Orion Sanders called us and asked us if we would play the first set. We've done the (Funds for Freedom) bike events for the Bakersfield National Cemetery — we've been here twice for that.”
The West Fire of July 27 took out structures on the property of concert producer Bert Bockover, who oversaw the erection of two music stages in the park and one small one in the beer garden.
The stages were positioned so the music would be directional and the bands would not cancel each other out.
Several of Bockover's grown children were living on his West Ranch property when the fire came through, but his sound equipment and stages were stored safely at another location in Water Canyon.
“A lot of my equipment didn't burn,” he said. “But I lost a lot of memorabilia.”
Sound technician Mike Linbaugh helped set up the sound equipment and Robert DeOliver of Roberts Automotive in Old Town manned his unique sound system on the east stage, which he described as “not your everyday sound system.”
Sixteen bands were scheduled to play throughout the day.
The community vendors offered an array of money-making items.
Diane Kunick and “my small posse” of Women of the Moose organized four booths with donated drawing prizes.
“We worked hard and the community pulled together amazingly,” she said. “Everybody ponied up. There's even stuff from Lancaster and Bakersfield.”
Kunick also brought a cake that illustrated Tehachapi, covered with grapes, a sod farm, windmills, oak trees and Brite Lake, complete with a fisherman in a boat.
Annette Kirby was a driving force behind the event.
“I helped get the vendors together and it was tough,” Kirby said. “People would say they wanted to help, then they would hear about the insurance.”
Some likely vendors, she said, decided to donate several hundred dollars instead of paying it out for insurance on a booth.
The Boy Scouts sold snow cones.
Old Town Nursery brought plants for the stages.
The Tehachapi Lions Club sold hot dogs.
The Tehachapi Kiwanis Club helped Salvation Army Director Marget Willer.
The Tehachapi Rotary Club sold soda, lattes, ice coffee and their new photo calendars.
The Moose Lodge sold hamburgers, hot dogs and chips.
Pat Scheibel — whose son Brent Scheibel lives at Old West Ranch — sold her beautiful poster of poppy-covered fields in Arvin.
Terry Beckett of the Tehachapi Homeschool Coop brought cookies and jewelry made by the children. The coop booth was sponsored by the United Methodist Church.
Beckett's daughter Fiona Eddleston, 8, helped out and described how all the earrings were made.
The young men of Civil Air Patrol Squadron 46 sold rocket kits. Buyers could try out little rocket powered by Alka Seltzer on the spot.
At the petting zoo, children could see a 10-week-old zebra named Zig-Zag and listen to him bark.
The zoo included a variety of exotic animals, including a miniature horse, rare sheep and goat breeds, llamas and alpacas.
The Frielings, who own All About Animals and the Animal Education Center in Tehachapi, said they decided to leave the camel behind.
They had planned to have a camel kissing booth.
Organizer Orion Sanders said all the money the vendors collected was to be turned directly over to the local chapter of the Salvation Army or the Kern County Chapter of the Red Cross at the end of the day.
Center open Sept. 1 for West Fire victim info
Mary Beth Garrison, special projects coordinator for District 2 Supervisor Don Maben reports that Kern County is organizing to provide assistance to victims of the West Fire.
A “Local Assistance Center” will be opened on Wednesday, Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to make it possible for fire victims to meet personally with representatives of a variety of agencies to get information and assistance.
The LAC will be at the Golden Hills Community Services District, 21415 Reeves St., Tehachapi.
Garrison also reports that the county Board of Supervisors has arranged for free refuse bins to be available to fire victims at no charge. Information about the bins will be available at the LAC on Wednesay or by calling 862-8940.