Circus Vargas - The Big One is Back!

Circus Vargas Release  |  2018-09-21

Preserving an American Tradition Like No Other

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Big One is Back! Circus Vargas Delivers the Ultimate Entertainment Extravaganza for 2018! Debuting their latest, new and amazing animal-free production in Citrus Heights, the much-anticipated tour begins September 20th and runs through October 14th with stops in Roseville and Folsom!

Always fun for the entire family, Circus Vargas’ incredible new production highlights an amazing cast of world renowned performers! Death- Defying Acrobats, Daredevils, Flying Trapeze Artists, Jugglers, Contortionists, Comedians, Clowns, Motorcycles and much, much, more!

Get ready to unleash your imagination and discover a world of pure circus magic and wonderment under the Big Top, where memories are made and cherished for a lifetime!

Join us for a swashbuckling circus spectacular, with this year’s theme “Dreaming of Pirates!” A fantastic voyage of nonstop action and adventure guaranteed to thrill and enchant children of all ages! Prepare to witness the impossible and experience the unforgettable!

Circus Vargas’ Dreaming of Pirates… A true circus treasure!

Arrive 45 minutes early for an entertaining, interactive pre-show celebration, where kids can create their own magic under the big top, learning circus skills such as juggling, balancing and more! Meet and mingle with the entire cast after each performance. Capture the fun by posing for pics or selfies with your favorite cast members, all part of an unforgettable Circus Vargas experience!

Ticket Information: General admission tickets start at $15 for children and $25 for adults.
For Circus Vargas performance dates, times and to purchase tickets, visit, call 877-GOTFUN-1 (877-468-3861) or visit the box office at each location.

Follow Circus Vargas on Facebook and Twitter for updates, discounts and behind the scenes video.

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Cake4Kids Bakes in Sacramento

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-09-20

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. Above, Alyssa Van Hofwegen (left) and Mary Barnes show of a delicious example of one of the cakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.

Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.

“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”

This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.

“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”

In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.

“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization.  We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.

Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.

During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.

Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”

Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.

Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit 

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A Sky High Surprise!

Story by Trina L. Drotar, Photos by Jose Lopez  |  2018-09-20

Two Thousand Students Receive Capital Airshow Tickets

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Two thousand students from thirteen Rancho Cordova schools - Cordova High, Cordova Gardens Elementary, Cordova Meadows Elementary, Cordova Villa Elementary, Mills Middle, Mitchell Middle, Navigator Elementary, Peter J. Shields, Rancho Cordova Elementary, Riverview STEM Academy, White Rock Elementary, and Williamson Elementary – assembled at Mitchell Middle School on Thursday, August 30 for a huge surprise. Fire drill bells sounded and students marched forth from Mitchell classes to a grassy area in front of a stage, joined during the next 30 minutes by busloads of students carrying school identification signs for what they learned was Operation Inspire the Future.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) was the word of the day. Councilman Sander said that it is important for students to understand that “STEM is more than just cool airplanes,” which is why, for the third year, the City of Rancho Cordova and California Capital Airshow have collaborated to offer free airshow tickets to students.

“The airshow they see in their backyard is not the same show as we produce,” said Angela Terry, California Capital Airshow’s director of operations. “STEM is the future.”

“What better investment than the next generation,” said Darcy Brewer, the airshow’s executive director.

And Bob Martinelli, Colonel USAF (Ret.) and Secretary, Board of Directors, said that Aerojet Rocketdyne is “running out of rocket scientists.”

Mayor Budge said that she “always knew the Airshow had a purpose in education.” The schools have incorporated art, music, sports, and science, which include visits to Mather’s vernal pools and Effie Yeaw Nature Center. “The focus on STEM education is a natural evolution.”

Seven thousand tickets worth $175,000 will be distributed to the schools and used as incentives. “They have to go out and earn it,” she said. Each school will devise its own guidelines.

