Articles in "Ventura"

Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show

by Ventura County Now

June 2nd, 2014

Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show

Shopping and entertainment combine for the ultimate fun-filled weekend at the Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show at the Ventura County Fairgrounds October 3-5, 2014.

 The showcase features hundreds of artisans with more than 24,000 handcrafted originals, stage entertainment, a Kidzone, strolling performers, contests, a pumpkin patch, specialty foods, and more. The festive fall-themed atmosphere makes exploring the array of exhibits and adventure with such an amazing collection of beautiful jewelry, blown glass, ceramics, hand woven clothing, children's accessories, sculptures, holiday ornaments, and more.

When you bring a non perishable for donation to FOOD Share you received $2 off Festival admission.


Orca Whale Watching Pictures and Video off Chanel Islands Coast

by Ventura County Now

January 2nd, 2014

We set out in the afternoon on a typical whale watching trip intent on encountering southbound Gray whales.

The trips of late have been spectacular with incredible weather and consistent sightings.

When we cleared the breakwater, besides being met by an extremely calm ocean, something seemed awry.

Having spent my entire life on these waters leading trips, there existed a different kind of calm…an eerie unnatural calm.

We had returned from our morning trip, just a half hour prior leaving behind a channel filled with south bound whales and massive pods of common dolphin. Sea lions were observed in every direction…but not now.

This type of still, this calm besets a region with a top predator in the area.

Something was around that has swiftly voided all life, and has sent sea lions scampering for higher ground.

Then, off on the horizon several miles away, make no mistake, the tall dorsal sail of an adult male Orca.

Nothing can begin to describe the feeling when this apex predator lands squarely in the field of view of your binoculars.

It’s like winning a jackpot on a slot machine…just a feeling of excitement and awe all wrapped into one.

We traveled some 3 miles to catch up to what would ultimately be a pod of 7 of the most curious, playful and interactive Orcas I have had the opportunity to observe.

For 2 solid hours we tracked along with them often stopping as they approached us, curiously rolling over looking at all those onboard.

It was one of those encounters I will take with me the rest of my life.

This is our second encounter in as many days.

We are out daily…enjoy the images.

Capt. Frank


Thank you for visiting our blog. We look forward to you joining us on your next aquatic adventure. A 50%-off coupon is attached which is valid for one year.  By sharing this link through any social media such as Facebook any of your friends or family members will be able to receive this 50% coupon as well.


Click on the coupon below and become a member of the POD where you will receive exclusive offers and promotions. We look forward to seafaring with you.

Channel Islands Whale Watching Coupon

Please Note:  To be eligible for and to receive the discount you need to sign-up for and join our POD club.  Please do not print coupon off of this page—Coupon is valid only with successful POD club sign up.  Sign-up is FREE.

Halloween DUI Driving Under the Influence in Ventura County

by Jennifer Zide - Attorney

November 1st, 2013

As we venture out in Ventura County this Halloween, whether as a werewolf drinking pina coladas at Trader Vics (his hair SO perfect), a singing princess warding off zombie attack, or a practically pristine Snow White, we can all find ourselves in a precarious position – one drink too many or a ghoulish crowd can turn even the most sugar-coated scene into something spooky. Common scenarios you might unintentionally find yourselves in this Halloween: ( 1 ) overdose on “mini” candy bars since they are not “real” candy impairs your judgment, leading to yet more risky business and lapses in judgment, such as talking to tall, dark and handsome fanged strangers or holding an unknown, extremely hyper ghoul’s purse (later subject to search) while she does the time warp again; ( 2 ) tiny princess costume and/or tutu that would only fit a min pin (that’s miniature pinscher to those not in the know) gets impossibly mini as the night progresses, attracting more attention to your candy-impaired state, while impossibly high heels make you look like you are weaving and unsteady on your feet; ( 3 ) hanging out with the “wrong” crowd of ghouls downtown, drinking not fully understood brightly colored potions, rushing to get home before midnight, your coach turns back into a pumpkin, a.k.a. you are stopped by law enforcement; ( 4 ) in case you are having a real bad night,you accidentally mistake the real officer for someone in an officer costume,resist his attempts to arrest you and/or search your “goodie bag” without probable cause, and, following best princess etiquette, inform him politely that he is “not a very nice officer”. Yes, the night could have gone better but the worst part of it is that you, an inoffensive soul who was only one small step away from wearing an angel costume tonight, are now under arrest. This Halloween, even an innocent ghoul could get herself into a lot of trouble.


