BARSTOW — About a hundred families turned out to join in an annual celebration at the Desert Discovery Center on Saturday.
The Mid-Summer Desert Festival educated and entertained a jam-packed crowd including local businesses and agencies, which also featured a lineup of live bands, dance and drama performances, and art demonstrations. Project Director Jane Laraman-Brockhurst called the shots at the fourth annual event as organizer and performer.
“It’s a celebration of all the Discovery Center partners and programs we offer here,” Laraman-Brockhurst said. “But we also invite other community groups so that they can share what’s going on in the community with folks so that they can get engaged and get inspired.”
The gala also spotlighted desert animal and safety presentations, gardening, composting, arts and crafts.
“We have all of our community teams around here in booths,” Laraman-Brockhurst said. “We have park service people here telling people how to explore the desert safely and where to explore.”
In the back classroom, a Route 66 Art Show began its summer run, and paints were waiting for small hands for the Children's Art competition. Just about every corner of the museum was brimming with commotion.
“Out on the patio it’s really all about gardening,” Laraman-Brockhurst said. “We have drought tolerant information since California is in a bit of a pickle right now.”
Barstow resident Patrica Maestas brought her grandson to check out the local wildlife on display.
"My grandson likes the lizards,” Maestas said. “He has never touched a snake, so he was excited about that.”
The performances were young dancers from Studio M dance studio and Desert Wild, the resident band in which Laraman-Brockhurst was the guitarist.
“It’s a fun day for everybody,” Laraman-Brockhurst said. "At the Discovery Center here, we embrace arts education and environmental education, and this is the culmination of all of that, giving them a stage so that they can see what’s really going on in the community.”
Anastasia Jaramillo brought her daughter to perform with Studio M.
“I have heard about this for a while now because my kids like everything and desert exploring,” Jaramillo said. “This event gets everyone out here to learn things they may not know about the desert.”
Myrla Pate curated the Route 66 art show, which features local artists and their perceptions of the historic highway.
“We called a few specific artists,” Pate said. "But in the end we put out a call to the community about art and what we got was a great variety. We also have paintings, sculpture and unusual things you might not know from Route 66.”
The art show completion was decided later that day by a raffle draw.
“We have so many visitors to the Discovery Center because we are on Route 66,” Pate said. “We may keep this art show going and move it to place to a place during the summer.”