If vocals would have earned tickets, the assembled students would have earned extras for their ability to land the helicopter circling overhead. The helicopter, they were told, wouldn’t land if they weren’t loud enough. Voices increased several decibels until the helicopter landed in the grass behind the stage.

Sacramento Sheriff Department’s K9 unit, with lights flashing and siren screaming, escorted the day’s special guests and bags to the stage.               Cameras and phones filled the air to capture anything and everything. Students were encouraged to use their phones and the event’s Snapchat filter.

Lt. Colonel James Ferrell and Major Ryan Freaney, USAFA Liaison Officers with the United States Air Force, spoke about the importance of school and turning dreams into goals.

Deputy District Attorney Shauna Franklin reminded the students that they already engage with STEM through slime, smartphones, Fortnite, and math. “Find a mentor,” she said, “anyone you can look up to and talk to,” which is what Franklin, who attended a school with 100 students, did. She connected her studies in math and philosophy to her profession.

Rancho Cordova Police Officer Jason Hinckle said to “do well in school and tell the truth all the time.”

Tracy Jacobs, School Resource Officer, drew the most engagement from everyone when she spoke of her route to fulfill her dream. Jacobs, a Rancho Cordova native who wanted to be a police officer, went into nursing. “I was told I wasn’t good enough,” she said. She had been bullied and told that she’d only be an officer in her dreams.

“I’ve been living in my dreams for 18 years,” said Jacobs, who worked full-time in the hospital’s emergency room and attended the police academy full-time for six months. She graduated at the top of the class and is now an instructor at that same academy.

“You are good enough,” said emcee Mayor Budge, who closed the morning’s event.

Student questions included requests for autographs and the all-important “what’s in the bag?”

Thirteen large duffel bags lined the stage. The ceremony for opening those was nearly as grand as the helicopter landing. With adults carrying duffel bags filled with tickets and students donning Operation Inspire the Future backpacks, each school made its way to the helicopter for photo opportunities, with a few stops along the way to pet the German shorthair K9 officer and get a hug from SRO Jacobs.

The remaining six schools in Rancho Cordova will be notified within the next week of their big surprise.

For additional information about the California Capital Airshow, visit

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It’s On to the Next Chapter for Rancho Cordova Pastor

By Shelly Blanchard  |  2018-09-20

Pastor David McFarland has given train rides to everybody from the Spanish-speaking volleyball club that shows up regularly in Ahlstrom Park next to the church, to the Hells Angels in town for a meet-up at Cal Expo, and thousands of others in between. Courtesy photo

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Pastor David McFarland sat perched on his chair at the front of the church, the sleeves on his crisp white shirt rolled up to the elbow.  Silver streaked his hair, testament to the passing of the years. And just as he has for the past 30 years at New Life Center in Rancho Cordova, he shared what was in his heart.

This Sunday was different, however. McFarland choked up occasionally as he spoke to his congregation for the last time.  He is retiring, to rest with wife Marsha, who has led the church’s music ministry at his side, and to “get as close as God and one another as we can.”

McFarland has been marrying, baptizing and saying final goodbyes at New Life Center since arriving in 1988.  In those early days, he and his flock weathered the shutdown of Mather Air Force Base and the immediate loss of 10 families.  He estimates he has delivered 4,680 sermons over the past 30 years.  He has prepared another 2,000 Bible studies.

There have been good times and not so good times, as churches have life cycles, too. And then there is his iconic little train, built beginning with an old riding lawn mower - more about that later.

McFarland and Marsha were childhood sweethearts in the tiny community of Live Oak, marrying young. McFarland says he was supporting himself and his wife as a house framer and got into the ministry at age 22 by accident – and on his talented wife’s skirt tails.  An accomplished pianist, she had been invited to play on multiple occasions at a church in San Francisco. During these visits the congregation grew to love Marsha and her young husband, and to make a long story short, they were both hired – she as a music minister, he as a youth pastor.

