The name of the Woman's Club of Arroyo Grande was misspelled in the original version of this story.
More than 75 years ago, a group of women living in the Arroyo Grande area started meeting to share books, recipes and gardening tips, and to talk about their families and the news of the day.
Though the group started small, it didn’t stay that way for long. The first official meeting of the Woman’s Club of Arroyo Grande in 1937 attracted more than 150 women, according to the club’s website. About 80 local women joined the club.
That same year, club members decided they wanted to give back to the community with an event that would highlight Arroyo Grande’s ties to local farmers. That fall, the first Arroyo Grande Valley Harvest Festival was held in an elementary school building.
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The Woman’s Club continued to organize the event for nearly 10 years, and then handed it off to other community groups.
This year, the festival — and the Woman’s Club — are both celebrating their 75th anniversaries in Arroyo Grande. As a tribute to the founders, the Harvest Festival board of directors selected the club as grand marshal of this year’s event.
The Harvest Festival will be held Friday and Saturday in The Village. Woman’s Club members will participate in Saturday’s parade, either walking or riding in a trolley car.
“It’s quite the honor,” said Mary Carson, club president. “We’re so excited about it. We love being a part of this community.”
Today, the Woman’s Club has more than 90 members who live in San Luis Obispo and throughout the Five Cities area. In 1937, annual dues were $3; today, they’re $30.
The club holds three fundraisers each year and donates the proceeds to numerous charities and scholarships for high school and college students. Its next event is an “artisan faire” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the clubhouse, 211 Vernon St.
The Harvest Festival starts at 4 p.m., Friday with the Arroyo Grande Rotary Club’s 47th annual fish fry and a chili cook-off. The parade starts Saturday at 10 a.m., followed by more entertainment, including weiner dog races, a diaper derby, spelling bee, food and game booths, and numerous contests, including a whisker-ino contest and a baking contest.
Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.