Facilitating the fan-delighting collision of comic-book universes and intergalactic heroes, Wizard World organizes Comic Cons and pop-culture conventions across the continent. At each event, stars from the silver screen set down roots in booths across the convention floor, wielding markers for autographs and their photo-op-ready smiles. Past guests have run the gamut from William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and the cast of AMC?s The Walking Dead. Away from the crowds, stars also participate in talks and Q&A panels as part of the event?s programming. Along with beloved actors, Wizard World?s conventions grant guests a chance to interact with writers and artists as well as partake in activities such as gaming tournaments and costume contests.
Thumping blues, jangly rock music, and the smells of barbecue pits slow-cooking pork ribs and brisket fill the Victorville Fairgrounds during the annual High Desert Music Festival & BBQ Showdown. The two-day event challenges pit-masters from around the Southwest to square off in a barbecue competition?and conquer the reigning champion?by sharing their sauce-slathered dishes with visitors, while judges from the Kansas City Barbecue Society look on. Meanwhile, local and Grammy-nominated international musicians perform on an outdoor stage, and a car show displays vehicles ranging from classic cars to custom modern rides.
On October 26, Halloween monsters rise from the undead to invade Luna Supper Club. Not for blood or revenge, but instead for craft beer. At the BierBuzz Masquerade Beer Fest, costumed guests flood the two-story nightclub, letting unlimited sips of beer filter through their hockey masks. 15 local breweries tap kegs for the masses, including Left Coast Brewing, Ironfire Brewing Company, and Ritual Brewing Co. Live bands and DJs set the proceedings to a rhythmic thump, including a reggae set by MightyMellowMassive. Guests enjoy the club's modern stylings as they frolic, including lounge rooms awash in circling light beams and a long outdoor patio.
Located in a repurposed Santa Fe railroad station, Pacific Wine Merchants pours a rotating selection of 24 wines and purveys a stock of delicious cigars. Grape enthusiasts looking for a wine tasting ($16–$22) can sample the bar's current lineup by the ounce. Servings are dispensed via an automated Enomatic system, which is designed to prevent waste, preserve freshness, and fill corkscrews with feelings of inadequacy. Recent offerings from the tasting rotation have included a Rombauer merlot, a cabernet sauvignon from Jam Cellars, and a Rusack syrah. While sipping reds and whites, patrons can nibble cheeses, cold cuts, and garlic bread, which are included with the tasting price. Microbrews ($4.50) from local beer factories are also on tap, standing by to ensure that thirst is extinguished faster than a fire at Sea World.
At the Huck Finn Jubilee, a slew of high-profile bluegrass performers?Grammy-winners and innovators, solo performers and Polyphonic-Spree-sized bands alike?hit the stage for a packed weekend of live music. Visitors don't just listen and snack on the festival food, though. They participate, showing their music chops in instructional jam sessions, and their fancy footwork at line dancing parties.
The verdant grounds of Cucamonga-Guasti Regional Park. where the festival is held, offer plenty of outdoorsy entertainment, too. Visitors camp out on its grounds, and fish in its two lakes, for fun or during the legendary Blind Bogie Fishin' Derby. Other contests appeal to land-lubbers, too, such as a Tom Sawyer fence-painting contest and a "Climb the Greased Pole" challenge, whose winner is typically born with magnetic hands.
The California Beer Festival continues its tradition of celebrating craft beers by bringing the festivities to San Dimas. For a September afternoon, the lakeside expanses of Frank G. Bonelli Park host breweries and their enthusiasts. Attendees will have the opportunity to wander the grounds with their souvenir tasting cups and sample 3-ounce pours of more than 60 craft beers on tap, including perennial favorites from Golden State breweries such as Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a craft-beer pioneer that spoke to the Groupon Guide.
Participating eateries are also on hand to quell hunger pangs with hearty burgers, tacos, pitas, and Indian cuisine. Guests give their tongues a break from tasting, clearing their palettes etch-a-sketch-style as they bob their heads to the music broadcast by the festival's lineup of live bands. Proceeds from the festival support the Gen Giammanco Foundation, which provides student athletes with financial assistance.