During the next decade, while they tended to their flock, McFarland became an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God Church.  With children of their own growing toward their teen years, the couple began looking to get out of the city.  They ended up on Zinfandel Drive in Rancho Cordova, chosen over 63 other applicants who were hoping to make the same move, after he and Marsha peered through the window of the church on a hot Saturday morning and said it “felt like home.”

McFarland claims he got the job by “pestering” for two months.  In December 1988, he and Marsha arrived in Rancho Cordova.  “It’s been a love affair ever since,” he said, eyes shining with tears.

Like many pastors, ministering to the community does not end at the church door.  And in McFarland’s case, that has included regularly donning a train engineer’s hat and climbing into a tiny train; his own “little train that could.”

Roll past New Life Center and you cannot help but notice the colorful mural painted on the front of the church depicting happy children waving from a train.  If you are part of the preschool there you might get a ride on a train that looks a lot like it once a week, built by the loving hands of Pastor McFarland himself.

But how did it come to be?

It goes back to 2008 during the financial meltdown that came to be known as the Great Recession.  During that time many parents could no longer afford to send their kids of the New Life Center Preschool and the stack of bills got higher as the enrollment rolls got shorter.  It looked like the school would have to close.

But McFarland adheres to the notion that God helps those who help themselves. He conjured up the idea that building a little train for kids might just draw enough attention to the preschool that it could be saved.

He has always been mechanically inclined, and it really did not seem so hard to start with a riding lawnmower and transform it into a train.  And as he worried and prayed about the future of his preschool, his little train started to take shape.

There’s an engine.  There’s a blue car, a yellow car, a red car, and a caboose of sorts.  And today, if you are at a community event with children in Rancho Cordova, McFarland is probably at the controls, while giggling kids of all ages take a little train ride.

At Kids Day, the train runs non-stop down to the Live Steamers Railroad, which by the way, McFarland also supports.  At the Fourth of July, you will see the train in the parade, passengers waving flags.  At the Christmas Tree Lighting, decked out in lights, the little train chugs happily away, a cargo of Rancho Cordovans in tow.

What happened to the preschool?  Well, the train, or the good Lord, did the trick and today it continues, along with weekly rides for the kids.

To tell the truth, McFarland said, the preschool was saved mainly because another church preschool closed and the students remaining there transferred over to New Life.

“In closing their preschool, ours was able to survive,” he told us.  “They gave us 17 of their students and that was enough to start the healing process and get our preschool on solid financial ground.  We will always be grateful for that act of kindness.  That is the kind of people we have in Rancho Cordova.”

During his 46 total years as a pastor, McFarland had a television ministry called “The Lighthouse” in San Francisco, provided by a cable television company when he objected to their adult programming.  He wrote short community ministry messages published in The Grapevine Independent for three years when he first arrived in the community.  He and Marsha have lived in Rancho Cordova the entire time in a home near the church which gave David a “78-step commute.”

He has given train rides to everybody from the Spanish-speaking volleyball club that shows up regularly in Ahlstrom Park next to the church, to the Hells Angels in town for a meet-up at Cal Expo, and thousands of others in between.   “I just love it,” he said.  The Cordova Community Council honored him as an Outstanding Volunteer for his loving “train ministry” in 2017.

As is the custom, McFarland and Marsha will “disappear” for a few months while new pastor Lance Feliciano settles in.  After a period, McFarland said he would like to return and drive his train at community celebrations like Kids Day and Christmas, take the New Life Preschoolers for their weekly rides, and perhaps minister to seniors.  As a retirement gig, he will be a “train for hire.”

“I am content, I am a happy guy, as long as I can drive my train,” he quipped.

He wrapped up his final sermon much as he started it, when he noted that while he and Marsha will cease to be New Life’s pastors, “we will always be your friends.  We love you.”

Apologizing for running a little long, he then jabbed, “but what can you do? Fire me?”

McFarland said his successor, like other ministers, has his work cut out for him.  Running a church is more difficult now, with the “busyness and difficulty of life.”  He said he has watched young families struggle to make ends meet, and with time so precious, grapple to find room for church activity. 

