By Joseph L. Campos Jr.
Thousands of Californians swarmed the Buena Park Mall two weekends ago to celebrate the birth of their beloved nation, as the Sugar Plum Festival once again came to the City of Buena Park to usher in the Fourth of July holiday ahead of schedule. The star spangled banner was draped all around the venue as many proud Americans showed off their love of country. There were also many great memorial items at the venue that were there to commemorate the brave men and women from all branches of the Armed Forces in honor of them laying down their lives for the constitutional rights that each one of us shares today.
The eventgoers’ spirit was alive and well, as they went around partying about, sharing laughs and stories, and building new friendships. Everyone had a great time, as there was much to take in. There were posters of classic American heroes like John Wayne from his hit World War II movie, “Sands of Iwo Jima,” and Spiderman and Captain America, posing with the American flag. There were great food choices as well, with hot dogs, hamburgers and pastries. Customers were really thrilled with all of the patriotic hats and clothing that were also available at the Sugar Plum Festival.
A unique entrepreneur by the name of Todd Lockwood debuted his business titled Wood, Wine and Gift Tags, for the first time at the Sugar Plum Festival. This master artist and innovative carpenter makes erasable and reusable gift tags and bags for gifts. The fun thing is that all of the items that he creates and sells are made from many exotic woods.
Todd Lockwood of Wood, Wine and Gift Tags.
“It is a brand new product that no one out there in the world sells,” explains Lockwood. “I am self-taught and have been perfecting my craft for over ten years. Now, I have been debuting it as an official business for two years now.”
Lockwood’s creation and product development took several years where he tested, and researched many different types of wood grains to see which would be most efficient for maintaining a strong durable integrity. Lockwood found the best quality of wood types on the east coast, and saw that they had lights, mediums and darks.
“The different types of grains in the woods make it easier to create either holiday bags or gift tags that are erasable,” explains Lockwood. “This is what makes them erasable, durable and reusable. A basic hand-sanitizer and a cloth can be used to clean them.”
It was actually Lockwood’s sister that inspired him to attend his first Sugar Plum Festival. He was amazed at all of the artistic and crafty people.
“This place is filled with amazing customers and vendors. It is nice to see everyone here in search of something special,” states Lockwood.
Another exciting fact is that Lockwood is a local son of Orange County. He is from Anaheim, so it is only fitting that he shows off his talent to his home crowd.
“The people here in Buena Park have been fantastic here,” exclaims Lockwood. “It is a very lovely city, and it has a lot to offer to everyone here. It has always been a great area of California with many wonderful people.”
The Christmas holiday is when Lockwood sells most of his product. This is because his invention goes extremely well with the all-natural outdoorsy elements of the Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths. The enchanted wooded aura just all fits together with his all-natural gift bags and gift tags.
“You’ll never find anything anywhere else like this that they have to offer at the Sugar Plum Festival,” says Lockwood. “I am definitely coming back next year.”
Another great company that made an appearance at the Sugar Plum Festival was Crown City Toffee, that is headed by Melba and Steve Artea. They are also California entrepreneurs hailing from Corona. They have been making their candies and toffees for several years now, and have a variety of delicious flavors.
“My wife makes it all,” explains Steve. “She has been doing this type of work since 2012. We found out about the Sugar Plum Festival in the same year from a dear friend of ours that always attends these events regularly. Our friend encouraged us to take a chance, and to try to be part of the event ourselves with our toffee. So we came down to check it out for ourselves. We got a tour of the facility and we loved it so much that we started selling here.”
The Arteas’ Crown City Toffee has three top-selling flavors. They are milk chocolate, dark chocolate and peanut drizzle. These delicious treats are hot attractions and get swooped up fast at the Sugar Plum Festival. They offer all types of goodies for weddings, birthdays, holidays and other kinds of gift baskets. The texture of their desserts are very innovative as well.
“The people have been very responsive,” says Steve. “We have managed to grow our clientele here at this event. The customers are genuine and friendly. The other vendors and our customers are all like a giant family. Buena Park is a very beautiful city to hold such an event, and the people themselves are beautiful and friendly.”
The Artea family has been vending at the Sugar Plum Festival for over five years now, and they also plan on coming back next year.
“The Richter family has welcomed us with open arms. They have really helped us grow our business,” says Steve.
John Livingston is a highly renowned musician and musical producer. He was also on hand for the Sugar Plum Festival, and was dropping some of his latest albums. Straight out of Covina, this California artist owns a recording company known as Candle Light Classics. He is an alum of Los Angeles City College and Cal State Long Beach, where he was a Music major at both schools.
Livingston has been dropping his own hits and has been cutting records for over 25 years.
“I record my own music and put together my own creations,” explains Livingston. “I also specialize in recording many different genres of music like classical romantic music, theater score music, opera show tunes, movie themes, inspirational themes, holiday music and relaxation songs.”
Livingston first started learning how to play the piano when he was just six years old, and now has grown up to do mostly solo works and home concerts. It usually takes him about three to six months to cut a new record. This is because he also runs his private music business on the side. Livingston also produces other musical artists’ records and orchestrates music with strings and orchestral instruments.
“I have been attending the Sugar Plum Festival for seven years and I must say that Buena Park is a wonderful city,” states Livingston. “The Sugar Plum Festival has a dedicated following, and other professional home shows would love to draw in big crowds like this but I just can’t. This is what makes it one of a kind. I always get a kind reception from my customers, and I am planning on coming back for all of the yearly four shows that take place every year based on different holiday themes. If you want to experience genuine products, arts and crafts, then you should come down to the Sugar Plum Festival. I always say that it is like Disneyland for adults.”
If anyone would like to purchase some of the items that were featured above, they can see more information at woodwinetags.com, crowncitytoffee.com and candlelightclassics.com.