5th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival  Adds Wresting

Sac Taco Fest Release  |  2018-06-01

This year’s Festival has attracted the nationally recognized disc jockey and TV personality Big Al Sams.

DJ Big Al Sams to Host This Year’s Taco Eating Contests

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The 5th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival, which is held on Del Paso Boulevard between El Camino Ave. and Arden Way, is comprised of several event components that has made it fun and unique among Northern California festivals.  Three of these events have become especially popular among Taco enthusiasts, the Taco Eating Contest, Northern California’s Chihuahua Beauty Contest, and Professional Wrestling.  But it’s the new contests that will focus on culture and history.

This year’s Festival has attracted the nationally recognized disc jockey and TV personality Big Al Sams, a favorite among fans of KHYL 101.5 (V101fm) and “Mark at the Movies.”  Big Al, originally from Chicago, will be hosting this year’s Taco Eating Contest, which is being sponsored by V101fm/iHeart Radio.  It is a contest that measures the person who can eat the most regular size tacos in 60 seconds, with the winner walking away with The Taco Trophy, a guaranteed $100 prize money plus the pot collected from the $5 entry fee.  Last year’s winner set a new record of eating 6 tacos in 53 seconds.

“We’re very excited to have Big Al Sams join us this year as host of the Taco Eating Contest,” Says Festival Coordinator Mina Perez.  “He’s going to make this annual contest much more fun than what it already is and I understand some of the wrestlers a joining the competition too.”

Speaking about wrestlers, Action Coast Empire is back for its third year providing some action-packed grappling, that will include some of Northern California’s most popular wrestlers, including “The Russian Wolf” Alexis Darevko and North Sacramento’s own Brittney Wonder.  The afternoon wrestling will feature for the first time, a much sought after wrestler – the very ominous “FunnyBone.”

“We were perhaps the first festival to feature professional wrestling as part of the entertainment,” says Perez.  “And our tradition continues this year because of its popularity and we always make sure we have men and women wrestling.”

Perez adds that the unique entertainment throughout the festival is what makes it fun, interesting, and ideal for the whole family.

“The contests and people winning prizes is one of things the Taco Festival is becoming known for,” she says.  “This year we’re adding a singing contest where all contestants must sing at least a minute and a half of the Academy Award winning song “Remember Me” from the Disney/PIXAR move “COCO,” and we also have a Crazy Hat contest - it’s a light-hearted attempt to rival the Kentucky Derby’s hat wearing tradition, and which history we share.”

Once called Rancho Del Paso, in the mid to late 1800s North Sacramento was the world’s largest racehorse breeding and pasturing ranch owned by James Ben Ali Haggin, whose horse “Ben Ali,” became the only Kentucky Derby winner from the region.  But it was the great stallion “Salvatore” that won international fame by beating Tenny in a challenge race that captured the hearts of millions.  Ridden by legendary Jockey Issac Murphy, an African American whose tragic story is yet to be formally told, Salvatore beat Tenny by a nose in the June 25, 1890 race.

The 5th Annual Sacramento Taco Festival is scheduled for June 2, 2018 from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm on Del Paso Boulevard in Old North Sacramento.  Tickets are $7 online (Eventbrite) and $10 at the gate.  Children 12 and under are free.  For more information or tickets visit www.sactacofest.com.

Source: Sacramento Taco Fest Media Release

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SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - To help ensure voters can get to the polls on Election Day, June 5, California law allows workers to take up to two hours off work to vote if they are unable to during non-work hours.

“Californians should make a plan now for how they will cast a ballot on Election Day,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “Every registered voter has a right to cast their ballot before the polls close. If you can’t make it to your polling place outside of working hours, you have the right to take time off to vote, without a loss of pay.”

California Elections Code section 14000 allows workers up to two hours off, without a loss of pay, to vote if they do not have enough time to do so in their non-work hours. The law requires workers to notify their employers two working days before the election if they need to take time off to vote.

