Wild Success: This Year’s Ojai WILD! Bigger and Better than Ever

The Thacher School was not only the perfect venue for the event, but they received the Wilderness Legacy Award for the long history of work to protect places in the Los Padres National Forest like the Sespe Wilderness. Photo by David N. Lee

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 on The Thacher School’s Upper Field was truly epic! With the support of our sponsors, guests, members, volunteers, and community, we at Los Padres ForestWatch welcomed over 300 people to our tenth annual, record-breaking Ojai WILD! fundraiser, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Sespe Wilderness and honoring The Thacher School with the 2017 Wilderness Legacy Award.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Sespe Wilderness, we had very ambitious goals: to engage more members of our community, to raise more funding to protect our public lands, and to have fun doing it! The event raised over $130,000, which is two-thirds more than last year!

Special recognition is due to the generous participation of our sponsors who made this unique event possible. Seasons Catering graciously served a sumptuous buffet and delectable appetizers, and Ventura Rental Party Center provided the elegant tenting to accommodate our auctions and dining. Our event production needs were generously supported by Delicate Productions and DSR, LLC. We are grateful to The Dan Grimm Band for providing the perfect soundtrack for the day, capturing a very special Ojai atmosphere. This year we were excited to have another Condor Cake created by Kirsten Soria, made even more delicious with the accompaniments of Ventura’s McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream (personally scooped by Jimmy Young) and Beacon Coffee Company.

Happy times on The Thacher School’s upper field! Photo by David N. Lee

We are grateful to Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. for providing their refreshing brews, and to Casa Barranca, Ojai Vineyard, Topa Mountain Winery, Palmina Wines, and Solminer Wines for their delicious wines. We appreciated locally crafted treats such as Lori’s Original Lemonade, Sun Oven pastries for powering our volunteers, and Thacher Road cookies and Le Bon Garcon Caramels to add sweetness to the pink moment. We are truly grateful to Carol Gravelle’s stellar graphic designs and Karen Sketch’s beautiful program, and contributing photographers Zack Abbey, Dan McCaslin, James Wapotich and Ron Williams. Event photography coverage was generously provided by Luke Butcher, Luke Williams, Pete Davis, and David Lee.

We are especially grateful to our contributors to our silent auction, which featured unique items from local vendors and businesses, along with several highlights such as a commissioned piece of handcrafted furniture made by S. Thomas Woodworks, Patagonia gear, a fat bike from The MOB Shop, and artwork by California Landscape Painter of the Sespe River Robert Wassell, among others.

The sun sets over Nordhoff Peak in the Los Padres National Forest as the Tenth Annual Ojai WILD! comes to a close. Photo by Luke Williams

Our live auction proved to be a grand success, with Craig and Mary’s Excellent Backpacking Adventure bringing down the house, and the Casa Puesta del Sol in Punta Mita, Mexico, a double winner! Fund-a-Need raised over $60,000, our greatest success ever to protect the Carrizo Plain National Monument and other public lands!

Our deep appreciation goes to our tireless event committee who contributed months of their time and talents to bringing our silent and live auction to life, and  for making this event run smoothly and successfully — Rachel Barkley, Michelle Ellison, Terri and Alex Laine and Ian Nicholson.

And we are truly grateful to our event volunteers who ignite the event with their enthusiasm, energy, hard work and willing contribution of their precious time. Ojai WILD! would not be possible without these wonderful people, and we send a big shout-out to those that joined us on June 4th as well as those that helped us prepare in our offices.

As we continue this good work and continue to build momentum, your support, dedication and encouragement make it all possible. Thank you to all who joined us at Ojai WILD!, and we look forward to see you again next year.
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