FALLBROOK – As live music wafted through the fall air, guests lined up for a ride on the ever-popular horse-drawn stagecoach. The attraction is a tradition at Stagecoach Sunday, the annual fundraiser for the Fallbrook Land Conservancy that also features a barbecue lunch, kids’ activities and more.
This was not, however, just another Stagecoach Sunday. Held on Oct. 1 at the historic Palomares House on Stagecoach Lane, it was the event’s 35th anniversary, and cause for a celebration that featured several new highlights this year.
These included wildlife exhibits of animals native to Southern California that allowed guests to not only get up close and personal, but also touch the critters. Among them were a red-tailed hawk, barn owl, opossum, desert tortoise and even a tarantula and rattlesnake.
Another new addition was a Demonstration Station, which introduced guests to some of the many ways California native plants can be enjoyed, from culinary uses to arts and crafts, along with traditional landscaping.
In honor of the occasion, several attendees dressed in their best western wear while Miss Fallbrook and her entire court sold raffle tickets to win a “Cash Cow” and other unique prizes.
The silent auction was set up on the Palomares House patio where guests bid on experiences ranging from a biplane ride over Fallbrook and beyond, to tickets to theme parks and other local attractions. There was also an array of one-of-a-kind art and jewelry, coupons to local businesses and services, and themed baskets filled with everything from wine to workout equipment.
Naturally, guests even had the opportunity to bid for plants, including a native, rare, and endangered Engelmann Oak, which was donated by Roger Boddaert, widely known as the Tree Man of Fallbrook.
Winners of the FLC’s annual “Go Wild” photo contest in various categories are also announced at Stagecoach Sunday, a tradition in recent years. This year’s first place winners are Karen Portner, Insects; Justin Hartsell, Birds; Gizella Nyquist, Plants; Chip Morton, Scenic; Leilani Pedro, Macro; and Karen Portner, Sculpture Garden.
The FLC is especially grateful for the support of the community over the years, said Susan Liebes, chair of the FLC’s board of directors.
“One of the best parts of Stagecoach Sunday is seeing all the families who come to enjoy the festivities and support the FLC, year after year,” Liebes said. “Folks who helped found the FLC are now bringing their grandchildren to the event, passing along their love of nature and teaching them the importance of protecting our open spaces and native habitat.”
Stagecoach Sunday also remains FLC’s major fundraiser, said Karla Standridge, the FLC’s executive director. “Through the generosity of our donors and business partners (corporate sponsors), we are able to raise over $100,000 annually, which goes directly back into our community to fund projects such as the upkeep of Los Jilgueros Preserve, trail maintenance on Monserate Mountain Preserve, and the Save Our Forest Environmental Education Program, to name a few.”
Through special events, such as Stagecoach Sunday, the FLC raises additional funds to cover general operating expenses, such as insurance and utilities, as well as funding for general maintenance and upkeep of the Palomares House, the FLC’s corporate headquarters, Standridge explained.
The FLC, founded in 1988, is a private, non-profit, tax-exempt organization that owns and manages more than 4,000 acres of permanently protected open space, including the 1,200-acre Margarita Peak, 10 other preserves and over 600 acres of conservation easements.
The FLC is an accredited land trust with the Land Trust Alliance, a land conservation organization based in Washington, D.C.
For more information about the FLC, visit http://www.fallbrooklandconservancy.org.
Submitted by the Fallbrook Land Conservancy.