In his long career, he said he has seen the “good, the bad and the ugly,” but still feels enormously blessed. 

“It’s been a ball,” he said, gazing out the window at cars passing on Zinfandel Drive.  “I love the people of Rancho Cordova.  It has been a wonderful, wonderful journey these last 30 years.” 

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Capital Airshow Fun

By MPG Staff  |  2018-09-20

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow plans and operates the exciting, family-friendly annual event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans while using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people. Visit for tickets and more information.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The California Capital Airshow is just around the corner as excitement and anticipation continue to build. Mather Airport will play host to the world famous airshow on the weekend of September 21-23 with thousands on hand to witness one spectacular show after another.

Among the must see shows on display will be: the Beale Air Force Base U-2 Dragon Lady & T-38 Talons, who have been keeping a watchful eye on the world from their base not too far north of Mather Airport are America’s aerial super sleuths from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base.

The B-17 Flying Fortress and P-51 Mustangs will make for a tough decision as many will say it was the B-17 Flying Fortress that brought Nazi Germany to its knees, while others say it was the P-51 Mustang that allowed it to get to and from its target. See both and decide for yourself!

USAF F-25 Lighting II Heritage Flight Team will showcase America’s 5th generation air dominance fighter and attack aircraft while demonstrating its awesome capabilities then form up for a historic flight with its namesake, the iconic WWII P-38 Lightning.

The Shockwave Jet Truck custom built race truck is equipped with three huge jet engines producing 21,000 lbs. of thrust which easily propel the vehicle to speeds over 350 mph.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet Demo will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of NORAD. This jet will amaze American audiences with an extremely aggressive demo flown by our friendly allies to the north.

The California Air National Guard F-15 Eagle is still undefeated in air-to-air combat with more than 100 aerial combat victories, the 9G pulling, 58,000 lbs. of thrust pushing, Mach 2.5 capable world-favorite fighter will bring the noise and speed.

USAF Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron: America’s Ambassadors in Blue perform all around the world, displaying the pride, precision and professionalism of American Airmen while flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, knows as the Viper!

Weekend Bundle General Admission Tickets – 3 Days of Airshow Fun
The Weekend Ticket Bundle offers one adult general admission, plus four youth tickets to the magical night show and concert on Friday, September 21, but also one adult general admission, plus four youth tickets to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds-headlined airshows on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.

Saturday and Sunday performances will take place from approximately 11:30AM-4:00PM.

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow 501(c)3 plans and operates the exciting, family-friendly annual event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans while using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people. CCA gives back to the community through scholarships, charitable group donations and exciting educational youth programming throughout the year.

Visit for tickets and more information.

Source: California Capital Airshow

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Anything is Possible

Story by Michael Cella  |  2018-09-20

Sacramento’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels is in its third year, founded and directed by Russ Howell. Photo courtesy Ainsley’s Angels

Ainsley’s Angels Inspires Hope

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Ainsley’s Angels is a national nonprofit organization aimed at servicing the special needs community through their race series, consisting of athlete riders and runners who participate in races across 30 states and over 60 cities.

The inspiration for all this is Ainsley, the daughter of Marine Corps Major Kim and Lori Rossiter. Before turning four, Ainsley was diagnosed with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD), an extremely rare terminal illness that slowly causes global paralysis. Most children diagnosed with INAD pass on before reaching ten years of age, as there is no cure or treatment to help slow down this very progressive and terminal disease. Ainsley passed away in 2016 at the age of 13, but not before she completed over 100 races, including nearly 20 half-marathons.

Sacramento’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels is in its third year, founded and directed by Russ Howell – the organization uses the title “ambassador” rather than chapter president. Howell identifies as a lifelong endurance athlete. He undertook his first 100 mile bike ride at 12, ran track in high school, and stayed in shape in his adult life through a stint in the Army where he was a member of a COLT team deployed to Kosovo. In 2010, Howell and his wife had a son born with serious medical complications and he stopped participating in endurance activities. When his son passed away shortly before his second birthday, Howell got back into running as form of escape and therapy. Running helped him keep centered and deal with grief.

