Leon Worden

Fall Harvest Festival at Mentryville this Saturday

Leon Worden · October 16, 1996

Come one! Come all! Round up the kids and bring 'em on down to Mentryville this Saturday, October 19th, for the town's first-ever Fall Harvest Festival!

That's right -- the Santa Clarita Valley's very own ghost town is a "happening" place once again, thanks to a lot of hard work by hordes of volunteers like Paul and Elfreda Higgins and the rest of the newly-formed Friends of Mentryville. Not since Carol and Frenchy Lagasse lived there have so many people traipsed in and around the historic buildings and wandered the rugged pathways of the Pico Canyon hamlet where the first commercially successful oil well this side of Pennsylvania erupted almost exactly 120 years ago.

All through the 1970s and '80s, the Lagasses invited the good folks of Santa Clarita to lavish ice cream socials and overnight Halloween hauntings in the spooky old barn. Rather than try to replicate the Lagasses' grand soirees, the modern-day Friends -- together with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, which now owns the place -- are hosting a pre-Halloween extravaganza where kids can pick out their favorite Lombardi pumpkins and win prizes at the City of Santa Clarita's game booths and hear professional storytellers tell tales of American lore.

There will be plenty for Mom and Dad to do, too. Trained docents will lead walking tours. Members of the SCV Antique Auto Club will show their classic cars just like they did in Mentryville's "good old days." Local woodcrafters, quilters, embroiders, wool spinners and painters will display their wares, and there will be plenty of handicrafts to take back home, from dolls and woodworks to clothing and jellies.

The Good Time Jazz Band -- a personal favorite -- will supply its unique brand of Dixieland. Barbershop singers will stroll the town, the Horse Soldiers band will inject a bit of country music, and an old-fashioned jug band (pictured) will twang away on washboards and gutbuckets in front of the vintage 1885 Felton Schoolhouse.

You certainly won't go hungry. Pat Doran of nearby Stevenson Ranch has been baking pies like crazy all month, because you can't have a Harvest Festival without a bake sale. Bob Weber will don his chef's hat and throw some hot dogs on the steamer, and Ilene Mehterian is bringing roast beef and ham. Caramel apples, shaved ice and popcorn round out the menu, and you can wash it all down with sodas and water from Trader Joe's.

The Boy Scouts came out recently to touch up the paint, and the place looks great. To get to Mentryville, follow Pico Canyon Road about three miles west of the Lyons-Pico exit off of Interstate 5. The festival will go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 19th. A $1 donation will be requested at the gate, and proceeds will be used to refurnish the little red schoolhouse.

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I know it's a bit early, but you might as well mark your calendar now for a few more Halloweenish activities that you won't want to miss.

That other "Friends" group, the Friends of Hart Park (isn't it nice that all these neat places have so many friends?) formally dare you to hike the "haunted trail" through the forest at William S. Hart Park any night from October 26th to 30th between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m. They promise an encounter with the spirits of pioneers, outlaws, Indians and wild animals that will scare the living bejeezus out of you. Recommended ages are 6 to 93, and no, I don't know why 93 is the cutoff.

The whopper of all Halloween events, the Haunted Jailhouse at the SCV Sheriff's Station, will be staffed by some rather ghoulish Boys and Girls Club kids for the eighth time a week from Sunday, October 27th. Watch the Signal for details.

And finally the capper. There will be a special Halloween showing of "Dracula's Widow" -- produced by the Canyon Theatre Guild under the direction of George D. Cummings -- on Halloween night itself. The critically acclaimed thriller is already being staged every Friday and Saturday from now to November 2nd, but you had better call 298-0058 today if you want tickets to the special Halloween night performance!

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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