New faces and fun at Harbor Fest

The Morro Bay Harbor Festival celebrates its 30th year during the weekend of Oct. 1 and 2 with a new executive director, a new board of directors and staff, and new features such as a showcase pavilion for Morro Bay businesses.

Executive Director Hunter Kilpatrick said two of his major goals are “to continue the 30-year tradition of great family fun and harbor-related education and increase donations back to area nonprofits.

“Each year, at least 30 volunteer groups with approximately 500 volunteers partner to operate the festival,” he said. “Over 29 years, these groups have earned more than $460,000.”

The family-friendly Kid’s Carnival Cove will feature a giant shark slide and inflatable balls you can climb in to walk on water. Shows will include Mark Wilder’s juggling and unicycle show, storytelling with Zette Harbour and Zumba with Sally.

Marine education is a priority for the festival, so the Commercial Fisherman’s Expo will expand. For years, Coldwell Banker has sponsored a massive sand sculpture. Travel Channel’s Rusty Croft will be back this year to design and sculpt. Eight microbreweries are back, and 30 wineries will pour.

Three entertainment stages will feature two full days of music by Soul Sauce, The Crisptones, Bucket Busters, That Evening Sun, Rough House, Bentley Murdock, Too Late for Roses, Boom Bala, Chaparral, Sound House and MGB.

The stage venues will be bigger, with more room for seating and dancing. The Young Dubliners, known for their Celtic rock music, will headline. It’s a great buy at only $10 for a pre-sale weekend pass.

Kilpatrick said he’s found his dream job.

“For decades I have been involved with planning events from concerts to fundraisers. I was one of the founders of the California Festival of Beers,” he said.

“I’ve been a loyal visitor of the Harbor Festival for 22 years before joining as a volunteer team captain four festivals ago and becoming a member on the board of directors that same year. I served on the board as treasurer and vice president before being hired as executive director in November 2010 following (David Owens’) retirement.”

Kilpatrick is proud of his advocacy for the Harbor Festival’s zero waste and green programs. His Eco-Rotary team practiced education and recycling programs recently at the Morro Bay Rotary and Women in Fisheries’ fish fry and the Friends of the Elephant Seals’ Grand Ole Soupabration event, which nearly reached a perfect zero waste goal.

“We hope to reach 80 percent diversion from the landfill this year (at the Harbor Fest),” he said. “We have banned Styrofoam products (and) balloons.”

Helping Kilpatrick is the new board of directors, including President Jim Sanders, Vice President Syd Carr, and members Steve Mathieu, John Lozano, Lori French, Patrick Bietz and Jack Smith. Caron Cook is managing the office.

For information call 772-1155 or visit www.mbhf.com.

Reach Judy Salamacha at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.