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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Headshot of Maya the dog, Cosmos Blog, Balboa ParkMaya writes: Dear Cosmos, Every time I turn around, even when I’m not chasing my tail, I hear something about Food Truck Friday. Now I hear it’s been extended. Any kind of food sounds great to me. Why should my pack make a point of going to a Food Truck Friday?

Cosmos: Ironically, you could stop chasing your tail looking for a decent meal if you just came out to a Food Truck Friday event and sniffed for yourself. While food certainly gets, and deserves, top-dog billing at an event entitled Food Truck Friday, there is so much more to dig about these festive evenings in the Park, including free entertainment. In fact, speaking of top-dog billing, one of the most dynamic groups ever to hit the Plaza is performing at the August 19 event.

Caribbean Escape food truck in front of House of Hospitality buildingThis Friday, thanks to a generous donation by our local Kiwanis Club, the Latin fusion music ensemble Jarabe Mexicano is the evening’s featured performer. Don’t get me wrong, Food Truck Friday has featured a lot of outstanding talent over the past two months. But it hasn’t presented a musical group as polished, energetic, and crowd-pleasing as this — the very reason the Kiwanis Club stepped up and made it possible!

Based in San Diego, and in-demand on both sides of the border, Jarabe Mexicano is a breed apart when it comes to blending various regional Mexican styles. Their vast repertoire includes traditional Boleros, Huapangos, Sones, and Rancheras as well as more contemporary genres, such as Mexican Cumbia, Doo Wop, Reggae, and Rock.

The ensemble’s members — lead vocalist Gustavo Alcoser, Mario Eguía on requinto, Kevin Lomes on vihuela, Alejandro Tapia on percussion and guitar, and bassist Oskar Beckmann — are artists as well as trained music educators. Like the Kiwanis Club, they have established strong ties to the local community, supporting public school arts programs throughout San Diego.

Bottom line: if you go to one Food Truck Friday this year, make it this one!

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In a recent survey, one of the most requested enhancements to our beloved Nate’s Point Dog Park was a separate area for small dogs. Speaking as a medium dog, I am quite familiar with the trouble small pooches can cause us larger pack members.

View of humans and dogs playing in Nate's Point dog park in Balboa ParkSo this Saturday, August 13, beginning at 10:30am, all interested dog owners or lovers can attend a special community event at Nate’s Point Dog Park to help determine how to best mark territory for large and small dogs at Nate’s Point.

The Balboa Park Conservancy is hosting this Nate’s Point Charrette (which is just a fancy word for a meeting to discuss a project’s design and plans) in order to collect as much community feedbark as possible before presenting design concepts to the City of San Diego and other Balboa Park stakeholders. The impetus for the project is a wad of leftover bones from Beneful’s Dream Dog Park prize awarded earlier this year.

The event on Saturday will also include a Paint with Paws Benefit to generate additional funds for future Nate’s Point enhancements. All canines in attendance can unleash their inner Van Dog and create masterpieces, using non-toxic paints, that will be suitable for framing or selling on eBay.

Light snacks, coffee, and dog treats will also be provided to help get everyone’s creative juices flowing for both the Painting with Paws activity and for drawing up plans to divide the dog park’s turf.

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Thank dog! One of the pet-friendliest cinematic experiences in Balboa Park, if not San Diego, is back! The San Diego Museum of Art’s annual summer outdoor film festival, Film in the Garden, has outgrown the more intimate, albeit culturally stimulating, confines of the museum's sculpture garden. So this year, the weekly film series will be presented on the more spacious lawn in front of the Botanical Building.

Outdoor Film HiPeople seated on Botanical Building lawn for outdoor film screeningstory 101

Back when I was a wee pup, The San Diego Museum of Art began projecting films on the east side of its building, as thousands of filmgoers watched and picnicked on the surrounding lawns. The first film ever shown in this manner was Topkapi (1964) on July 27, 2000.

The concept and attendance for the series, then titled Screen on the Green, quickly grew, and in two short years the annual series was selected by editors of SignOn San Diego as “Best Film Festival in 2002,” just the first of many such honors. (And yes, the San Diego Museum of Art’s outdoor summer film series has technically outlived SignOn San Diego.)

But things got hairy three years later when nature ran its course and caused a tree to grow and block the wall that the films were projected on (the one time I’ve ever cursed a tree!). The series’ survival was in doubt until a museum employee, realizing that Screen on the Green had taken on a life of its own and was quickly becoming a San Diego tradition, had the brilliant idea of acquiring a massive inflatable outdoor screen.

