Straight Up Ventura County 2014 Youth Drug and Alcohol Awareness Video Contest

Straight Up Ventura County announces return of youth video contest; seeks videos from young people ages 12-25; focus on drug and alcohol awareness 

Straight Up, the Ventura County-wide youth advocacy project, has opened its most recent video contest for submissions from young people in Ventura County.

Entrants can choose from topics on underage and binge drinking, impaired driving, prescription drug abuse (and the links to heroin use) and the impact to the adolescent brain with marijuana use. 

2011-2012 California Healthy Kids Survey results showed that Ventura County youth continue to abuse prescription drugs and use heroin and marijuana. For example, 20% of 11th graders and 14% of 9th graders have used prescription pain medications to get high. Marijuana use doubled for 5th graders between 2009 and 2012. Heroin continues to be an escalating problem -- several young people in Simi Valley and elsewhere have fatally overdosed in recent years. Often, the problem starts with prescription drug abuse with the user "graduating" to heroin for similar effects. 

Alcohol use and impaired driving also continue to be a local issue. In Ventura County, alcohol use is highest among 18- to 20-year-olds not old enough to legally purchase it, and is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes.

The contest is open to Ventura County young people 12-25 years of age who live or go to school within Ventura County. Short videos (30-90 seconds) are preferred, but longer videos are welcome as well. A grand prize of $500 will be awarded, as well as several runner-up prizes. Entries must be received by Friday, May 16, 2014. Winners will be announced on Friday, May 30.

Downloadable rules and guidelines can be found at Information sessions, training and equipment lending can be made available. Call 805.647.4622 with any questions.

Straight Up Ventura County (a project of Ventura County Behavioral Health Department Alcohol and Drug Programs) works closely with young people to raise awareness and create change around the issues of alcohol and drug abuse. Advocacy training, reality improv workshops and video projects are some of the way youth can get engaged and become empowered.

Winner of the 2013 contest:


Miss California United States Pageant Seeks Delegates for May 8-9 Event in Santa Barbara

Miss California United States Pageant is looking for 2014 Delegates!

Miss California United States Pageant is searching for delegates from around the state of California to represent her city or county in this prestigious state pageant

The Miss California United States Organization is preparing for its annual state pageant to be held on May 8 & 9, 2014 in Santa Barbara. Delegates from all over the state will meet in this beautiful historic area in hopes of winning the coveted crown and representing California in the National Pageant held this July in Washington DC.

The 2014 Miss California United States Pageant is looking for participants in the following categories; Miss Jr. Teen California United States between the ages of 13 and 15, Miss Teen California United States between the ages of 16 and 19, Miss California United States between the ages of 20 and 29, and Ms. California United States between the ages of 25 through 40. The delegates will be judged in four categories: judges' interviews, swimsuit/fitness, evening gown and stage question. Experience is not required.

Keeley Boess, 2013 Miss California United StatesDesigned to raise awareness and money for many local, statewide, and national charities, the Miss California United State Pageant encourages delegates to support their passions through philanthropic endeavors.  Much like a diamond refracts light, each woman sparkles by changing the lives of all those they touch. Christina Meredith, our 2013 Ms California, has worked with foster care programs and charities since becoming a state titleholder. Because of sexual and physical abuse, Christina entered the foster system at ten years of age and like most foster kids, she moved over 91 times. She became homeless after "aging out" of the system at 18. Since winning her title, she has toured the country with speaking engagements, written a book, and has become an inspiration to many of the lives she has touched. Keeley Boess, 2013 Miss California United States, who placed in the Top 10 at the Miss United States Pageant, is a certified air traffic controller and works tirelessly supporting Alex's Lemonade Stand to fight pediatric cancer as well as the Rett Syndrome Foundation at the LA Children's Hospital.

The Miss California United States titleholders will attend several important events during the month of March including the Susan B. Komen Run for breast cancer on March 1st at Dodger Stadium, ShredFest at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard on March 15th, for pediatric cancer, the LA Suitcase Party on March 21 to benefit the Grammy Museum and the dance marathon, Lights Camera Cure!, being held at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood on March 23 to aid pediatric cancer research.

Prizes for the winners include entrance to the Miss United States Pageant in Washington DC, a July photo shoot with our official photographer Anacapa Event Photography as well as Kardashian photographer Nick Saglimbeni, facials by Beven Sangi Skin Fitness, coaching from Sashes & Crowns, Spray Tans from Cali Color Spray Tanning, makeup from Rain Cosmetics,

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Buenaventura Art Association to Exhibit Work of Student Art Winners 1/22-2/17

"Gold Coast Transit" oil pastel by Danny LawlorBuenaventura Art Association will showcase works by the top three winners of last year’s Collegiate Student Art Competition in a Jan. 22-Feb. 17 group exhibition at Harbor Village Gallery in Ventura.

Danny Lawlor of Oxnard College, Linda Kennon of Ventura College, and Rylann Smith of CSU Channel Islands took first through third places, respectively, in the March 13-April 15, 2013, student show juried by longtime local artist and instructor Bob Privitt of Thousand Oaks. It was the seventh annual scholarship competition sponsored by the artists’ cooperative, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Lawlor won $800 and his name inscribed on the BAA Emerging Artist Cup for “Gold Coast Transit,” an oil pastel; Kennon earned $600 for “Bad Little Robot,” a graphite image on burned paper; and Smith got $350 for “Eyeris,” a graphite drawing on paper.