SO… what do you do when you don’t get home before midnight?


Even an innocent ghoul could be mistakenly arrested for driving under the influence. For example, many of the common symptoms that officers are trained to look for when they first interact with you – odor of alcohol, red watery eyes, slurred speech – are not clear evidence of impairment. Even if you have an odor of alcohol on your breath, it does not mean that you are at .08% or higher blood alcohol content or that your ability to drive is impaired. Similarly, red watery eyes may strongly suggest a very tired ghoul, not an alcohol-infused one. And frankly, any red-eyed devil in a blue dress could look a bit blurry over Denny’s pancakes at 3 a.m.. It is possible that the use of jedi mind tricks, in which you assure the officer that he doesn’t need to see your identification and that you are not doing anything wrong, may not always work. This may be especially true, depending on your costume. In that case, you must resort to your criminal defense attorney to make that same point, while wielding reasonable doubt like a light saber (blasters are far too clumsy). Much of the evidence that officers are trained to collect in their investigation is open to one of two reasonable interpretations – one that points to guilt and the other to innocence. This is called “circumstantial evidence”. Your criminal defense attorney will bring to life the innocent explanations like a fairy godmother brings sparkling possibility to our apparent everyday, delve into areas of reasonable doubt like Indiana Jones digging for the Ark of the Covenant, and be there for you like a five-year-old keeping watch over his bag of good chocolate (not the “filler”, which is a cheat and a lie, but that’s a whole other discussion).


There are likely other areas of reasonable doubt in any good ghoul’s case. A ghoul rushing home before the witching hour may be speeding,but is that a “driving pattern” that suggests impairment in the same way as weaving? When it comes to confronting the blood alcohol test result, clients often see the numbers as an impending tide of zombies piling up on the other side of a collapsing fence. However, the final outcome is not yet determined. Under what circumstances was the sample obtained? Did the officer follow all proper procedures that are in place in an attempt to insure a reliable test result?Are there any issues of sample contamination? Are there any reasons to believe that the test result shown may be open to question? All these are important questions to explore and so uncover, under it all, the truth. The truth is there, like that one Snickers hidden at the bottom of a trick or treat plastic pumpkin even though all you can see is a hundred bazooka or those rolls that pretend to be tootsie rolls.  


Drinking pattern issues may also be lurking in your Driving Under the Influence case this Halloween. In a common Halloween scenario, officers will stop a client very soon after leaving an apparent drinking establishment. In that case, if the client was drinking right up until the time he left, there may be a question as to whether his blood alcohol content at the time of driving was, in fact, at .08% blood alcohol content. This could be the case even when a client’s test result taken, for example, fifteen to twenty minutes after the time of observed driving, is above a .08% blood alcohol content. With the help of your criminal defense attorney, who understands that ghouls are sometimes not all that ghoulish after all, only misunderstood based on first appearances, you can toss water on that evil witch of a case and watch it melt. As Cinderella reminds us, even if you only get one dance, you lose a really cute shoe, your ride turns into a pumpkin, you don’t get home before midnight,and you’re pretty sure you’ll never see that hot prince again… there is always –out there somewhere – a happy ending. That’s what criminal defense attorneys are for. Bibidi-Bobidi-Boo.

New Online lighting design showroom serving Ventura County!

by Ventura County Now

November 9th, 2012 is pleased to welcome local merchant Lights Beautiful's new website to our county wide directory. At "", you can find an already vast online showroom, which is rapidly expanding! This easy to navigate online showroom at provides residents of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks and Westlake the ability to view the large selection of lights and accessories they have available. The website affords you the ability to browse through several lighting options at your leisure. All products and services available from a store specializing in one thing... lighting! The online experience expands the range of a long established local merchant to reach more customers, and provide expertly tailored design ideas for them! Feel free to visit them on Facebook and be sure to like them for specials and updates. Remember, customer service is a priority at Lights Beautiful, and they listen to their customers to provide them something truly unique. You will find the same attention to customer satisfaction whether online, or paying them an in-store visit! And, keep in mind, besides being able to provide better, individualized attention to customer needs, small businesses are truly what make us a community! So, avoid the larger warehouse tedium and support a local merchant supported by Ventura County Now! Lights Beautiful can help illuminate your world YOUR way.

Is making changes to your website a strain that you would rather not have to face?

