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In Step With the Season : A street fair in Ventura launches the festivities followed by a parade and several dance events.


There are loads of country-Western holiday happenings planned around the countyand up the coast. Not every venue has made its holiday plans. So watch the column for updates and more events. Meanwhile, here's a sampler of what to expect.

Dec. 4: Thousands of visitors are expected along downtown Main Street between Fir Street and Ventura Avenue for the city of Ventura's 18th Annual Holiday Street Festival. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. you'll find loads of free family activities including a Santa Claus, pony rides, art projects for kids and food and crafts booths. The Rhythm Rangers, a popular country-rock band, will perform from 1:45 to 4 p.m. on the main stage located at Fir and Main streets. For details, call 654-7830.

Dec. 13: Join deejay-dance instructor Rick Henderson for a Splash Country Christmas Fair at his Tuesday Rockin' Rodeo dance night at Splash Night Club. $5 gets you in the door, dance lessons at 6:30 and 7:15 p.m., a chicken buffet, and dancing, 8 to 11 p.m. Meet "Santa Claus" and enter the Rick Henderson look-alike, chili or baked goods contests. The judging starts at 9 p.m. at Splash in the Radisson Hotel, 999 Enchanted Way, Simi Valley, 583-2000.

Dec. 17: The 18th Annual Ventura Harbor's Parade of Lights has gone country with this year's "Country-Western Theme," and it's expected to attract 15,000 to 20,000 spectators. The family-oriented festivities begin at 2 p.m. in Ventura Harbor Village with caroling, Santa Claus, a children's petting zoo, pony rides and country music and dancing to the Rhythm Rangers band. The popular Parade of Lights, featuring dozens of decorated vessels and a spectacular light show, will start at 6 p.m. Ventura Harbor Village is at 1559 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura, 642-6746.

Dec. 29 and 30: Club-owner Susette has the good sense to spend New Year's Eve at home in her bunny slippers. So at the Galleon Room, Santa Barbara's favorite place for couples-oriented country dancing, you get the jump on 1995. It's your last chance to catch the popular Sky King band before it adds vocalist Troy Robinson and become Caught Red Handed. There's never a cover charge at the Galleon and free dance lessons on Dec. 29 will be for Rocky Top and Texas County Line, a classic couples' dance done to the song, "Darlene." No reservations needed--just look inside the Orchid Bowl, 5925 Calle Real, Goleta, 967-0128.

Dec. 31, New Year's Eve parties: Most bands start playing at 8:30 p.m. and reservations are a must:

Folks can dance the night away with Jimmy Dale and the Desperados, longtime house band at the Ban-Dar, Ventura County's original honky-tonk. This is where many country dance instructors got their start or first took lessons. And the place will probably be there long after others have switched to reggae or salsa music. Management says, "New Year's Eve is always our biggest night." But there's no fancy menu planned. Just place an order at the Ban-Dar Bar & Grill's back window and Marilyn will fix you up at her "kitchen." Reservations suggested. $9 in advance or $15 per person at the door includes champagne and party favors. The Ban-Dar is at 3005 E. Main St., Ventura, 653-9176.

The Crazy Bull Steakhouse & Saloon has again enlisted Shiloh to help usher in the new year. Choose between two couples packages or--space permitting--skip dinner and just dance. Either way it's reservations-only. Package A for $135 per couple includes lodging at the adjacent Del Norte Inn, prime rib dinner for two, champagne and party favors. Package B for $100 per couple excludes lodging. The Crazy Bull is located at 4426 Central Ave., Camarillo, 988-4209.

Larry Dean and the Shooters are always a delight. About 90% of his songs are originals. But all his traditional country vocals are perfect for high-energy two-steps, couple-clutcher ballads and anything in between. Be sure to request my favorite, "Man in the Spotlight." $30 per person buys a prime rib dinner served from 6 to 8 p.m. Cousin's is at 2381 Tapo St., Simi Valley, 522-2559.

Maxie's will be jumpin' with the Rhythm Rangers' cover tunes and tons of originals off their new compact disc, to be released mid-December. Details are not available yet, but expect to "party hearty and boogie-woogie" at Maxie's, W. 101 Short St., Oak View, 649-9931.

That fun band, Spaghetti Western, will help you break a sweat while two-steppin' and line dancin' at the City Line Club. The cost for champagne, favors and buffet breakfast is $20 per couple, $13 per person. Cover charge for dancing only, $6. Inside the San Marcos Bowl, 4050 Calle Real, Santa Barbara, 967-5631.

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