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FESTIVALS & EVENTS : History Is Their Mission

August 27, 1992|FRANK MESSINA

If you ever wondered why the San Juan Mission, Dana Point, Mission Viejo and most of Camp Pendleton was given free to the Forster family by California Gov. Pio Pico in the 1830s, on Saturday, you can just ask him.

California's first Mexican governor will be present, along with Gaspar Portola, Don Juan Forster and many other historical figures from South County's cattle country past, at the third annual Rancho Days at the Mission San Juan.

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Mission grounds will revert to the period between 1825 and 1865, when the cow was king and the Mission was the main way station for dusty travelers between San Diego and Los Angeles.

Living history characters will circulate among the crowd, and among them will be Gov. Pico, who will tell you that his sister married Don Juan Forster, who drew upon his relationship with the Mexican-appointed governor to purchase most of South County at reasonable prices, historians say. Craftsmen will show off their talents in blacksmithing, basket weaving, glass blowing, doll making and other period skills. A local theater group will hold short skits throughout the day, depicting the early rancho lifestyle.

Visitors are encouraged to wear Western attire. Guided tours of the Mission will also be available. Other activities will include Western dance lessons, a cowboy poetry recital and a flamenco dancing performance. Barbecued steak and corn and soft drinks will be sold.

After the festival, a country-Western concert featuring local musician Rusty Richards will start at 5:45 p.m., also on the Mission grounds.

What: Rancho Days.

When: Saturday, Aug. 29. Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; country-Western concert starts at 5:45 p.m.

Where: Mission San Juan, corner of Ortega Highway and Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano.

Whereabouts: Interstate 5 south to Ortega Highway exit. Turn right (west) off exit and go two blocks to mission.

Wherewithal: $2 to $3, free for those ages 6 and under and 60 and over.

Where to Call: (714) 248-2049.

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