Inland Empire Community

The Inland Empire

The Inland Empire, also known as “The IE,” is an area approximately 60 miles from north to south and some 50 miles wide. It spans Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. This is an area that is roughly 2/3rds the size of Connecticut. The area is surrounded by mountain ranges and hills on all sides, with only a few natural passes to Los Angeles and Orange County to the West. San Diego County lies to the South and Palm Springs to the East.

The natural beauty of the mountain rim on 320 degrees of the horizon is punctuated by a vertical elevation of over 10,000 feet in at least four places. The Inland Empire is perhaps the only place in the United States where you are 45 minutes from ski slopes and 45 minutes from the beach; during some times of the year, the weather allows both skiing and ocean swimming on the same day! The Inland Empire offers many outdoor sports such as snowboarding, motorcyclingbiking,racing, and four-wheeling.

The eastern pass to the low desert climbs to 1600 feet, with 10,000 ft.-plus peaks on both sides of Interstate 10. Most notable are Mt. San Jacinto Peak to the south and San Gorgonio and San Bernardino peaks to the north. This and much of the surrounding vista are due to the natural competition between two massive tectonic plates, the Pacific and North American plates. The resulting battle created the highest vertical plate structure in North America, beating even the Rockies as much of the plate itself is buried thousands of feet under the valley floor.

The elevation range makes the topography very interesting and creates climatic ranges from near desert to alpine, with oak trees and conifer forests just a few minutes drive up on the famous Rim of the World highway. The San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and San Jacinto mountain ranges catch the precipitation that is missed in the lower valleys, which has created canyons with steep walls and wide level valleys.

People have been attracted to the natural wonders of the area for two hundred years and continue to enjoy the natural amenities today in every conceivable way. With a rich history, natural wealth, and a robust economy, the Inland Empire is an area full of surprises.

The climate has long been a major reason for human occupation in the San Bernardino Valley. Its early Native American inhabitants followed the seasons up and down the elevations to suit their comfort and food-gathering habits. Later, the climate attracted those with health problems, and eventually the citrus industry made Redlands and Riverside famous worldwide. Today, the economy is one of the largest and fastest-growing in the nation and boasts the 13th-largest metropolitan market.

Major cities include San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ontario, served by the Ontario International Airport. Smaller but substantial cities include Rancho CucamongaMontclair, Pomona, Redlands, Corona, and others

Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show

Emmy Award-winning comedienne Vicki Lawrence will bring “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show” to The Show at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa on Saturday, June 4 at 8 p.m. “My show is not a retrospective,” she explains. “The show is a mixture of stand-up comedy, music and my observations about real life.”                                                                            

San Manuel Expansion Project Moves Forward

Some highlights of the expansion project:

– Resort: The San Manuel Casino resort expansion will include a 17-floor hotel tower with views of the San Bernardino Valley and architectural inspiration from the natural elements of the San Bernardino Mountains including water features that fill the lobby with the serene sounds of a river, natural stone clad walls and wood accents. Of the 432 rooms, 127 are spacious suites with thoughtfully curated amenities providing the perfect setting to unwind.

– Pool Deck: A relaxing hideaway enclosed behind lines of native trees, the pool deck invites guests to unwind in nature while relaxing in poolside loungers or in one of the seven private cabanas.

– Expanded San Manuel Casino gaming space:  With two brand-new floors of expanded gaming space, San Manuel Casino will unveil more than 1,300 new slot machines, bringing the property’s total to 6,500+ slots. Plus, the addition of 40 more table games, of which 39 will include progressive side bets, will make San Manuel Casino home to one of the most progressive table games in the U.S., with a total of 118. 

– The Enclave: For those seeking the ideal combination of luxury and high stakes, the newest high-limit gaming room will feature eight table games, 35 slots, 11 bar top slots, made all the more appealing with its own dedicated space for food and beverage service. For the ultra VIP experience, guests can enjoy an exclusive gaming experience when playing in one of the private gaming salons.

– 24-Hour Serrano Vista Café: Upscale and inviting with décor inspired by the citrus groves of Southern California, the brand new Serrano Vista Café will offer classic American comfort foods with a California twist. The fresh flavors of the café menu come from locally-sourced produce, oysters from Carlsbad Farms and organic grass-fed beef from nearby California ranches.