Polling places are open between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Also, every California employer is required to post, in a visible location, a notice informing employees of their rights at least 10 days before an election. The Secretary of State’s office offers these free, print-ready notices in 10 languages at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/time-vote-notices/

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PLACER COUNTY, CA (MPG) - An area pilot has now given more than 200 young people a free demonstration airplane ride as part of the EAA “Young Eagles” program, which is introducing a new generation to the world of flight.

Among the more than 50,000 volunteers around the world who have donated their time and aircraft to the effort is Steven Kendall of Auburn, CA.  All pilots in the Young Eagles program explain the safe operation of airplanes and principles of flight before the short trips.  Participating young people become official Young Eagles with the flight.  The names of the pilots and the participants are also included in the “World’s Largest Logbook,” which is on permanent display in the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis., and online through the Young Eagles web site.  Young Eagles also have access to an online pilot training course, made possible by Sporty’s Pilot Shops, located in Batavia, Ohio.

The Young Eagles Program was unveiled by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in July 1992 and has now flown more than 2 million young people, primarily between the ages of 8 and 17.  EAA is a worldwide organization with 200,000 members who enjoy all facets of recreational flight.  The Young Eagles program goal is to allow young people to experience positive activities and discover the possibilities available to them within the world of aviation.  For more information, visit www.youngeagles.org.


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Wildlife Care Volunteers Critical

By Rick Reed  |  2018-05-29

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The non-profit wildlife rehabilitation group has taken in over 1000 birds and small animals in May that need a real friend - right now! Thousands more are coming in June and July.

Volunteers to help care for and feed injured and orphaned wildlife give them a second chance to live. Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento has a variety of roles including that filled by volunteer Dave Gish.  As a community volunteer he’s given over 1600 hours and logged hundreds of miles returning over 500 creatures to the wild in releases across the Sacramento region since 2016. WCA volunteers like Dave return wildlife to the area it came from originally on release back to nature.

Volunteers have fed, raised and rehabilitated wildlife while others from across the community staff the Hotline, manage the office and keep the WCA facility up and operating thru the busy season.

Dave Gish also volunteers as a facility gardener working to maintain the grounds when not on the road to release rehabilitated wildlife back to nature. Wildlife Care volunteers provide 98% of the critical skills needed to keep these heroes of wildlife on track. Working with skilled animal care staff and our community volunteer coordinator, it’s the people from across the region from all walks of life that make the difference in life or death for wildlife.

By taking in thousands of creatures to live again and return to the wild, the WCA heroes of nature help keep the balance in our environment to preserve our quality of life.  Volunteers are the most critical part of the mission to save wildlife across the Sacramento region that began more than 45 years ago. Visit volunteer@wildlifecareassociation.com to take part in saving wildlife!

If you find wildlife injured, orphaned or displaced by human activity call the Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento Hotline at 916-965-WILD.

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Meghan and Harry – A Royal Way Forward

Story by Susan Skinner  |  2018-05-25

Prince Harry and his Californian bride posed with wedding attendants at Windsor castle. Among royal duties, the couple will act as youth ambassadors for the Queen. Photo courtesy St James Palace, London

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On a sunny day in 1981, I watched Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles. Their son Prince Harry was also blessed with a sunny wedding day. There the similarities ended. Thirty-seven years have passed, and times sure have changed.

Little boys when I last saw them, bridegroom Harry and brother William now parade balding Windsor pates. Two of William’s children were among bride Meghan Markle’s junior attendants. Kate Middleton’s middle-class family exuded more allure than their royal in-laws and celebrity wedding guests garnered more attention than anyone. Even the nuptial soprano claimed meeting George Clooney was the best part of her day.

With a showbiz bride at the altar, Hollywood did indeed meet Holyrood. But what really defined this event was an unapologetic decree that multi-culturalism rules in a marriage that represents the state of Britain’s Commonwealth. Stunning in Givenchy, a mixed-race bride strode the aisle alone. She was not property to be given away. She took her father-in-law’s arm for a few final steps, allowing the stunning symbolism of a future king’s blessing. The word “obey” was absent from her vows.

You begin as you mean to continue. This wedding indicates a non-negotiable path for a modern duke and duchess and an apparently accepting royal family.