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
September 14th, 2012

Turn and face the strain

Is making changes to your website a strain that you would rather not have to face?

You don’t have to be a David Bowie fan to be reminded of the everyday changes and strains of running a business.

Everyone needs to make changes to their website from time to time, especially restaurants. Most all restaurants have their menus posted on their websites and if they need to make changes, it can be a real hassle. The Final Code has the technology that allows restaurant owners or their staff to easily make changes to their menu and any other section of their website in seconds.

The Final Code offers easy to use, flexible websites that are a perfect fit for restaurants or any other business that want to easily add pages, make changes and get high rankings on search engines.

Ric’s Restaurant located in Camarillo recently took advantage of The Final Codes technology and upgrade to a new Total Control website. Today the owners of Ric’s Restaurant attended a free class at The Final Code’s offices in Ventura and learned how to use their new website’s features. After their short tutorial with The Final Code staff, they now can make adjustments to their menu items, change prices and specials on the fly!

Visit Ric’s Restaurant @ and check out their tasty menu!

Call The Final Code if you ‘re having to call your web company to request changes to your website and have to wait forever to get the changes done. No more strain is just a call away!



Internet Marketing Class Ventura The Final Code Internet Marketing company ventura The Final Code

Top Venture Law Firm Releases a New Website Dedicated To Help Those in Need

by David Williams

Ventura County Now Staff
June 4th, 2012

Farley, Cassy, Schwartz and Powell – The law firm with the most not guilty verdicts in Ventura County

As a partner in a very successful law firm, Steven D. Powell, Esq. believes it is not only essential to provide superior representation for his clients, but he also believes it is essential to make potential clients aware of his firm.  Farley, Cassy, Schwartz and Powell has more not guilty verdicts over any other firm in Ventura County and Mr. Powell felt those in legal trouble should have every opportunity to find his firm and get the best possible representation.

Mr. Powell has been a member of the California State Bar since 1981. He is UCSB undergraduate, UCLA Law School graduate and former Deputy District Attorney Ventura County. Presently, he is defending those accused of crime and other misconduct. Mr. Powell has tried cases from simple assault to death penalty murder. One of the most distinguished and successful trial lawyers in Ventura County, Mr. Powell also litigates significant civil matters. Mr. Powell blogs about criminal law issues at this website,


After years of defending clients Mr. Powell knows how a family member feels when a loved one is accused of a crime. Imagine one day getting the news that your loved one was put in jail and faced serious charges and a lengthy prison sentence. Family members are understandingly very distraught and feel a great sense of urgency to find the best lawyer to end their nightmare and get their loved one freed from all charges. Mr. Powell felt that if a client or their loved ones needed to find the very best law firm, it should be easy and stress free.

Mr. Powell felt that yellow page ads are becoming obsolete and radio, television, and print ads are hit and miss at best. He knew potential clients were increasingly going online to search for a criminal defense team. Furthermore, he found that potential clients needed more information than a yellow page ad or a thirty second radio or television ad would provide to make an informed decision. Mr. Powell knew he needed to go full force into internet marketing.

Dedicated to assuring those in need of legal help found his firm, Mr. Powell decided to create a powerful web presence. He had a top web production company design a new website for his firm, rich with videos outlining the strengths of his firm and introducing the Farley, Cassy, Schwartz and Powell team.  Now a potential client seeking representation can get a proper introduction to his firm, get vital information about the crime charged against them, and make an informed decision.

Choosing the right criminal defense attorney can be the most important decision of one’s life, and once the decision is made, a lot of stress is relieved as the client and the clients loved ones realize they are now in good hands.

Ventura County located on California's Pacific coast

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
December 1st, 2011

Ventura County is a county in the southern part of the U.S. state of California. It is located on California's Pacific coast. It is often referred to as the Gold Coast, and has a reputation of being one of the safest populated places and one of the most affluent places in the country. It is ranked as one of the 100 highest-income counties in the country and as the sixth wealthiest county in California by per capita income. This is partly because it is part of the Tech Coast Area, and has a large presence in technology corporations like telecommunications, healthcare, development, and especially biotech corporations, most of which are located in the Conejo Valley. As of December 2008, the median home price was $355,000.

As of the 2010 census, the county had a population of 823,318. The county seat is the city of Ventura (formally known as San Buenaventura). Ventura County's largest city is Oxnard, with a population of about 200,000.

