San Luis Obispo resident Wendy Eidson has been involved in the local arts for more than a decade — bringing notoriety to San Luis Obispo for its small-town friendliness and welcoming nature.
Eidson, now the artistic director of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, has lived in San Luis Obispo for 25 years.
The festival has lured a long list of Hollywood figures to town in its 20-year history including Morgan Freeman, Jeff Bridges and Peter Fonda.
In fact, Movie Maker magazine included the festival on its list of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.”
“We’re able to do things here that other film festivals can’t do,” Eidson said. “And it’s because we live in a nice, friendly, small town.”
Before joining the festival, Eidson spent three and a half years as the executive director of San Luis Obispo Little Theatre and ran a spicy food mail-order company with her husband, Tim, called Mo Hotta Mo Betta for 12 years.
She has had a long career in the arts, working as an assistant film and television director for 20 years before moving to San Luis Obispo.
San Luis Obispo doesn’t want to be glitzy or be like Hollywood — that is not why people live here, Eidson said.
“We try not to be too cool,” she said.
A host of volunteers runs the festival each year, not only coordinating various venues but making sure that the celebrities making appearances at the events are given top-notch concierge service, including restaurant recommendations and accommodations.
“A lot of times, they become best friends,” Eidson said. “It works because of the sense of pride among the people who live here.”
Filmmakers “are always struck by how friendly people are,” Eidson said. “It’s just the way we are.”
Residents and visitors alike cherish the access to culture, which continues to grow.
“You could stay here and see a lot of world-class entertainment,” Eidson said.
And people don’t have to venture far for other cultural endeavors because of San Luis Obispo’s location halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“We are ideally situated,” Eidson said. “And the weather — who doesn’t love the weather?”