Meghan’s path to a splendid marriage was strewn with carpet tacks rather than rose petals. She hails from a crisis-prone clan. She’s American and divorced. If this was enough to rule out Wallace Simpson as a royal bride in 1936, family baggage is now more common than coronets among Windsor ranks. She might be an actress but the happiness she has brought to the Queen’s once-troubled grandson is no act – Harry’s wedding day tears were real. Moreover, the bride promises to be a stunning weapon for Windsor popularity. The arcane tradition of divine right survives only through adaptability and the new duke and duchess will help make royalty relevant to millions.  As an actress, Meghan will smile and charm her way through a life-sentence of tedium; as humanitarians who bring attention and energy to good causes, she and her besotted husband will be fantastic ambassadors for the Windsor “Firm.”

Thirty-seven years ago, no one could have told me Elizabeth II would hear a pulpit-thumping sermon steal her Archbishop of Canterbury’s thunder; that her grandson would exit his wedding to gospel anthems and ululations from Middle Eastern fans. But she is wise to endure Meg and Harry’s conquest. She accepts that millions will embrace the cosmopolitan couple like rock stars. Their children will endear royalty to future generations of her multicultural Commonwealth. Best yet, the Sussexes are too distant to the throne to threaten succession!

So, Meaghan may borrow Queen Mary’s tiara any time she likes. The Windsors will bend over en arrière to avoid mistakes that alienated a previous people’s princess. In his address, Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry contended love was a fire – if harnessed – that could change the world. If the Sussex marriage is good, Meghan and Harry’s love might just do that. Wish them well.

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American Legion Has Its Day at the State Capitol

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-05-24

Photo courtesy Dana Nichol

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On April 25 more than 70 members of American Legion posts throughout the state of California, along with members of the American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion, spent an informative and interactive day meeting their legislators and sharing their concerns for the future of the more than 1.7 million veterans living in the Golden State.

The American Legion is one of the largest veteran advocates in the United States. Sons of the American Legion (SAL) also exists to honor the services and sacrifices of those who served their country.

Veterans Legislative Advocate Seth Reeb welcomed attendees with an explanation of the day’s events and kept the program moving as Assembly members and Senators from El Dorado Hills, Napa, Merced, Thousand Oaks, Riverside, Fullerton, Dana Point (Orange County), and Oceanside, many of them veterans themselves, explained the legislation they are sponsoring.  

Dr. Vito Imbasciani M.D., secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and head of the CalVet Leadership Team, spoke of the tragic killing of three staffers by a former patient at the Yountville Veterans Home on March 10, 2018. The patient was in a special program for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  SB1314 has been introduced to prevent this from happening again.

Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) each received the Department’s 2017 Leo P. Burke Legislator of the Year Award for their leadership, support and dedication to the veterans and service members of California.

Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) is working on Senate Bill SB 1375 that would reinstate the “VETERAN” license plate, which will be available only to veterans. Gaines spoke of his father who at 18 years joined the Army Air Corps during World War II, serving on a tail gunner on a bomber in Germany.

Assemblyman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) and Chair of the Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs described AB 2325, which would protect an eligible veteran’s ability to access county mental or behavioral health services.

Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, explained his Bill, SB 1080, which would streamline the state’s driver licensing requirements for active duty military and their families so they can begin earning extra income from ridesharing companies such as Lyft and Uber without unnecessary fees and delays.

Other examples of bills included AB 2394, which exempts military retirement pay from California state income tax, AB 2801, which addresses the problem of veteran and law enforcement memorials being vandalized, and SB 1452, which would establish the War on Terror Memorial Committee to look into the feasibility of the construction of a memorial in or around the State Capitol Park.

Other proposed legislation addresses veteran housing, homelessness, issues with disabled veterans, and more funding for county veterans service officers from the current $5.6 million to $7 million.