The three young artists will attend a reception in their honor from 5-7 p.m. Jan.
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City of Thousand Oaks Seeks Entries for 2nd Annual Photo Contest

Deadline extended by the City to August 1, 2013 5pm.

Photographers of all ages and skill levels are invited to participate in the City of Thousand Oaks “Faces, Places, & Open Spaces” Photo Contest. The photo contest is returning for a second consecutive year featuring a new Instagram category!

Photos may be submitted in four categories: Environment, People & Places, Mobile, and Instagram snapshots using hashtag #FacesPlacesOpenSpaces. Winning photos will be judged based on creativity, photo quality, and representation of Thousand Oaks and featured on TOTV, in citywide print and electronic marketing materials, and social media channels. First, second, and third place winners in each category will be awarded a certificate by the Mayor at a future City Council meeting.  

There is no cost to enter and contestants may submit up to five photos per entry by Mail or drop-off to: City of Thousand Oaks, Attn: Photo Contest, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd; Email mobile photos to; Upload Instagram photos to the Instagram mobile application using hashtag #FacesPlacesOpenSpaces. A signed entry form and participation agreement is required for eligibility and entries must be received by July 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM (EXTENDED TO AUGUST 1, 2013 AT 5PM).

Visit for contest details and to download entry forms.

See some of the winners of last year's contest at this link.


Santa Monica Mountains 2013 Spirit of the Mountains Photo Contest

Share the wonder of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and enter the Spirit of the Mountains Photo Contest. Let your photographic imagination capture the essence of this hidden jewel. Open to amateur photographers only. Digital or film prints are acceptable. Entries accepted September 1 - September 30, 2013. Submit only photos of the Santa Monica Mountains Zone. For a map of the zone, contest flyer and more, visit

5th Annual Oxnard Tamale Festival Announces Top Tamales in 2012

The 5th Annual Oxnard Tamale Festival took place on a wet Saturday, December 1, 2012. This year's overall, and now two-time winner is BG's Cafe, 428 South A Street, Oxnard. If you're looking for a great tamale, BG's apparently is where it's at! Visit their website at or call 805.487.0700. They are open 7 days a week.

BG's Cafe has been in business for over 40 years. Originally founded by Bill and Gloria Stuart (hmm, their initials are B and G, I wonder if that's a coincidence) in 1971 and was sold to Jose and Veronica Rodriguez in 2004, who have expanded the menu and added catering services.

Top 3 savory and sweet tamales at the event as determined by a panel of hungry judges:

Savory Tamale:

  • First Place; Frias Catering of Oxnard
  • Second Place; El Taco De Mexico of Ventura
  • Third Place; Panaderia La Mexicana Bakery of Oxnard

Sweet Tamale:

  • First Place; BG's Coffee Shop and Deli (aka BG's Cafe) of Downtown Oxnard
  • Second Place; Sugarbeets Restaurant & Bar of Downtown Oxnard
  • Third Place; Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales of Pacoima

This year's tamale tasting judges included: Hon. Steven Hintz, Ventura County Treasurer/Tax Collector, Catherine Hintz, Wife of Hon. Steven Hintz, Hon. Mark Lunn, Ventura County Clerk/Recorder,, Hon. Fred Bysshe, Ventura County Superior Court, Joe Mulrooney, Treasurer of Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs Association, John Ragan, ARC of Ventura County, Chef Gerard Turbush, Chef Paul Tavakoli, Nakita DiGuardi, Toni Valdez, Board Member of Big Brothers Big Sisters Ventura County, Chef Henry Patey of the Oxnard College Culinary Arts Program and Terrel Harrison, Director of Oxnard Police Activities League.

Stay tuned for next year's 6th Annual Oxnard Tamale Festival at or by following their Facebook page at

Proceeds from the Oxnard Tamale Festival supports local non-profits and recreation projects that benefit local youth. Community grants have supplemented programs for at-risk youth, veterans, prevention of homelessness, cancer research, food pantries, recreation centers and mentally disabled individuals. Past recipients have included Oxnard City Corps, Oxnard Police Activities League, Food Share of Ventura County, ARC of Ventura County, Salvation Army, Boy Scouts Troop #228, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Santa Clara Church, American Cancer Society, and Oxnard College Veterans Club.

Straight Up Ventura County "Just Talk About It" 2012 Youth Video Contest

JUST TALK ABOUT IT video contest for Ventura County young people intends to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS
A local youth organization is helping to kick off a new video contest intended to encourage people to "just talk about" HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention. 

Straight Up, a local youth advocacy and prevention organization, invites Ventura County young people, ages 14-25, to submit videos highlighting the importance of discussing HIV/AIDS prevention among family, peers, and the community. Groups or individuals are welcome to enter a short video, and Straight Up offers info sessions, equipment lending and other technical assistance.

Communication, such as dialog between a parent and child, is a critical element for prevention around such issues as HIV/AIDS, says Katherine Kasmir, Straight Up's Program Director. "As funding for HIV infection prevention gets reduced on governmental levels, it becomes increasingly important that dialog and education continues personally and locally," she says. "Lack of information, or misinformation, creates danger for young people, so it's important they're armed and ready to make healthy decisions."

Contest runs through November 29, 2012. Winners will be announced on December 13. 

Downloadable forms can be found at

Contact for more information: (805) 647-4622 or