Site of the Lakeside Equestrian Park - photo by Billy Ortiz

Site of the Lakeside Equestrian Park - photo by Billy Ortiz

East county equestrian foundation history

 In May 2012, San Diego County sent out a notice of a possible soccer park going in at the corner of Moreno Ave and Willow Road. The local residents turned out in large numbers to weigh in on the idea. Many of the equestrians didn’t feel the rural setting of the valley was appropriate for a soccer park. After much back and forth County Supervisor Dianne Jacob suggested an equestrian center instead. This suggestion was met with a lot of enthusiasm and the soccer park it was decided, would go in a different location in the future. 

A month later Supervisor Jacob suggested a 501(c)(3) be set up and a board of directors be established to move the equestrian project along. In Oct. 2012 Michelle deVries offered to chair the group and was joined by Darla Frye, Cindy Fender, Karen Ensall and Debra Eggert. A concept plan was designed by Tim Boyd. The late George Barnard and Julie Murphy were invited by Karen Ensall to help with the East County Equestrian Foundation to move the project along. Julie drafted Deb Schott who loaned the organization the money to pay to the get the 501(c)(3) set up. Kellie Dunn and Dave Ludwick were also a part of the early ECEF team.

Victor Bermudes, a retired architect, was asked to join early on to help make changes to the plan and assist in forming the 501(c)(3).  A target amount of $150,000 was set as a fundraising goal for ECEF to cover five years of operations, maintenance, promotions and improvements for the park as required by the county.  Julie Murphy set up a Facebook page to help get the word out about the foundation and the park. Cindy Fender’s husband created the first website. The original board members were very dedicated and helped lay much of the groundwork for ECEF. Sioux Munyon joined the board in 2014. In 2015, Julie set up a GoFundMe campaign to also support ECEF’s fundraising efforts. The mission statement of the organization was created:  The East County Equestrian Foundation, a non-profit corporation, advocates the preservation of equestrian and agricultural activities in San Diego’s east county.  To realize our vision, we are facilitating, through fund raising and promotion, the construction, completion and management of a premier equestrian event facility in Lakeside, California.

Numerous community members and equestrian groups have been supportive of ECEF since the beginning. Copy Corral, East County Feed, Herring Ranch, Lakeside Chamber of Commerce, Lakeside Frontier Riders, Lakeside/Santee Rotary, National Barrel Horse Association District 20, San Diego Arabian Horse Association, Tumbleweed Riding Club and Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian all donated big checks and some have donated a few times.

A Friends Membership for ECEF was formed in 2017 with a goal of building a strong membership to create management committees and to create a base from which to draw from for the ECEF Board of Directors and various other opportunities. The membership fee to join “Friends of the East County Equestrian Foundation” was set at $10.00 per person per year. 

George’s wife, Marty Barnard, was asked to get on the board in April 2017 and is the current president of ECEF. The vision of the Lakeside Equestrian Park was something Marty feels very strongly about and she invited more members to build a strong team to follow through on the ECEF’s goals. Current executive board members are vice president Don Bright, secretary Diana McGowen, treasurer Cheryl Erpelding. The remainder of the board is a diverse group of horse enthusiasts including Julie Murphy, Debra Eggert, Darla Frye, Elizabeth Johnson, Sandy Angione, Traci Smith and Evonne Spinteo. The Friends of ECEF membership has grown to over 240 members with donations over $69,000 as of Oct. 2018.