Celebrating Morro Bay’s harbor

For years, some locals reproached the Morro Bay Harbor Festival for promoting wine and music more than the community’s harbor.

Visitors, however, contend the festival is a remarkable family entertainment buy, with an advanced-purchase two-day pass costing $10, with kids under 12 free.

Moms and dads can enjoy more than 30 musical groups on three stages while sipping Central Coast wines and munching Morro Bay fishermen’s albacore kabobs, and children can bounce and rock climb at Kid’s Cove.

For the 28th year, on Saturday and Sunday, the music plays on, including Woodstock’s Canned Heat, secured by coordinator Jim Davis, and the wine will flow with 40 wineries plus food contests, tasting and demos coordinated by Zoey Andres.

But the big news is locals can’t complain anymore.

Festival board member Hunter Kilpatrick said, “When I joined the board I noticed unused areas of the waterfront, mainly the north T-pier, the bay itself, the sand spit and even the sky. ... I wanted to bring to the festival a combination of activities that highlight uses of the marine environment.”

His fellow board members wholeheartedly agreed. Attendees can build a rudimentary ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and test it in a small pool while a real ROV roams the bay transmitting undersea video for viewing.

The Mission College Prep team will display its competition “bot.” Multiple agencies will demonstrate their ocean rescue techniques. Ships 2 Reefs will show its Morro Bay-based eco-tourism project, “The Restless C II.”

Both north and south T-piers have a long list of displays, including the sheriff’s dive team, Maritime Heritage Pavilion, HopeDance Films, Pacific Wildlife Care, Faces of Fishing by Central Coast Women for Fishing, Central Coast Natural History Museum, Marine Mammal Center and Central Coast Salmon.

Watch the Morro Bay Yacht Club sailing races, tour the bay at a reduced rate with Sub-Sea Tours or build a sand castle with Coldwell Banker Liberty Realty.

Office manager Ani Lyne rallied 20 local businesses to sponsor Washington’s tall ship Amazing Grace for Saturday tours.

So does everything benefit the city of Morro Bay? Of course, 20,000 tourists in a weekend is economic stimulus, but the event also benefits nonprofit groups that work the festival — 33 this year, coordinated by Dawn Owens.

Morro Bay Harbor Festival Inc. shares its proceeds. Since 1987, more than $390,000 has been awarded to participating nonprofit groups.

Learn more about the festival at www.mbhf.com. Reach Judy Salamacha at jsalamacha@yahoo.com or 801-1422.