Ventura County can be separated into two major parts, East County and West County. East County consists of all cities east of the Conejo Grade. Geographically East County is the end of the Santa Monica Mountains, in which the Conejo Valley is located, and where there is a considerable increase in elevation. Communities which are considered to be in the East County are Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Lake Sherwood, Hidden Valley, Santa Rosa Valley, Oak Park, Moorpark, and Simi Valley. A majority of these communities are in the Conejo Valley.

West County, which is everything west of the Conejo Grade, consists of communities such as Camarillo, Oxnard, Somis, Point Mugu,Port Hueneme, Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, and Fillmore. West County consists of some of the first developed cities in the county. The largest beach communities are located in West County on the coastline of the Channel Islands Harbor.


From: Wiki

Master Chorale of Ventura County – Fall Concert Information

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
November 1st, 2011

Master Chorale of Ventura County – Fall Concert Information

TICKET ORDERING 805-654-0995


You are invited to hear VOICES RISING in dazzling song!


WONDROUS MUSIC: “The Requiem by Karl Jenkins


Master Chorale of Ventura County,

Burns Taft, Conductor

With Master Chorale Children’s Choir,

Cheryl Gillaspy, Conductor


Karl Jenkins’ Requiem is a magical mix from many cultures.  Along with the stunningly beautiful Pie Jesu and In Paradisum, it includes Japanese haiku with delicate, epigrammatic commentary on the liturgical text.  Japanese flute, strings and a delicate array of percussion accompany the music.  It unlocks an emotional response unlike any other music. 


Saturday, November 5, 2011, 8 PM

Samuelson Chapel, Cal Lutheran University

60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


Sunday, November 6, 2011

First Presbyterian Church

850 Ivywood Drive, Oxnard, CA 93030


Tickets: $20



Featuring the “Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten


Master Chorale of Ventura County,

Burns Taft, Conductor

with Master Chorale Children’s Choir,

Cheryl Gillaspy, Conductor


Celebrate Christmas with Benjamin Britten’s exuberant “Ceremony of Carols”, featuring voices and harp.  Be inspired by the Choir of Children!!  Enjoy favorite carols, plus special carol selections from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Spain – a musical tradition to treasure!!  


Friday, December 16, 2011, 8 PM

Sunday, December 18, 2011, 4:30 PM

Mission San Buenaventura

211 East Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001


Tickets: $25, Priority Seating; $18, General Seating

Ticket Phone: 805-654-0995



Ventura's July 4th Street Fair - "a Celebration of American Music", Events and Entertainment Line-up

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
July 2nd, 2011

Ventura's July 4th Street Fair - "a Celebration of American Music",  Events and Entertainment Line-up

Ventura's popular 4th of July Street Fair, a 36 year tradition with the city, will be held on Monday, July 4th in the Downtown Ventura Cultural District.  The Independence Day celebration begins officially at 10:00am and continues until 5:00pm.

Street Fair activities will be stretching a full 9 blocks along downtown's Main Street from Fir Street to Mission Park. There will be approximately 300 participating artist and crafters, entertainment on six stages and an assortment of food booths.

Kids' attractions include Pony Rides, Train Rides, WOW Inflatables and Gold Rush Mobile Rock Climbing at Mission Park.  Entertainment will appeal to all attendees.  The Ventura Visitors Bureau will be open for the duration of the street fair, visit them at California and Santa Clara Street along with many of the Downtown Merchants.

Oak Street will host the Sierra Club with their exhibits of environmentally friendly cars.  The Sierra Club will also offer many environmentally friendly and global awareness displays and hands-on activities for children.

Free parking is available in the downtown parking structure, as well as city lots.  Attendees may take the free shuttle bus from the Ventura County Government Center to the Street Fair site every 30 minutes.  Smoking is not allowed on the shuttle bus, and only service animals are permitted (no pets.)

Admission to the Street Fair is free.  This event is presented by the City of Ventura Parks Recreation & Community Partnership Department, and sponsored by Community Memorial Hospital, Ventura Harley Davidson, DSR Audio, the Ventura County Star and Gold Coast Broadcasting.

For further information visit the website at or call (805) 654-7749.

Children, adults and their little red wagons are invited to dress up for the Pushem-Pullem Parade sponsored by the Ventura East Rotary Club that assembles at Cemetery Park (Main & Crimea) at 9:30 am and begins to parade down Main Street at 10:00 am (Participants receive a free commemorative button while supplies last).