 – Three new luxury retail stores: HIS: Men’s luxury store with high-end menswear for day, night, and professional looks, plus elevated sportswear. HERS: Women’s luxury, boutique-style store with a curated collection of top-quality products such as jewelry, bags, high-end watches, and luxe home décor. CACHE & CARRY: Luxury tech and travel accessories store with elevated products meant for the jet setter crowd, VIP players or busy professionals on the go. 

 – Upscale fine dining: The newest eatery will be located on the 2nd floor in a location where luxury and glamour meet modern design. 

Culinary Delights for Every Palate Available this Christmas at PechangaPechanga Resort Casino’s restaurants and banquet kitchen feature special Christmas Day menus that bring a smorgasbord of selections to the table. Those special menus can be found at the 1882 Cantina, the AAA Four Diamond Great Oak Steakhouse, Paisano’s Italian, Kelsey’s, Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar, the Pechanga Café and Journey’s End at the Journey at Pechanga golf course, and a sought-after option this year, at your own house with Pechanga’s Holiday to Go meal. For details, visit or call (877) 711-2WIN. For more on the local food scene, pick up a copy of Inland Empire Magazine, on sale at major supermarkets and Barnes & Noble

              Festival of Lights

Nov 26, 2021 - Jan 6, 2022


For 29 years the Festival of Lights has brought us tremendous joy in presenting it to this wonderful Inland Southern California community.  The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa's Annual Festival of Lights accents the holidays in a very special way. 

As always the Festival of Lights will commence the day after Thanksgiving on Friday, November 26, 2021, and The Inn's six-week holiday merriment will be celebrated until Thursday, January 6, 2022.  We welcome you! However due to Covid 19 there will not be a formal switch-on ceremony.

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa's Festival of Lights is one of the nation's largest holiday light collections, voted "Best Public Lights Display" by USA Today.  Every year The Inn's festival gains new energy, grows in popularity, and ushers in an increasing number of visitors to the Riverside area.  Countless individuals make the yearly trek to The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.

This time of year represents so many important things to many people.  You, your family and friends make this event so special for all of us here at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa.  As Keepers of The Inn, we are most humbled by your presence and we are excited that you are now a part of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa's Festival of Lights extravaganza!

-Duane and Kelly Roberts, Owners & Keepers of The Inn

Home Run

How the IE became
the Major League’s
Talent Pipeline

Since the 1900s, around 150 players have come from the Inland Empire  

It seems to have started with John Tortes “Chief” Meyers, a Riverside-born member of the Cahuilla Band of Mission Indians who made his debut with the New York Giants on April 16, 1909. As far as sports historians can tell, he became the first person from the Inland Empire to play in the major leagues. 

A year later Elmer Rieger of Perris and Redlands native Fred Blanding played their first games at baseball’s highest level. Meyers, though, was the most successful of the three. A catcher who was usually behind the plate when Christy Mathewson pitched, Meyers played for nine seasons with the Giants, Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves, appeared in four World Series and retired with a lifetime batting average of .291. 

Rieger pitched in 13 games with an 0-2 record for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1910 and spent 16 seasons in the minor leagues before retiring in 1924.

Blanding, who grew up in Michigan, made his debut with the Cleveland Naps on September 15, 1910, by pitching a six-hit shutout against Walter Johnson and the Washington Nationals and had a 46-46 record when his career ended in 1914. There’s no record of him building a dream house, however. 

Those three were the pioneers. Among their athletic descendants are an Inland Empire group of major leaguers that this season could number two dozen or more and include former Riverside Poly High teammates Austin Barnes of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jake Marisnick of the Houston Astros, whose major league teams went head-to-head in the 2017 World Series. The Astros beat the Dodgers, four games to three, winning their first World Series in franchise history. 

Also on major league rosters are Redlands natives Matt Andriese of the Tampa Bay Rays and Tyler Chatwood of the Chicago Cubs, former UC Riverside pitchers Joe Kelly of the Boston Red Sox and Marc Rzepczynski of the Seattle Mariners.

In between is an honor roll that includes San Bernardino-born Bob Lemon, an infielder-turned-pitcher who won 207 games and a place in the Hall of Fame with the Cleveland Indians; UC Riverside coach Troy Percival, a catcher-turned-pitcher who became one of the best relievers in history with 316 saves in 10 seasons with the California Angels; Ken Hubbs, a Colton High graduate who was the National League Rookie of the Year for the Chicago Cubs in 1962 but died in a private plane crash in January 1964; and Eric Show, a talented right-hander from Riverside’s Ramona High who has the most wins (100) in San Diego Padres history but couldn’t overcome his own demons and died of a drug overdose in 1994.

