As traffic, parking and commerce settle back down into a September norm for the North Coast, business owners, residents and volunteers are looking back on the summer of 2018 and the 70th annual Pinedorado celebration over Labor Day weekend.
“Busy” seems to be the word used most often, despite the seaside route from Cambria to Carmel via Highway 1 having been closed at Mud Creek until July 18.
Nightmare at Bixby
In fact, traffic on the Big Sur Highway had its hazards over the holiday. Reportedly, lots of tourists in Instagram mode stopped their vehicles near (or even on) the Bixby Bridge, the shoulders of the narrow road and even on the roadway itself. Most would hop out and take their selfies and other photos, despite traffic backing up for as much as 5 miles behind them on the roadway or the famous span.
According to social media posts, locals were calling the situation the “Nightmare at Bixby.”
Late Sunday afternoon and early evening, according to longtime area local Kate Novoa (known as BigSur Kate), Monterey County sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Villasenor tried to control the situation and direct traffic, which apparently helped, but didn’t totally clear the jam.
Pinedorado itself “was pretty fabulous, to be honest,” an exhausted but exhilarated Mike Broadhurst, president of the sponsoring Lions Club of Cambria and Pinedorado chairman, opined Tuesday, Sept. 4. “Even on Monday, which typically is a pretty slow day, we sold out of barbecue and had a really good crowd,” he said. “The place was jammed when the band came on at 2 p.m.”
He said he fielded compliments “on everything, the Follies, the parade, the quality of the food at the barbecue.” He added that the “area under the canopies where people eat were jammed full for hours and hours.”
The event had “quite a few new games this year,” thanks to Anna Griffith and Andy Zinn, “and the kids were just having a blast. And that’s what it’s all about,” although lots of time and effort were expended to make sure the adults had fun, too.
Broadhurst said it would be a couple of weeks before the Lions would know what the net financial results are, results that translate into the club’s support for a variety of causes ranging from children’s programs and improving eyesight for the needy to support for area nonprofits.
The Pinedorado chairman said “three of the five nights of the Follies were sellouts, with as many people as we could seat,” which is about 175.
Audience count on the other nights was probably about 125, he said. “By the standards I had set for the Follies, it was wildly successful … this was fabulous. We met and exceeded all expectations.”
He credited the talented cast, crew, musicians and, of course, the writer/director and soul of this year’s Follies, Randy Schwalbe.
Saturday’s parade featured about 50 entries, a number that included counting as a single unit each group of vehicles, rather than giving a separate entry number to each car, as had been the practice in some previous years.
Parade award-winners were: Sweepstakes, Grizzly Youth Academy; parade theme, Driving Misty Daisy; best youth entry, ArtBeat Folklorico; judges’ special recognition, Covell’s Clydesdales; antique auto group, Central Coast Classy Birds; antique auto single, Cambria FireSafe Focus Group; commercial float, Cambria Film Festival; decorated vehicle, California Wine Company; equestrian group, Vaqueros De La Region; marching band, San Luis Obispo High School Band; non-commercial float, Cambria Farmers Market; and special novelty adult, Cambria Neighbors Club.
Sunday’s car show packed the area around the Veterans Memorial Building, and indeed, attendees packed many of the available parking spaces in Cambria’s West and East village areas. Traffic was, to be polite, dense.
Nate Fearonce, the car show’s founder and organizer for a dozen years, said of the show, “Everybody loved it.” There were about 150 vehicles on display.
Fearonce said Tuesday, Sept. 4, that his list of awards wouldn’t be complete until later that week.
However, he did remember the car that caught his eye this year. It was a “1915 Ford hot rod with a polished frame and big Ford engine.” He said it had taken four years and $340,000 to build the car, but the current owner had been able to buy it for about $90,000, which Fearonce called a custom-car bargain.
He has a substantial stable of volunteers who help during the show (as do all the Pinedorado organizers), but his most prized helper is his son Andre Fearonce from Sedona, who (among other duties), announced the awards. The proud dad said his busy son “flew in on Friday and flew out at 5 Sunday night.”
According to a quick spot-survey taken by the Cambria Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday morning, the town seemed to be full over the weekend, which was a good news/bad news situation for sales.
When Cambria is as packed as it was, it can be difficult for prospective shoppers to find a parking space that’s easy to locate and convenient to the store they want to visit. Sometimes, they don’t stop.
Sales results appeared to vary by location and what the business offered for sale.
Some entrepreneurs, like those at A Matter of Taste, Garden Shed, Montello Olive Oil and Cambria Coffee Roasting Company, said they’d done very well over the holiday period. Some others said they had one or two good days, but the other days were flat. And some said the whole weekend was a business bust.