4th of July Street Fair ENTERTAINMENT 2011

    10:00am - 11:00am    Bachlorettes & Bachelors
    11:30am - 12:00pm    Channel Islands Clippers
    12:15pm - 12:45pm    Barranca Vista Dancers        
    1:00pm - 1:30pm        Jewels of the Nile
    1:30pm - 2:00pm        Channelaire Chorus    
    2:00pm - 3:00pm        Tina's Port of Paradise    

    11:00am - 3:00pm    Benise
    11:00am - 1:00pm    Pier 101
    2:00pm - 4:00pm      Super Sonic Band
    11:00am - 3:00pm    Jill Martini Soiree

    11:00am - 4:00pm     Duchesla

    11:00am - 4:00pm    Iron Mountain Boys

For further details visit the website at or contact Michelle Godoy at 805.654.7749. 

Heavy crowds turn out for Memorial Day services

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
May 30th, 2011

Heavy crowds turned out Monday for Memorial Day services around Ventura County, exceeding past turnouts and in at least one case topping the number who came to honor the dead after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The 1,000 people converging at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura looked like a possible record to retired Col. George Compton, master of ceremonies.

"The only time all the chairs were filled was after 9/11, and this was overflow today," he said.

Terri Taylor Gonzalez, president of Ivy Lawn, tied the turnout to a surge in patriotism as well as publicity about the 40th annual observance. Veterans said the recent death of Osama bin Laden probably played a role, along with support for the armed forces.

"People are beginning to appreciate the military," said retired dentist Bill Stewart, 85, a Port Hueneme man who served during three wars.

Across the county in Moorpark, Assistant City Manager Hugh Riley said bin Laden's death May 2 and the upcoming 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 have unified Americans.

Nor is the threat over, he said, reminding those attending an observance at the Moorpark Veterans' Memorial of the risk military forces take. The Vietnam veteran said seven soldiers lost their lives in a single blast in Afghanistan last week.

"We must never forget what it means to be an American and never take for granted the sacrifices of those brave men and women who gave their lives so we might live in freedom as Americans," Riley said.

Veterans attending Memorial Day services around Ventura County fought in wars from World War II to Afghanistan. They came from every branch of the service to honor their comrades.

Matt Valenzuela, a sergeant in the Marine Corps and vice commander of American Legion Post 502, spoke in Moorpark about the soldiers he served with during the Korean conflict.

"I'm sure some of the veterans here today joined because you saw a poster that said, 'Join the service and see the world.' We joined, we served, we saw the world, and some of us never returned," said Valenzuela, who urged those in attendance to observe a moment of silence for the fallen warriors.

Army veteran Ramiro Delao, who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, said he comes to the annual observances to support his fellow soldiers who died fighting the war on terrorism.

"I got to serve my country," said the 30-year-old Camarillo resident, who attended the Ivy Lawn ceremony. "I don't think there's any greater honor than that."

Delao and his wife, Vanessa Delao, brought their two daughters, ages 6 and 2, to the observance. Vanessa Delao said she wanted her children to know what the day is about, referring to keynote speaker Navy Capt. James McHugh's words that the holiday is to honor those who have died serving their country, not just a day off work.

Air Force Maj. Matt Glynn, who served four tours in Iraq and is now stationed with the Air National Guard at Point Mugu, expressed the same sentiment. He brought his 4-year-old son to an observance in Westlake Village.

"I just wanted to show my son what Memorial Day is about and honor the friends I have lost after being in the military for 13 years now," he said at the event at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park. "It means a lot to me and I want my son to see that."

Officials said nearly 3,000 people attended the event at the Westlake cemetery, about 500 more than they expected.

"We came just to honor the veterans," said Nicole Krumian of Agoura Hills as she and her family attended the annual event organized by the Conejo-Simi Valley Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

"It's because of them that our country is defended and that we're protected, and I want my kids to see it and understand it and feel pride in their country," she said.

Rabbi Shimon Paskow urged the crowd to remember all who gave their lives in service of their country, from the Revolutionary War to modern-day wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We recall the people who served, the battles that were fought, the hardships endured, the sacrifices that were made and above all, our dear and beloved friends and relatives who gave their lives on land, sea and air for the values we as Americans cherish," said the retired Army colonel.

At a Camarillo ceremony, speaker Michael Blaauw admitted he was a bit nervous, then struck a somber note.

"How we all doing?" the naval chief petty officer said in a Southern drawl at the observance that drew several hundred people to Conejo Mountain Funeral Home and Memorial Park.

