San Luis Obispo County supervisors Tuesday issued a license that allows the Sunset Savor the Central Coast festival to have as many as 4,000 people a day attend its two-day main event Sept. 27 and 28 at the Santa Margarita Ranch.
The festival has gotten so popular that this year’s attendance at the main event is expected to exceed 3,000 people a day, the threshold for needing a temporary outdoor entertainment license from the county.
Supervisors were supportive of the event, which sold 7,287 tickets last year to all of its events over a five-day period. “It has been a well-run event,” said Supervisor Debbie Arnold, whose district includes Santa Margarita.
The event’s sponsor, Visit San Luis Obispo County, a tourism bureau, must meet a list of conditions including a variety of precautions to mitigate traffic and ensure the health and safety of the guests.
Susan Harvey of the group North County Watch said she is worried about the fire danger as a result of extremely dry conditions. County Cal Fire Chief Rob Lewin said a fire engine and two ambulances will be assigned to the event, which he said would be sufficient to deal with whatever fire suppression and emergency medical needs might arise.
Event sponsors made a last-minute request to have supervisors grant them a five-year permit. They said this would make planning the event easier in coming years.
However, at the advice of County Counsel Rita Neal, supervisors only issued the permit for one year. The sponsors had not made the request for a five-year permit early enough for it to be properly noticed to the public, Neal said.
Sunset Savor the Central Coast is typically held the last weekend of September. The festival is a cooperative venture between Visit San Luis Obispo County and Sunset magazine to highlight the culinary and tourist attractions of the area.
About a third of the attendees are tourists, and the rest are San Luis Obispo County residents, said Stacie Jacob, Visit San Luis Obispo County executive director. Its key demographic is people 45 to 64 years old.
Last year’s event had an estimated overall economic impact of $4.54 million.