A year later, Howell’s second child was born. As a baby shower gift, his family pitched in and got him a very nice running stroller. From then on, Howell, now an accountant, put in twenty to thirty miles a week with his son. Time passed, and eventually his son grew too big to fit in strollers, but Howell was eager to keep up with his running. One day, Howell came across an article on Ainsley's Angels in Running World, and sent an email to the president of the organization. Sacramento has a vibrant running vibe, with many races in the area, he told her. It would be a great area for the organization to expand and a perfect way for him to take his running to the next level and give something back.

Howell started the new Sacramento chapter from ground zero and began fundraising, recruiting members, reaching out to race directors, and getting the Ainsley’s Angels name out to local hospitals and care centers. Thanks to Howell’s connections within the racing community and the people he met while caring for his first son’s health complications, the group was immediately accepted and progress quickly snowballed. Today there are close to 200 members, ranging from as young as five years old to two adult riders who are in their thirties. The group has also raised enough money to purchase eleven racing chairs for its riders to keep and use with their families.

“Ainsley’s Angels taught me that you don't need to run, or even walk, to be an athlete,” says adult rider Emily Crosgrove. “What's more important is having the will to get out there.”

The organization provides a 100% free service to the disabled community, which is no easy feat – racing chairs can coast nearly $5,000.  There are three levels of chairs which vary depending on the age, size, and disability of the rider. Every chair has three wheels and a fixed front wheel, which provides stability and keeps the chairs from going off course.

“The smiles, the celebration, the joy, that’s what it’s all about,” says Howell. “To see that level of excitement for people that would never be able to experience a race, showing up to the something like the California International marathon (one of Ainsley’s partners) surrounded by 10,000 amazing athletes. It takes them out of their world.”

Sacramento’s Angels are set to run their first ultra-marathon in November, the 200-mile Napa RAGNAR relay that runs from SF up the coast and back down to finish in Napa. Six athletes and two riders will participate.

“There's no better feeling than the wind in my hair as I glide through a sea of fast moving bodies, encouraging stagers to never give up,” Crosgrove added. “If myself and my team could be out there on the road, then anything is possible.”

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                     Whole Lotta Brews Raises Money to Empower Local Children and Families

FOLSOM, CA (MPG) - Whole Lotta Brews is the premier beer tasting event in Folsom.  Whole Lotta Brews guests will enjoy an evening of unlimited craft beer, cider, mead, and spirit tastings from around the region along with gourmet food samplings from local restaurants, caterers and food vendors.  Whole Lotta Brews will also host live entertainment performed by a local band provided and sponsored by Powerhouse Entertainment in Folsom Ca.

This amazing event takes place on Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Folsom Sports Complex located at 66 Clarksville Road in Folsom CA. Tickets are available starting June 9th at

General Admission tickets are $40 online and $50 at the door.

V.I.P. tickets are $60 online and $75 at the door.  The VIP ticket includes one-hour early entrance into the event (5p.m.) and a unique light up tasting glass.

Whole Lotta Brews is a key fundraiser for the vital work of the Folsom Cordova Community Partnership.  This organization provides an array of vital services targeted at reducing the risk of child abuse as well as breaking generational cycles of poverty.

Last year, Whole Lotta Brews raised over $30,000.00 to support the mission of the Folsom Cordova Community Partnership “to enhance the education, health and well-being of the children, youth, and adults of the community.”

Please join us in supporting the Folsom Cordova Community Partnership by purchasing tickets for Whole Lotta Brews and enjoying an evening of craft beer, food, and entertainment.

Event sponsorships are also available.  You can contact Chris Clark at for sponsorship information.

Source: Folsom Cordova Community Partnership

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