Riverside’s Bobby Bonds is on that honor roll as well, as one of the first in the major leagues to combine speed (461 stolen bases) and power (332 home runs). So is Johnnie B. “Dusty” Baker, who was a two-time all-star in 19 seasons as a player and has been manager of the year three times in his 22 years as a manager; and Barry Bonds, Bobby’s son, who hit a record 762 home runs. Jay Dahl was a Bloomington High graduate whose only major league appearance came when at 17 he was the starting pitcher in an all-rookie lineup for the Houston Astros against the New York Mets on September 27, 1963. Dahl was playing in the Western Carolinas League when he was fatally injured in an automobile accident on June 20, 1965 in Salisbury, N.C. He was 19 years old.

The master list numbers 150, give or take a couple either way. That doesn’t sound like much, considering how many players have passed through the major leagues in the past 150 years or so. But former UC Riverside coach Jack Smitheran provides some perspective when he says, “You’ve got a better chance of being a brain surgeon than a major league player” because of the finite number of jobs, 750, available each season. 

“It’s remarkable that the Inland area, and Riverside in particular, has produced so many major leaguers,” says Doug Smith, Smitheran’s successor at UCR. 

Anyone looking for specific reasons for the IE’s impressive production has come to the wrong place, though, because not all players fit into the same mold. Some were born and raised in the IE, some were born in the IE and raised elsewhere, and some were born elsewhere and migrated here. Some are tall and strong, some are short and fast, and none are the same. That’s one reason there are no guideposts saying do this or do that and success is assured.

Riverside Poly’s Jake Marisnick says the Inland Empire’s strong youth baseball program helps expose kids to good baseball from such a young age. “I think it helped propel a lot of us to where we’re at,” he says. 

“There’s confidence in winning and competing. I think that transferred over into high school. I really just believed in myself and my ability, that I could compete with whomever, and I think that’s the kind of mindset you have to have to be successful at any level of baseball,” says Riverside’s Austin Barnes. For those aspiring to follow in his footsteps, Barnes says players should be “fully committed to what they want to do.” 

Chris Stewart is an example of that. Stewart, who played at Moreno Valley Canyon Springs High and Riverside Community College, is an 11-year veteran of Major League Baseball  who spent the winter as a free agent after four seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“As a kid playing baseball I think you always dream about [the major leagues], but a dream is all it is at that point. You don’t really understand what it takes to reach the highest level,” says Stewart, who was a 12th round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox in 2001.

“I think as you’re going along you start getting a better glimpse. Playing in the minor leagues you take a step back in that thought process because you realize how many steps there are before you actually reach the major leagues. 

“There are five different levels in the minors, and you usually have to go through them. Some guys skyrocket straight there, but the majority of us have to grind our way through each level, prove you’re good enough at one level to move on to the next level, and gradually work your way up that ladder and hopefully end up in the major leagues,” says Stewart, who lives in Riverside with wife Lindsey and their two children. 

“It’s such a grind and things have to work out in certain ways for that opportunity to present itself. No matter what you do, that opportunity may not be there,” he adds. 

When the door does open, however, magical moments are possible. 

“As a kid, you grow up telling yourself you’re going to play in the World Series, and actually doing it is pretty special,” says Barnes.


Dusty Baker (Riverside), Outfielder, Braves/Dodgers/Giants/A’s, 1968-86

Fred Blanding (Redlands), Pitcher, Cleveland Naps, 1910-14

Barry Bonds (Riverside), Outfielder, Pirates/Giants, 1986-2007

Bobby Bonds (Riverside), Outfielder, Giants/Angels/5 others, 1968-81

Del Crandall (Ontario), Catcher/First Base, Braves/3 others, 1949-66

Ken Hubbs (Riverside/Colton HS), Infielder, Chicago Cubs, 1961-63

Adam Kennedy (Riverside), Infielder-outfielder, Angels/5 others, 1999-2012

Bob Lemon (San Bernardino), Infielder-pitcher, Cleveland Indians, 1941-58

John “Chief” Meyers(Riverside), Catcher, Giants/2 others, 1909- 17

Troy Percival (Moreno Valley HS, UCR), Pitcher, Angels/3 others, 1995-2009 

Elmer Rieger (Perris), Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals, 1910

Eric Show (Riverside), Pitcher, Padres/A’s, 1981-91


Matt Andriese (Redlands), Pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays

Austin Barnes (Riverside), Catcher, Los Angeles Dodgers

Jake Barrett (Upland), Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Tyler Chatwood (Redlands), Pitcher, Chicago Cubs

Matt Davidson (Yucaipa), Infielder, Chicago White Sox

Zach Jemiola (Temecula), Pitcher, Colorado Rockies

Joe Kelly (Corona High School, UC Riverside), Pitcher, Boston Red Sox

Jake Marisnick (Riverside), Outfielder, Houston Astros

Trevor Oaks (Riverside), Pitcher, Kansas City Royals

Steven Okert (Riverside), Pitcher, San Francisco Giants

Adam Plutko (Upland), Pitcher, Cleveland Indians

Addison Reed (Montclair/Los Osos High School), Pitcher, Minnesota Twins

Garrett Richards (Riverside), Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels

Daniel Robertson (Upland), Infielder, Tampa Bay Rays

Marc Rzepczynski (UC Riverside), Pitcher, Seattle Mariners

Chance Sisco (Corona), Catcher, Baltimore Orioles

Dan Straily (Redlands), Pitcher, Miami Marlins

Vince Velasquez (Montclair), Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies

Tyler Wade (Murrieta), Infielder, New York Yankees

Taijuan Walker (Yucaipa High School), Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Steven Wright (Valley View High School, Moreno Valley), Pitcher, Boston Red Sox

Riverside Tamale Festival 9/18/21

The 8th Annual Riverside Tamale Festival returns 9/18/21! This Downtown Riverside event celebrates the community’s Mexican heritage with food, dance and music. There are plenty of tamales to be consumed, a beer garden, kids zone, and a ton of entertainment. Traditional Mexican dancers in colorful dresses sway to the festive rhythm of Mariachi music. The Riverside Tamale Festival is a free event for all. Arrive early to get a close parking spot.

This event is an annual fundraiser for Spanish Town Heritage Foundation 501(c)3 Spanish Town Heritage Foundation dedicated to championing the Hispanic legacy of the Inland Empire’s first settlers by sharing their stories, creating cultural learning opportunities, and leading community efforts to restore and revitalize La Placita de los Trujillos, a place of history, learning, entertainment and the arts.


Susie Hansen Latin Band -Led by Susie Hansen and her outstanding electric violin jams.  The band and its talented musicians play some hot latin jazz and salsa that brings audiences to their feet, clapping their hands and moving their feet.   The Los Angeles based band is internationally renown.   Susie is able to make her violin speak the language of latin jazz with total fluency and her ensemble are all equally talented musicians.  

Los Conqueros –A group of Los Angeles based professionals coordinated by cousin of the Trujillos, David Mora.  David has put together a great group of outstanding congueros.   They have a great sound that will make you feel like you are on a tropical island enjoying the smooth sounds of the congas.   Putting together great rhythmic sounds, the band will have you mesmerized with their sound and talent.

Felipe Orozco and Mariachi Azteka-International artist and entertainer Felipe Orozco will join us again at our 8th installment of the Riverside Tamale Festival.   Felipe is a well known artist, equestrian and  singer.    Felipe is always a hit when he performs at the Riverside Tamale Festival.   His smooth Mariachi and banda sound goes over well with audiences.  One of his recent releases, “Reina”, is a popular ballad which has won much acclaim.   Mariachi Tierra Azteka will be performing with Felipe.  They have a crisp mariachi sound which all will enjoy.

Outlaw Mariachi –L.A.’s premiere rock Mariachi Band!   Known also as Los Charros of Rock de Califas, USA, the groups talent includes former members of Metalachi, Santana and Mariachi Divas among other great mariachi and rock bands based in Los Angeles.   With their talented musicians the “Outlaw Mariachi” fulfills  their destiny to save society by bringing everyone together with humor and Rockin’ tunes.  Their musical ecstasy will penetrate your souls and have you boppin your head, and stompin your feet as you party hearty with them.  Come and enjoy their ultimate rock mariachi experience.

Adelaide Pilar Band –A musician, singer, trumpet player, Adelaide and her band will have you rockin to their high energy musica.   A periodic performer at Knot’s Berry Farm and a consistently featured artist at Disneyland for the last seven years, Adelaide puts polish into her music with her hard work and passion.  With her talent and performances, she strives to be the artist and woman that little girls look up to.   She has assembled a great group of talented musicians and together they put on a fast paced and energetic show for the audiences enjoy