Flash forward to 2016 when once again San Diegans and their entire pack can experience outdoor cinema the way it was meant to be seen in Balboa Park. This year’s Film in the Garden series will present classic films on Monday nights through August 29, beginning at 7:45 p.m. (see the schedule for details). As always, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early to mark your territory. And boozehounds will need to consume all alcoholic beverages by 8 p.m. (as per city park rule).

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Like a Blue Dog Democrat during an election year, we all want our voices to be heard. With so much at stake on a variety of fronts, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to bark our opinions and cast our votes.

Nate's Point Tree Planting eventPerhaps the most important issue facing the local canine population in this year’s election cycle is how to make the best use of funds awarded to Nate’s Point Dog Park by national brand pet-food maker Beneful.

Last year, Nate’s Point Dog Park was singled out by Beneful as one of 12 Dream Dog Park Projects. In January, the Balboa Park Conservancy coordinated the planting of 18 trees in Nate’s Point with the help of the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department and a team of local volunteers and members of Beneful’s staff. In addition to assisting with the tree planting, Beneful provided funds for additional improvements, leaving it up to the city and local packs to decide how to improve their already awesome pooch park.

So what enhancements would you like to see at Nate’s Point? Lighting? More seating? Agility training equipment? Or even more trees!? (I think we all know how I’m voting.)

Please let the Balboa Park Conservancy know what your priorities are by taking a short survey.

And keep an eye on this blog for announcements of additional opportunities to let your bark be heard to further improve Nate’s Point’s pedigree as San Diego’s favorite dog park.

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Two labradors, Cash and GeorgiaCash and Georgia write: Dear Cosmos, Being a large pack, our family spends a lot of bones taking advantage of the many special summertime activities around San Diego. We aren’t even halfway through the season, and Cash is already cashed out. What’s the best way to get the most bang for our bone in Balboa Park?

Cosmos: Being a lone wolf definitely has its advantages when it comes to entertainment and dining in a pricey metropolitan area like San Diego. But traveling in a pack and sharing experiences with loved ones can be even more fun. Thanks to the City of San Diego, the Balboa Park Conservancy, dozens of nonprofit cultural organizations, and generous private donors, there is still plenty of pack-friendly fun to be had in Balboa Park, even on a shoestring budget.

In no particular order, here is my top 15 list of affordable things you should check out this summer in Balboa Park:

  1. Kids on play equipment in Morely Field Balboa ParkGo inside the always-free Botanical Building — the 100-year-old structure is one of the Park’s shadiest spots and offers ample selfie opportunities in front of exotic plants.
  2. Eat your way around the world at an International Cottages Sunday lawn program. Though the food isn’t free, the cultural entertainment, good cheer, and smiles are.
  3. Visit the San Diego Museum of Art on Friday evening. As part of the Park After Dark festivities, one of the Park’s finest museums charges only $5 a head after 5pm.
  4. If you’re free on Tuesdays during the day, so is a rotating selection of Balboa Park museums, but only for those with the right pedigree: the deal is for San Diego County residents only.
  5. See what’s new at the Timken Museum of Art. Free for anyone, anytime (during operating hours), the Timken now features changing displays of rare artworks on loan.
  6. Enjoy howling good tunes at the free Twilight in the Park concerts. Each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening at 6:30pm, a different band hits the Organ Pavilion stage.
  7. Watch a free Film in the Garden. Four-legged best friends are always welcome at this free Monday night film series in August, set this year in front of the Botanical Building.
  8. Discover healthy new uses for trees in the Trees for Health garden. The natural outdoor pharmacy is one of many great reasons to explore the West Mesa. 
  9. The Marston House offers another prime opportunity to sniff around a one-of-a-kind garden on the West Mesa for free.
  10. You won’t believe your ears when top-dog organists from around the world perform on THE world’s largest outdoor pipe organ at the International Summer Organ Festival.
  11. Renew your best-friend bonds by treating your four-legged packmates to one of Balboa Park’s three free dog parks.
  12. You can also safely unleash your two-legged pups on one of many play areas scattered around Balboa Park’s vast 1,200-acre grounds.
  13. Witness art in the making at the Spanish Village Art Center, home to 37 artist studios nestled around a pet-friendly and picturesque courtyard.
  14. Take an informative stroll at a Saturday morning Offshoot Tour. The free 10am tours, led by expert horticulturists, start at the Visitors Center and explore the Park’s historic landscapes.
  15. Sniff around the weekend flower shows presented by the San Diego Botanical Garden Foundation inside the Casa del Prado.
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