Annual ‘Days of Verdugo Festival’ Kick off Thursday

Helen Galvin
El Vaquero Staff Writer

More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the annual Days of Verdugo Festival, which opened Thursday and runs through Sunday at Verdugo Park across the street from GCC.

Started 54 years ago as a harvest celebration for the pioneer Verdugo family, the Glendale Junior Chamber of Commerce (the Jaycees), took it over and reorganized it as “something that would benefit the entire community,” said Jackie Franzen, a Jaycee member and co-chair of the festival. And it does. There are rides and games for families to enjoy.

Corey Oakley, the general manager of Helm & Sons Amusements, who provide the games and rides, echoed Franzen. Oakley said that the days of taking money out of people’s pockets are over. “We want everyone to have quality time and not go home broke.” To prove this, some of his games are not based on skill.

Although this is his first year working with the Glendale Jaycees, Oakley said that his company made sure that the prices for the games and rides are well within residents’ budgets. Water races and the goldfish booths are always popular.

The festival was expanded this year adding more rides in the north end. “We felt that that would attract a larger crowd,” Frazen said.

A larger festival means more power. “We are using six semi-trailers to house the generators for the rides,” Oakley said.

Big strawberries that spin, alligators that make you dizzy, motor cycles that make kids want to put on helmets – they are ready for the eager families to kick off the expected fun filled weekend.
Tune train, an Italian made ride, looks like it is waiting for Daffy Duck to hop on. A portion of the money raised will go into the Jaycee treasury, the rest goes directly into community programs, some Jaycee sponsored.

“But the festival is our biggest working project,” said Max Nava, festival co-chair. “We begin in April with meetings, getting permits with just 25 members. Community members begin to drift in to help. Some of the people we have worked with help in the booths and at the food stands.”
Fun is the main objective of this weekend and no one has forgotten that. In the early morning hours, the rides are being washed and tested, the food supplies are slowly making their way into the booths, game booths are being filled with prizes.

In just a few hours Glendale will be lit up as the ferris wheel turns high over the trees, welcoming people. The festival hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.