Highway 243 reopens, music lovers steer toward Idyllwild jazz festival

HWY 243 Reopens

A stretch of Highway 243 reopened Friday after the devastating Silver Fire that broke out south of Banning last week forced road closures and damaged guard rails.
The reopen was music to the ears of drivers and residents, coming just in time for the 20th anniversary of the Jazz in the Pines Festival at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

"We came up to camp and heard about the festival. It's beautiful up here," said Stephanie Voswinkel, of Encino, CA.

At least 3,000 people are expected to attend the 2-day event, which is good news for local businesses. However, Joyce Simanek, an employee at Jo An's Restaurant and Bar, said she worries that even though flames from the recent Mountain and Silver fires have burned out, misperception has not.

"The perception was the fire went into town, but it clearly didn't . We're waiting for people to come see us," said Simanek.

Music lovers and businesses hope with Highway 243 back open and the festival this weekend, life will be brought back into the mountain communities.

"These things are temporary. There are better days ahead," said festival-goer Justin Morris, of San Francisco.

Simanek said, "It's just been hard for everyone. We're hoping everything gets back on track, it's just a matter of when."

Gates open at 10 a.m. on both festival days. It's $65 for the day or $100 for the weekend. As a thank you for their efforts, firefighters can get in free with a valid I.D.

No construction on the 243 will take place throughout the weekend, giving motorists full access to the roadway.

Crews will continue working to repair and replace guard rails and reflective markers starting Monday as part of a $1.2 million Caltrans-approved project. The repairs are expected to last six to eight weeks, with a traffic control pilot car assisting vehicles.

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