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Members of the “A Night on Balsam” committee meets at City Hall. / Laura Austin Photo

‘A Night on Balsam Street’ returns Friday, May 19th

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer   Join your friends and neighbors for A Night on Balsam on Friday, May 19, from 6 PM to 10 PM. The event features food, drinks, music, and a night downtown. If you attended the February 10 Night on Balsam, you will notice twice as many food vendors and more wineries than last time. Wine is $10 per glass or $28 for three glasses. Buying wine is a no-cash venture, only debit/credit cards and various mobile payment options are accepted.

In addition to eating and drinking, there is live music and fun games to play. The stage is central to the event and is located at the intersection of French and Balsam. You will be treated to acoustic artist Lisa Skrabar, the band Aaron Lee and Collateral Damage, and DJ PANiiQ. At the north end of the street, RIDGGaming is hosting a Cornhole tournament, and Cerro Coso Community Outreach is hosting a free Yard Game Zone on the other end. You can register and pay the entry fee for the Cornhole Tournament on the ScoreHolio app.

We can thank the City of Ridgecrest for this event and the folks who took the Quality of Life Survey last summer. The survey was studied.  “We noticed a demand for ‘more things to do in our town.’ So we started brainstorming about an event that would bring the community together while supporting local businesses and hopefully get more foot traffic into our awesome shops on Balsam,” says Isabel Medina Sanchez, Administrative Analyst for the City. “We were able to start planning these things because we have a little more breathing room now in our General Fund because of the passing of Measure P,” adds Administrative Analyst Jennifer Rickets.

“There will be other events coming that the City will be working on. Isabel and I will be working on those, but the committees will shift depending on the event,” says Rickets. “This one was based on who offered to volunteer and help us out. Also, who we thought could bring value. That’s how we ended up with our group, the Night on Balsam Committee.” Sponsors/volunteers include the Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce,  the California Welcome Center, Waste Management, Flightline Tap Room, Casa Corona, RAW Media Productions, and Catering Thyme.

“We are a proud partner for putting on A Night on Balsam. We are excited to participate as it fits our mission to strengthen the community. We love to see people coming out supporting local businesses,” remarked Rebecca McCourt, Executive Director of Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce.

The Ridgecrest Area Convention & Visitors Bureau/California Welcome Center also works hard to make this event successful.  Executive Director Kari Crutcher says, “From a tourism perspective, it is crucial that visitors have a great experience while in Ridgecrest. The more events the community can provide, the better the experience for visitors, and hopefully, they will return to Ridgecrest.”

With 14 food vendors, there is a lot of food to choose from. If you desire pizza, your hunger will benefit Safe Grad Night. Rickets tells us, “Papa John’s gave a discounted price to Bernie’s Landscape and Square Print to buy the pizza to give to Safe Grad so that they have no cost. They’re selling it, and all the profits will go to the Safe Grad program.”

“It takes a village,” it has been said, and our village is pulling together. Police and Community Together (PACT) will be there, as well as Ridgecrest Police Department (RPD), “They will be watching to ensure that people behave themselves and that the alcohol is not coming in from outside sources or leaving from the event.” Waste Management will cover the sanitation needs, and the volunteers will ensure things go smoothly.

“We are thankful for the turnout at the last Night on Balsam,” says Sanchez. RPD estimated that there were 3,500 people in February.  This year they are prepared for more and have extended the length of the street being used.“We are looking forward to seeing even more of Ridgecrest show up to this one,” says Rickets. “We have a great lineup of vendors, wineries, and musical talent; sure to make this event even better than the first.”