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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Annual Carnival a Joy Ride for Its Organizer

Festival: Simi Valley Days event is more a passion than a job for June Wimer, who started it 16 years ago. This year's version opens today and runs through Sunday.

September 20, 2000|PAUL ANDERSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SIMI VALLEY — Sitting in her air-conditioned white Cadillac near the site where the 16th annual Simi Valley Days carnival starts today, organizer June Wimer seemed to be on her own personal joy ride.

After heading up city festivals for more than 30 years in east Ventura County, she considers it more of a passion than a job.

Wimer said she has remained upbeat even as rumbles grow in town that the Simi event may have to find a new home next year.

"Am I proud of this? Believe me, I am," Wimer said. "It started with 10 rides. Now it's got 24 rides, and they have a rodeo and other entertainment."

Wimer, who helped launch Conejo Valley Days in the late 1960s, laughed recalling how her husband ridiculed the idea of a carnival in the Conejo Valley.

"My husband said, 'You don't want to do that. There's nothing but jack rabbits there,' " she said.

The Conejo festival, of course, has since enjoyed decades of success.

That grabbed the attention of Simi Valley Kiwanis Club members, who recruited Wimer to start a similar carnival in their town 16 years ago.

Simi Valley Days organizers have staged the annual fund-raiser at 1st Street off the 118 Freeway for the past four years.

The event raises about $250,000 annually for local charities and service organizations such as the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, said Jo Ann Macek, the festival's executive director.

Reg Richardson, newly elected president of the Simi Valley Kiwanis Club, said the carnival alone will raise about $30,000 that the club will give to local charities.

This may be one of the last years the event is held on the 1st Street site, which is targeted for a proposed shopping mall.

Macek said getting the mall up and running could take two years.

But City Councilwoman Barbra Williamson said the property's owner, Ronnie Lam, has told city officials it could be sooner.

"We're closer today than we've ever been. It is a very, very good possibility" the mall could get started next year, Williamson said.

Macek and Williamson were confident the event's organizers and city officials would be able to find another home for the Simi Valley Days.

Whether or not it's the end for the festival on 1st Street, it should be notable for a number of new rides, organizers said.

The Sky Diver, a Ferris wheel-style ride, will flip riders upside-down as it rotates to the top.

The Orient Express roller coaster is also new, as is the Sea Dragon, a large Viking ship that swings 80 feet high as it rocks back and forth.

The Simi Valley Days parade will get started at 9 a.m. Saturday at Erringer Road and Los Angeles Avenue.

Members of the state champion Simi Valley High School Academic Decathlon team will serve as parade grand marshals.

Simi Valley Days

Events are at 1st Street just north of the Ronald Reagan Freeway.

CARNIVAL

* 5 to 10 p.m. today and Thursday

* 5 p.m. to midnight Friday

* 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday

* Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday

MUSICAL LINEUP

Today:

* Three jazz bands from Santa Susana High School will play from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

* Better Off (classic rock), 7 to 8 p.m.

* Hurley Burley (classic rock), 8:15 to 10 p.m.

Thursday:

* Wal-Mart fashion show for kids, 5 to 6:30 p.m.

* Jewels of the Nile belly dancers, 6:45 to 7:30 p.m.

* Inside Straight (soft rock), 7:30 to 10 p.m.

Friday:

* Three high school rock bands play from 5 to 6:15 p.m.

* Studebaker Hawks (hard rock), 7:45 to 8:45 p.m.

* Dizzy Lilacs (hard rock), 9 to 10:15 p.m.

* Stone Sole (hard rock), 10:30 p.m. to midnight

Saturday:

* Marching band awards from the parade will be handed out at 1:30 p.m.

* Tracy Casom Dancers, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

* The Brownbaggers band (includes Simi Valley police officers), 3:45 to 5 p.m.

* Paradox (country), 5 to 6 p.m.

* Visions (country), 6:15 to 7:15 p.m.

* Heartache (country), 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

* Conejo Cloggers (dancers), 8:30 to 9 p.m.

* Dave Storm and Thundercreek (country), 9 to 11 p.m.

Sunday:

* Pilgrim (Christian rock), 5 to 6 p.m.

* El Rancho Folklorico Dancers, 6:15 to 7:15 p.m.

* The band known last year as the Mariachis, 7:30 to 10 p.m.

RODEO

* Saturday at 6 p.m.

* Sunday at 2 p.m.

Kowchip bingo will be held at 1 p.m. at the Rodeo Arena.

For information, call 581-4280 or check the Web site at http://www.simivalleydays.com.

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