Morro Bay Harbor Festival has musical flair

The 33rd Morro Bay Harbor Festival will mark several momentous occurrences.

“My birthday is Oct.  5th,” said Don Doubledee, the organization’s director and retired architect. “I invite my friends, my community, the world to come celebrate my 65th on Saturday and Sunday.”

An avid music collector and regular singer on Otter Rock’s karaoke nights, Doubledee selected the Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Nelson to play Sunday at 2 p.m. on the Dan Reddell Stage. “They’ll tour nationwide with Van Halen after the festival,” he said.


Music permeates the weekend festival. Saturday’s featured group is a Beatles tribute band selected by Doubledee to celebrate Morro Bay’s 50th year of incorporation. Pre-sale adult tickets are discounted until Wednesday at $10 a day and then $12 at the gate. (www.mbhf.com)

Doubledee took the reins last year, but has celebrated birthdays working the festival since childhood. “My mother (Vivian Doubledee) was the first Chamber of Commerce director and a member of Quota Club,” he said. “I’ve been a volunteer since the first one.”

Doubledee said volunteers used to make tickets, posters and banners by hand instead of printing them. He worked Quota’s booth with his mom and eventually sold beer or tickets as a Rotarian.

When Galen Ricard was director, Mark Allen taught Doubledee to plot and develop the site set-up.  It became his volunteer job for years.


“You’d think I’d know better, but last year I tried some things that didn’t work,” Doubledee said. “ It felt too crowded. I’ve gone back to the historic lay-out and the wine and beer pavilion will be completely open-sided.”

A major change is eliminating the food court, Doubledee said.

“Restaurants within the site will be open and have barbecues outside their restaurants and Morro Bay’s commercial fishermen will still barbecue albacore kabobs. Giovanni’s will bring lots of oysters to their annual Oyster Contest.”

The Kids Cove has been enhanced with a petting zoo, the Cumberland Alpacas, and magic acts. The train is back to move people from one end of the festival site to the other.

“Neil Farrell started the Hawaiian Shirt Contest. This year he’ll announce the festival will honor Bill Yates,” said Doubledee. The former mayor who passed away this year always wore a Hawaiian shirt.

The board of directors is led by John Solu and Jonni Biaggini. Steve Mathieu doubles as secretary and longtime site coordinator and Kristen Ray is treasurer.

“We couldn’t do this without the volunteer groups,” said Doubledee.

The groups run operations during the festival and profits are divided among them, he said.

“The Harbor Festival is approaching $525,000 that it has donated back to participating nonprofit groups over the past 30-plus years,” Doubledee said.

Judy Salamacha's column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at  judysalamacha@gmail.com  or 801-1422.