Tucked away in a canyon that seemed that operate as both ambiance and amplifier, hundreds of Santa Clarita residents poured into Placerita Canyon for the 1st Annual Circle of Hope Hoedown for Hope Saturday.
The event, located in the back end of Placerita Canyon, was designed to support Circle of Hope, a nonprofit that financially and emotionally supports people diagnosed with cancer living within the Santa Clarita Valley.
“The only way we can offer these services to the community is through the generosity of the community and from the donors and supporters of the organization, and that’s what this event is for today,” said Laura Kirchhoff, executive director of Circle of Hope.
During the event, people could listen to live music while sampling some 10 different, and competing, barbecuers or bidding on silent auction items. There was also a pie eating contest with three celebrity judges: State Sen. Scott Wilk, chef Daniel Otto of Old Town Junction and chef Joanna Vallelunga, the director of food services for the Santa Clarita Senior Center.
“Everyone here got here at five in the morning (to volunteer and set up),” said Rebecca Deluca, a Circle of Hope board member. “They are doing this for their community, for Circle of Hope. The bands that are here gave up their time, and we’re going to be making, hopefully, a good amount of money.”
Those 10 barbecuers participating in the competition handed out food to those in attendance, hoping for their vote that, if they earned enough, would garner them a first-place trophy and a cash prize.
And while some people came out to simply enjoy the food and music and others were community members wanting to support a good cause, for others the fundraiser had a more personal meaning.
Kimberly Richardson, a Santa Clarita resident who was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and finished treatment in 2015, was sampling the barbecue alongside her husband during the event. She said it was fun for her and her husband to come out to the event, but she also wanted to support an organization that helped her during one of the most critical times in her life.
“They’ve taught me to be an advocate for myself,” said Richardson. “When I first got diagnosed I didn’t really have any guidance as to where and how to take care of things, what to ask when I was at the doctor’s office. Circle of Hope actually provided me with that guidance.”
The event, according to Richardson, meant a lot to not only her — to see all these people coming out to support people like her four years ago — but it also meant a lot to Circle of Hope.
“It’s a huge support, especially with breast cancer awareness month coming up,” said Richardson. “It’s huge.”