November 2021

Escondido Celebrates Veterans at Annual VetFest

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Escondido Celebrates Veterans at Annual VetFest

On Saturday, Nov.13, Escondido celebrated VetFest, a day-long festival and parade celebrating Veterans who dedicated their time to serving in the United States military. 

Founded in 2019, VetFest was the brain-child of Mayor Paul McNamara who is a retired Marine Corps colonel. Alongside Escondido’s American Legion JB Clark Post 149 Commander Mike Frank and Nina Deerfield, they recruited several volunteers and sponsors to help organize and fund the event. Title sponsors this year included Cheval Winery, Palomar College, MSE Landscape and Palomar Health Medical Group.

The well-organized and much-anticipated event had a large number of attendees come out to celebrate after events were canceled last year due to ongoing pandemic concerns. 

Grand Avenue was decorated in red, white and blue all along the parade route to embody the spirit of the event. Several merchants throughout Grand Avenue and its side streets participated in the annual Storefront Contest where they decorated their window fronts with patriotic salutes to veterans and the U.S. panel of veterans chosen by the VetFest committee selected the winners which will be announced on its website

The parade marched down Grand Avenue and showcased veterans from past conflicts from as far back as World War II. Local and regional organizations that support Escondido veterans and their families also walked the parade, along with marching bands and other supporters. 

The Esco Alley Art committee came out in support of Escondido veterans and participated in the parade. Esco Alley Art committee member Carol Rogers from Stone and Glass said, “We truly enjoyed the experience, we found it a wonderful way to honor our Vets and bring our community together. We plan to participate again next year.” 

This year’s activities also included an art show where veterans, veteran family members, and supporters of veterans were invited to participate. Like the Storefront Contest, it too was judged by a VetFest committee and results will be posted on the website

Static displays such as trucks and military equipment from Camp Pendleton were parked along the route and information booths from sponsors were set up for guests to wander through and learn more about the many businesses throughout Escondido that support the military and military families. 

A free barbecue provided by the American Legion was available after the parade. 

Philanthropic Patriots

Escondido’s American Legion JB Clark Post 149 was first established in 1919, shortly after the first American Legion held its first national convention in Minnesota. The mission of the American Legion is to enhance the well-being of the country’s veterans, their families, our military, and our communities through a devotion to mutual helpfulness. The organization’s  mission statement is: “The American Legion: Veterans Strengthening America.” As a local service charity, the JB Clark Post 149 is dedicated to the preservation of local historical facts.

The American Legion JB Clark Post 149 is located at 230 E Park Avenue in Escondido.

All branches of the armed forces are welcome to join the organization. The organization is a leader in providing services to the community including veteran services, mentoring youth, sponsoring community activities, and advocating American ideals. 100% of funds raised through the American Legion go back to the community. 


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Escondido Continues to Grow Agricultural Industry

Agriculture helps drive economic growth and innovation throughout Escondido and the region.  San Diego County is the number one producer of nursery products in the nation, the 12th largest farm economy in California, and the 19th largest farm economy in the nation, according to statistics provided by the San Diego County Farm Bureau (SDCFB).

San Diego County Farm Bureau offices are in the AGHub building in Escondido.

“Escondido has a really robust agricultural presence,” said Hanna Gbeh, Executive Director for the San Diego County Farm Bureau. “When you look at the numbers in San Diego County, we contribute $1.8 billion annually to the local economy.”

The SDCFB is a nonprofit membership organization that helps elevate the voice of the local agriculture industry and its farmers. Established in San Diego in 1914, SDCFB is one of the earliest farm bureaus in the state. It helps farmers navigate a complex regulatory environment and advocates for farmers so they can remain economically viable in San Diego County.

Hannah Gbeh (center) and the team at the San Diego County Farm Bureau.

The SDCFB also holds educational events and seminars on new technologies and research that affects farming. Recently its Farm and Nursery Expo held at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido brought farmers from around the county to learn more.

                                                                                                                                                          A roundtable discussion at the Farm and Nursery Expo.
“Escondido has a rich history of farming throughout the area,” said Jennifer Schoeneck, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “It really is a hub for farming in San Diego County.”

One of the most vital components of growing is water, and in a State where water is one of the highest commodities, Escondido is a leader in finding ways to safeguard the supply of water so it is readily available to farmers. 

“Escondido is ensuring long-term viability for agriculture,” Gbeh said. “An example of that is the clean water pipeline they are constructing. This is a national model of how to successfully make sure you can keep agriculture continuing to develop in urban environments.”

Gbeh said the SDCFB is grateful to Escondido for pioneering this effort. She also said that San Diego is a leader in sustainable agriculture and specialty crops. Even though farmers here are challenged with the high costs of water and land, labor shortages, and regulations, they continue to produce high-quality commodities and specialty items. Some of the niche markets throughout the county include guavas, coffee, and industrial hemp. 

Escondido also has a grape market with vineyards that have produced several award-winning wines throughout the city. Agri-tourism has become another way many farmers are finding ways to sustain their farms. Wineries, such as Altipiano in the hills of Escondido, offer wine tastings and accommodations on site for those looking to experience life on a vineyard. 

Altipiano winery in the hills of Escondido

No matter the size of the farm or the product being produced, Escondido is ripe with agriculture that continues to support the community and the local economy. And from seed to table, the SDCFB is there to support the efforts of everyone involved in the process.


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