If you've lived in Bakersfield long enough, you've likely been to Noriega House, a sprawling, historic venue in east Bakersfield that has served as venue for myriad weddings, showers and parties. For those new to town or maybe less social, there's an upcoming festival that will give you a chance to check the place out and support a good cause.
The venue hasn't held anything like Noriega Palooza before, but for its first large-scale public event on Aug. 18, it's off to a strong start: a 12-hour concert with performances by 12 local bands, plus food trucks, lawn games, a photo booth and more.
"We're all about Bakersfield, we're all about our community," said Jordan Spainhoward, manager at the Noriega House. "We felt like it was the perfect time to bring this together ... and have a really fun day."
Local acts set to perform on the outside stage are: Ryan Barge, Matt Anspach, Black Water Soul, Dinami, American Smogg, Sweat Pants, Jarrett Alarcon, Los DeVitos, DeWalt Corporation, Western Medicine, Johnny Cage and Lorea Laverty.
If some of those names don't sound familiar to even avid local music fans, that's by design. The organizers wanted to showcase upcoming local talent that might still be flying under the radar.
"There's a younger crowd here in town and bands that don't get a lot of recognition," Spainhoward said. "These kids want to make music their career, and what better way than to have the community support them?"
Food trucks will also be there selling shaved ice, tacos, hot dogs, funnel cake, snow cones and more. The venue itself will sell alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.
In a town that goes crazy for VIP laminate lanyards, Noriega Palooza is offering something a little different: a silicone bracelet for all guests. For those who don't mind paying more for a premium experience, the Silver Status ticket includes the bracelet, a commemorative drink koozie, one alcoholic drink and a plate of food.
One thing not guaranteed is a place to sit, so guests are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets if they don't want to stand the whole time or sit on grass.
Noriega Palooza will benefit the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
"We felt like it was a charity here that wasn't getting enough recognition," Spainhoward said. "It does need more attention and needs more funding."
Around 200 people are expected to attend, Spainhoward said, but it can accommodate 600, with tickets available online or at the door.
"People seem to be really excited," she said. "We've got a lot of responses on Facebook. They're excited to (see) it in a different setting, not just at a wedding."
The event will also act as a coming out party of sorts. The Noriega House went up for sale in late 2017, with the new owners taking over the venue at the start of this year.
"The new owners took over in January and thought it was a good opportunity to hold an event and meet us in person and see the changes we made to the property," she said. "We've implemented a few changes for the better that will benefit our clients."
But there's one small catch: the owners are, for now, keeping their identity under wraps. So guests might meet the owners and not even know it.
"They haven't really publicly spoken about it," Spainhoward said of the owners.
While the owners might still be anonymous, Spainhoward did say they are local, born and raised in Bakersfield with strong ties to the community. In public documents, the property's owner is listed as The Noriega House, LLC, with Michelle Palla listed as agent for service of process and managing member.
Whoever the owner is, she, he or they are making changes to the iconic venue, including a new boudoir room (a small room with a clawfoot bathtub), an updated bridal suite and new hardwood floors replacing the carpet. Outside, there are new bistro lights and there will soon be lush Bermuda grass.
One thing that hasn't changed is the old photos of the Noriega family hung on the walls to help remind guests and clients that the Noriega House isn't just a cool building. It's one with history here in Bakersfield, built in 1900.
The venue will continue to be available for private events, but public ones like Noriega Palooza might become a regular occurrence if this first one goes well.
"We are hoping if there's good turnout to have this be an annual thing," Spainhoward said. "The Noriega House has never held anything like this, even with the previous owners. We really want to be more involved in the community."
The venue staff is going a little out of its comfort zone, the manager said, but she knows it will pull it off and offer guests a great time.
"We want it to feel like kind of a getaway," Spainhoward said, where guests "can meet new people and give support to new bands."