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VENTURA COUNTY BEST BETS

Cultural

February 08, 2001

An Asian Cultural Festival in downtown Ventura on Friday evening will celebrate the Chinese New Year--the Year of the Snake. Hosted by Connie Brose, owner of Goldlion Galley, the festivities will include traditional Chinese music with dancers and drums, Chinese lion dance, storytelling by historian Richard Senate and other cultural activities.

* Asian Cultural Festival; Friday, 6:30 p.m.; Knights of Columbus Hall, 36 S. Figueroa St., Ventura. Free. 653-7955.

1960s Minstrel

Country Joe McDonald enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame after performing at Woodstock in 1969 with his band Country Joe & the Fish. His celebrity soon faded, but he never stopped playing his brand of music rooted in country-folk and leftist politics. You can catch him Saturday evening in an installment of the Back Lot Theater concert series in Thousand Oaks.

* Country Joe McDonald; Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Gold Coast Center for the Arts, Back Lot Theater, 1408 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. $35. 497-8606.

Opera

Opera Unplugged, Ventura County's only professional opera company, will open "Bella Notte--Opera's Greatest Hits" Saturday at the Laurel Theatre in Ventura. Sopranos Kerry Walsh, Arlene Thomas and Vicki Harrop will be joined by tenor Gabriel Reoyo-Pazos, baritone Dan Tullis Jr. and bass Gene Brundage to perform selections from "Tosca," "Faust," "Cosi fan Tutte" and "Andre Chenier." Also on tap, a preview of the upcoming production of "La Boheme."

* Opera Unplugged; Saturday and Feb. 16, 8 p.m.; Sunday and Feb. 18, 2:30 p.m.; Laurel Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. General: $32.50 for evening performances; $27.50 for matinees. Senior citizens: $25 ages 55 and older. Student rush: $8 (must have ID) five minutes before curtain. 641-3839.

Benefit Home Tour

If waltzing through expensive beachfront abodes sounds like fun, consider Sunday's Channel Islands Ballet Home Tour. The benefit, which will raise funds for the company's youth dance programs, will highlight four Faria Beach homes, each with a panoramic view of the ocean.

* Channel Islands Ballet Home Tour; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Begins at 3674 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Faria Beach; continues at residences at 3688, 4014 and 4018 PCH. Advance $20; day of event $25. 384-8558 or 384-8559.

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