"Welcome to the 46th annual Lest We Forget Memorial Day service. I've lost a little of my mojo, being first to speak, because I'm not used to it. But we're going to make something happen today."

Blaauw read the poem "No, Freedom Isn't Free" by retired U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Kelly Strong. The poet tells of seeing a young Marine in uniform saluting the American flag, then of lives cut short.

"I thought of all the children, of the mothers and the wives," Blaauw said, "of fathers, sons and husbands with interrupted lives. I thought about a graveyard at the bottom of the sea, of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, freedom isn't free."

Blaauw continued with an accounting of the terrorist suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Seventeen sailors lost their lives and 39 were injured on Oct. 12, 2000.

"Even when America is not at war, our men and women in the armed forces are striving to preserve peace," he said.

Other observances were held Monday at tiny Bardsdale Cemetery, downtown Ojai, Santa Paula Cemetery, Simi Valley and the new veterans home in Ventura.


By Rachel McGrathMichele Willer-AllredKathleen Wilson

Rhythms of Life Dance for AIDS

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
May 24th, 2011

Rhythms of Life: Dance for AIDS is a community driven, family oriented, multi-cultural dance performance that inspires and uplifts. On May 21, 2011 we shared stories of people living with HIV.

This year we were very fortunate to have the talented CathyJean Butter of Ventura College Dance Department produce the show. CathyJean Butter and Ventura College Dance Alumni and Students weaved creative and cultural dance, music, and journeys with AIDS into an inspirational and educational dance mosaic. 

Our amazing perfomers who lent their time and heart for the cause were: Capoeira at Arts for Action, IJOYA West African Dance & Drum Ensemble, Kealoha and Company Expressions of Polynesia, Nia Fitness Friends, Ñuu Savi Dance Group performs Oaxaca, Ventura College Dance Department.

Kealoha and Company, Expressions of Polynesia performs dances from several islands of the Pacific. The family based groups performs throughout Ventura County. They are interested in performing at Dance for AIDS where they can bring a little of the islands to those who are unable to travel.

Capoeira at Arts for Action’s mission is to foster cultural citizenship and community building through arts education. Capoeira, created by Africans in Brazil, includes drumming, music, dance, martial arts, education and community. Specifically, our efforts focus on producing high quality, accessible, creative opportunities in the Afro-Brazilian art of Capoeira, and in multicultural and multi-disciplinary arts. BBCC is committed to squelching the risk factors caused by racism, sexism, poverty, illiteracy, xenophobia, and homophobia that limit the development of healthy communities and the ability for all people to enjoy the benefits of cultural citizenship. Arts education for adults and children is produced in traditional and non-traditional settings (e.g., theaters, schools, community centers, universities, libraries, museums, and public spaces) to enhance the awareness of Latin America and the African diaspora, and to encourage cosmopolitanism. This is a great venue for us to support a worthy cause that goes hand in hand with our mission.

IJOYA West African Dance & Drum Ensemble’s mission statement is to connect people through cultural dancing while fostering an environment that promotes creativity, communication and becoming one with the drum. They believe that the community must educate on HIV awareness, that a big voice is needed to make a difference. They are honored to be one of many to help join in on this amazing cause here in Ventura County.

Nia Fitness Friends is an enthusiastic gathering of individuals(who primarily dance at the Ventura Nia Center), forming for this event to support the work of VCAP and promote our passion for Nia. Nia is an empowering sensory based movement practice that uses “The Body’s Way” to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness and well-being. People of all shapes and sizes take classes barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries around the world. Nia inspires and uplifts while bringing those who practice it to better health as it teaches us about “Dancing through Life”.

Ñuu Savi Dance Group performs Oaxaca traditional dances. Most of the dancers are from Oaxaca state of Mexico. They dance because it is part of their identify and they want to promote it within the large community of Ventura County. At this time they are presenting “Jarabe Mixteco”. They support this event because they represent a culture that believes in “sharing and giving”. They want to share their traditional dances. They want to give support to VCAP and help achieve their fund rising goals. They believe that together we can make a difference by supporting local HIV/AIDS programs.

Ventura College Dance Department prides itself on community outreach. They have performed for Downtown Ventura Artwalks, for Casa Pacifica and for local schools. Dancing to support the AIDS Partnership is another way for them to share the healing aspects of dance and their creativity through movement towards a better world.