Elizabeth Perez-Halperin, a U.S. Navy veteran, was recently named Deputy Secretary of Minority Veterans at the California Department of Veteran Affairs. She gave a presentation of her work with minority and unrepresented veterans including African American, Latino, Native American, LGBT, and the homeless. In a recent issue of CalVet Connect, she describes her work, “To help immigrant veterans become naturalized citizens.” Herself a member of the Native American community, she said, “I am committed to ensuring that we actively identify and address any challenges in serving ALL veterans.”

The American Legion (AL) and American Legion Auxiliary (ALA), both founded in 1919, exist to help veterans and their families. The AL is active in supporting the interests of veterans and representing on their behalf.  According to the ALA, they are the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. Working side-by-side with their American Legion posts, members volunteer tens of thousands of hours in their communities and raise millions of dollars to support its programs.

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Maestro Kendrick Shares His Final Bow

By Anthony Barcellos  |  2018-05-24

SCSO Conductor led the 250-voice Chorus and Orchestra in the West Coast premiere of Dan Forrest

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - When a distinguished professor retires into emeritus status, we expect him to be taking a bow at his retirement party. However, Don Kendrick of Sacramento State found a way to have his students take a bow with him. And he did it simply by including them in the public performance celebrating his retirement.

Kendrick is the founder of the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra, which honored their creator with an event on May 12 at the Community Center Theater. The performers included 280 singers, 3 soloists, and an orchestra of 52 professional musicians. The huge force was assembled by combining the musicians of the SCSO with Sacramento State’s three choirs — the Women's Chorus, the Men's Chorus, and the University Chorus — and the Sacramento Children’s Chorus.

The concert comprised three works: Ottorino Respighi’s Suite No. 2 of “Ancient Airs and Dances,” Antonín Dvorák’s “Te Deum,” and the West Coast premiere of Dan Forrest’s “Jubilate Deo.” The Respighi work is a purely orchestral composition, so the tiers of seats for the singers were empty as Kendrick launched the performance with a sense of anticipation. As SCSO president Jim McCormick noted in his pre-performance presentation, Respighi “gets the endorphins flowing!”

The singers filed in and filled the performance space to capacity for Dvorák’s “Te Deum,” an ancient hymn of praise in Latin. With a text derived from the Book of Psalms, the “Te Deum” was a joyous foreshadowing of the new work constituting the evening’s concluding work, which was also derived from the Psalms. Supertitles helpfully provided both Latin text and English translation.

After the intermission, Maestro Kendrick led the ensemble in Forrest’s “Jubilate Deo” (Be joyful in the Lord), a cosmopolitan composition comprising seven world languages in seven movements. The boisterous first segment in Latin cites passages from Psalm 100 and exhorts the entire world (“omnis terra”) to celebrate. The second movement is an ethereal exchange of statements and echoes in Hebrew and Arabic, a plaintive call for unity.

The third movement incorporated the Chinese two-stringed fiddle, played with bow by guest performer David An. The Mandarin text derived from Psalm 23’s invocation of the Good Shepherd, and the music was a tranquil meditation highlighted by a soprano soloist.

After being lulled into a sense of peaceful serenity by two movements, the audience was jolted into full wakefulness with the percussion-driven opening of the fourth movement, as the chorus sang out a Zulu text calling for enthusiastic celebration. The kinetic impact of the movement was felt throughout the theater, and the singers were swaying to the music’s dance impulse.

The fifth movement offers a lyrical respite, “Bendecid su nombre” (Bless his name), with Spanish-language text and a mood of contemplation. Strings are prominent, with both harp and guitar accompaniment.

The title of the sixth movement is “Song of the Earth,” but it is not evocative of Mahler. Rather, it is a wordless celebration of the entire world, until eventually the singing of the performers resolves into one word: Alleluia!

The finale encompasses all that went before in recapitulation and closes the circle of life with evocations of the opening bars, particularly the “jubilate” (celebrate) theme. The title is “Omnis Terra” (the whole world), and it builds to a dramatic climax full of excitement and drama. The audience, full of pent-up energy because of the frequent reminders to be quiet as the performance was being recorded, finally burst into explosive applause and shouts of approval. Kendrick took his bows, as did his students and all the other performers with him.

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