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California Poppy Festival and Ventura ArtWalk April 25-26

From the desert to the sea -- a good weekend

Posted: April 23, 2009 12:21 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Poppies at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

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California Poppy Festival
"Unusual weather we're having, ain't it?"

That's what the Cowardly Lion said in the "Wizard of Oz," as he awoke from a poppy-induced sleep to find snow on the poppy field.

And, while it may not be "unusual" for this time of year, the weather may be a bit "flexible" during this weekend's California Poppy Festival in Lancaster. Because of that, and other factors, the poppies growing wild in the Antelope Valley's open spaces may be a bit under wraps.

You may not see a sea of orange, but the good times will roll at the festival, regardless.

Nicole Nutt, the recreation program coordinator with the City of Lancaster, said, "Lancaster City Park will burst into ‘bloom' just in time for the 18th annual, nationally-acclaimed California Poppy Festival. Join us April 25 and 26, when we will be hosting new performers, pavilions and events for people of all ages."

Though we've had our hot spell, at this writing, the weather forecast for Lancaster shows Saturday's high at 71 degrees and Sunday's at 70. Both days are expected to be windy, with partly cloudy skies. That means it will be cool, if not cold. So come dressed for that, but be prepared for hot weather, just in case.

Also be prepared to have some family fun.

Even after 18 years, the California Poppy Festival is still growing, always adding fresh attractions. Some of this year's highlights include:

Antelopes on Parade: As part of a public art project, five fiberglass antelopes, painted by local artists, will be unveiled at the Poppy Festival. These will later be installed in prominent public locations throughout the summer.

Comedy and Magic: Godfrey the magician will perform on the Lupine Stage. His award-wining magic act specializes in audience participation, combining laughter with amazement.

Dog tricks: Chalcy the dog will also amaze when he recognizes numbers up to 15, and performs three precision acrobatic stunt shows each day.

Go prehistoric, or golden: View life-sized model dinosaurs and try your hand at an archaeological dig box and a gold panning trough.

Poppy Speedway: Patrons can test their precision driving skills with remote-control cars on the Poppy Speedway, a 24-foot, six-lane raceway where up to six cars compete.

Jest in Time Circus: Topper Todd and Li Li Zucchini combine juggling, physical and verbal comedy, tight-wire walking and amazing stunts into a dynamic show.

Live music: You can relax while enjoying live music performed on the Poppy Stage. Saturday it is Cajun and Creole tunes with the Pine Leaf Boys, and then the Campbell Brothers with African-American gospel music. Sunday's lineup includes the contemporary and traditional fused jazz of Lori Andrews, followed by the salsa sounds of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

Covering more than 35 acres, the Poppy Festival features more than 400 vendors and performance groups. There will be exotic animal encounters, a farmer's market, bird shows, world cultural demonstrations, aviation exhibits, fine arts, make-and-take-crafts and paint-by-numbers community murals.

Poppy Reserve: It is important to remind that the Poppy Festival is held at Lancaster City Park, and not held at the Poppy Reserve. However, you can make a side trip to the Poppy Reserve during the weekend, as it is only 15 miles from the festival site. And though the poppies may have past their peak bloom already - and close up if the wind is blowing strongly - a visit to the reserve is still a fascinating and educational experience. Visit for more information on the Poppy Reserve.

California Poppy Festival
April 25-26, 2009 at Lancaster City Park
43011 N. 10th St. West, Lancaster, CA 93534
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day
Tickets are available onsite during the event and may be purchased with cash only. Two ATMs are available near the entrance/exit and two more near the Tot Lot.
• Adults (13-61): $8
• Children (6-12): $5
• Children (5 & under): FREE
• Seniors (62+): $5
• Wheelchair Rentals: $10 for 4 hours (located at the Information Booth)
Parking is free. Free trams circulate between the entrance/exit and the parking lots.
Visit the Web site,, for all the details, including information about the events and activities.



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