IDYLLWILD, Calif. - Our mountain communities and businesses have been struggling since February’s record breaking storm damaged parts of highways 74 and 243.
This weekend, Idyllwild is hosting its first annual "Idyllwild Songwriters Festival" featuring dozens of diverse artists.
“We have trios, duos, solos...we have blues; we had a classical guitar yesterday. It’s different every hour,” said Brett Perkins, organizer of the festival.
The streets of Idylwilld were also packed with people enjoying the weekend art festival, in addition to the local shops and restaurants. “We have hiking and art and music but we really depend on the tourists,” said Mary Morse, a resident of Idyllwild.
Ever since the record-breaking Valentine's Day storm wiped out parts of the 243 and 74, the town has been slow. Locals hoping events like this encourage people to take the 74 from Palm Desert -- the only main artery which remains fully open.
“Particularly right now while this community Idyllwild is suffering so much, we need to give back,” said Brandi Ann Whitaker, a frequent Idyllwild visitor.
Caltrans hosted a meeting on Friday, saying that although the 243 remains closed while they make repairs, they are extending hours for escorting drivers from Hemet to Idyllwild on the 74.
And in the meantime, County officials are launching a campaign to bring tourism back to the Idyllwild area in a number of ways including freeway billboards. “We’ve also worked with hotel and concierge executives from the coachella valley to take them up to Idyllwild so they can see how beautiful it is and share that with their guests,” said Rob Moran, Riverside County Economic Development Agency, Manager.
Residents, musicians and artists in Idyllwild say they hope to see some valley visitors soon: “It’s wonderful for families you can really connect again,” added Whitaker.
“Come up it’s at least 20 degrees cooler up here..we’re just welcoming to visitors," said Morse.
More: I-Team investigations
Find us on Facebook: KESQ News Channel 3
Follow us on Twitter for breaking news updates: @KESQ
We’re on Instagram! @KESQ_News_Channel_3
Noticias en español: Telemundo 15