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KENNETH SOUSA, HESPERIA STAR

Boulder Creek harvest festival ushers in fall

With a 40-pound pumpkin in their wheelbarrow, Hayden Pitts and his family were excited about going home and taking a sharp knife to their orange treasure.

“I’m going to turn this pumpkin into a hillbilly with one tooth,” said Pitts, during the Boulder Creek Ranch Harvest Festival on Saturday.

Pitts, who made the drive from Long Beach with his wife and children, joined hundreds of people on a picture perfect day, as the ranch opened its gates for the two-week fall celebration.

“What a beautiful day — it’s not hot, it’s not windy, and the beer is not that expensive,” said Marvin Pope, as he listened to Southern Spirit belt out a country tune on stage.

With the ranch’s lake and waterfall as a background, Brianna McCourt, 4, spoke with Cinderella and three other three fairy tale princesses

“I like all the Disney princesses, but Cinderella is my favorite movie,” said McCourt, as the pint-sized wide eyed fan waved good-bye to her new friends.

Dressed as the Little Mermaid, Tiffany Hosler said more characters from her company, If The Shoe Fits, will be back on Oct. 27 for another meet and greet session.

As Uriel Rico, a student-volunteer from Sultana High School helped at the kid’s carnival, Savannah Jacob, 4, picked out a removable tattoo sticker she had won.

“I liked the petting zoo and tractor ride,” Jacob said. “For Halloween, I’m going to be a cheerleader with a pink, white and purple outfit.”

With a distinct New Zealand accent, Nigel “Tio Nacho” Christensen greeted hungry visitors, as they lined up for a taste of one of his three fiery salsas.

“I may be a Kiwi, but I make some of the best salsa this side of the border,” said Christensen, one of 25 cooks who participated in the one-day chili cook-off event.

Christensen, and many of his culinary competitors, fine tuned their cooking skills for Saturday’s Happy Trails Chili Cook Off in Apple Valley, and for a chance to qualify for the 2013 chili cook-off world championship in Palm Springs

Cameo Griffiths and her organization, Nurturing Hope for the Nations, prepared more than 700 tasting kits for the festival’s cook-off.

“It’s been a three month process, but it only took two days to fill all these bags,” said Griffiths, 20, who founded her non-profit group to build orphanages in Africa. “We’re all about serving, whether it’s here or overseas.”

Located in east Hesperia, and nestled near the Mojave River, the fall festival will continue everyday though Oct. 28.

The ranch will offer a pumpkin field, petting zoo, bounce house, hay rides, a playground and $5 parking on weekdays.

Weekend offerings include events such as the Huck Finn Fish Off, Battle of the Bands, and a trick-or-treat and costume contest, with free parking.

School field trips are available.

The festival is open 11 a.m. to dusk and admission is free. For more information, visit www.bouldercreekranch.org/harvest-festival.


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