Designer for stars sets up business in Ventura

by Fernando Maxilian

Ventura County Now Staff
April 1st, 2011

When Amy Michelson moved from Los Angeles to Ventura last summer, the bridal gown and celebrity evening wear designer wanted to expand her brand and business so she could work from her new home.

This spring, she branched out to become a personal style and bridal style expert, as well, launching an online style consulting business called Your Private Designer Eye.

Using the Internet, Skype and Facebook, plus other online marketing and communication tools, Michelson mentors brides through their wedding style decisions involving their gown, jewelry, shoes, hairstyle, cake, wedding décor and other wedding issues. Her online business offers personalized wedding and style help and access to a wider range of style options than what is available in stores. She advises brides by taking into consideration features such as their hairstyle, coloring and facial shape, and she is developing an e-newsletter to send to her contacts and clients.

"It's available for non-brides, as well — real women. It's completely personalized," said Michelson, who also offers shopping tips. Clients can sign up for as many online sessions as they want or begin with a basic style assessment.

"I usually charge $275 for a private online intake and celebrity consultation but as a special through the bridal month of June, for Ventura residents (bride or non-bride) it's $197, which includes Amy's intake photo analysis, one-on-one personal Skype or phone session," she said in an email.

The online business is the next logical step for Michelson, 51, who moved to Ventura from Sherman Oaks. She is engaged for the first time, and her fiancé lives in Ventura, so she said it made sense for her to move.

She joked that she was "always the designer, never the bride," and, of course, she will design her own wedding dress.

"I know what I'm wearing, but that's a secret," Michelson said.

"I'm really interested in living here in Ventura and in this lifestyle. It's more who I am. I love living here. Ventura suits me and my sensibility and my style; it's beautiful, but it's relaxed," she said.

Michelson made her name and style known in the fashion world for her bridal gowns that have an elegant, sleek and breezy style mixed with a bit of old Hollywood glamour and a casual flair, and as an evening dress designer for celebrity clients. She's designed red carpet gowns for a long list of actresses and singers, including Halle Berry, Eva Longoria, Faith Hill, Bonnie Raitt, Kim Basinger, Gladys Knight, Michelle Pfeiffer, Salma Hayek, Geena Davis, Anita Baker, Sandra Bullock and Marie Osmond.

She made many celebrity connections yeas ago while working as an actress and fashion designer, becoming comfortable with glamour, high style and working with stars.

Her design style evolved much the same way. In the mid-1990s, Michelson had a young, hip, assistant who was getting married but didn't like the fancy wedding dresses being shown at the time.

"We ended up buying her a vintage Greta Garbo-style dress and reworking it. A light bulb went off in my head. I said, 'Nobody's doing that look for bridal, and it's classic and timeless, sexy and feminine.' "

Destination and beach weddings were becoming popular at the time, too, creating a market for Michelson's style of bridal dresses, which she describes as "sexy in an appropriate way, effortless, not fussy, fluid, flowing, elegant, chic, classic and timeless."

Michelson said her style just happens to appeal to celebrities.

"I didn't seek them out. They liked my wedding gowns, and we transferred them into color for the red carpet," she said. "Movie stars need to pull focus. They need to show up on the red carpet and look perfect. A bride is in the same position. She is going to be photographed, and she needs to feel confident."

Michelson's dresses have been featured on many wedding, style and reality TV shows such as "Say Yes to the Dress," "She's Got the Look," "Entertainment Tonight," the "Today" show, "Extreme Makeover: Wedding Edition," "Hollywood Insider" and "Wedding Day."

Next, she will appear as herself on the reality show "Brides of Beverly Hills," with the episode airing later this year. Her gowns also have graced the covers of wedding magazines including Brides, InStyle, Modern Bride, Inside Weddings, Brides UK, Bridal Guide and Los Angeles Magazine, and her formal gowns have been shown in other magazines such as Vogue and People.

She initially studied fine art at Bard College in New York, but she didn't want to be a painter. She liked fashion and had a summer job one year on Long Island, where she met a lot of people working in New York's garment district.

"I said, 'I can do that,' " she said. "I came from an artistic family. My grandmother was a painter and my mother was an art teacher. I was supported in being creative."

She transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York City and earned a bachelor of arts in fashion design. She moved to Hollywood to work for a designer and also as an actor, appearing on the TV shows "Falcon Crest," "China Beach" and "Head of the Class," and in the John Belushi biographical film, "Wired," among others.

 By:Amy Bently