BARSTOW — The smell of homestyle cooking filled the air Saturday morning as residents came out to celebrate the history and heritage of the region.

The 51st Annual Open House and BBQ at the Mojave River Valley Museum invited families to discover their desert heritage with this year's theme “From Grandpa to Grandchildren.”

“We’ve been doing this event for a long time, but this year we wanted to focus on the youth and get them excited about history,” said museum founder Cliff Walker. “Sadly, not that many young people are interested in learning about their history or our museum and we hope to change that.”

According to Walker, the annual BBQ first began in 1966, and was hosted by the Barstow Kiwanis Club, with help from other service clubs, to help finance the opening of the museum.

Visitors walking in and out of the museum had to be on the look out for eager children scampering around during a youth historical scavenger hunt. Children enjoyed blacksmith demonstrations, gold panning, and historic spinning while they attempted to locate the various items on their lists.

Tami Reeck, of Barstow, and her three boys Lucas, Gavin and Clab happily explored the museum while exclaiming their knowledge of the various rocks and stones on display.

“We’ve lived here for such a long time yet have never come out to the museum,” Tami Reeck said. “It’s a wonderful place and there’s a lot of historic things here that we’ve been learning so much about today.”

Samples of sourdough biscuits, sarsaparilla, homemade butter and jam were also available for residents to enjoy as they looked at the handful of displays at the museum, including the Daggett Jail where guests could experience what it was like to be locked up back in the old days.

Guest speakers Claudia and Alan Heller spoke about their new book “Curiosities of the California Desert,” which focuses on the wacky and historic places people can see while traveling the desert.

“We’re just happy to have been here to share our love and some of the history of California and what better way to have done that then right here at the museum,” Claudia Heller said. “We do hope the younger people see that someone else's history is just as important as the history they’re making.”

Monica Solano can be reached at MSolano @VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6231. Follow her onTwitter @DP_MonicaInes.