T uesday, Sept. 4, as members of the Cambria Lions Club were tearing down, cleaning up and putting away the trappings of the 2012 Pinedorado, many were saying this year’s celebration had been one of the best in years.
“Pinedorado roared through town pretty good” this year, said Greg Wilson, who’s worked at 15 of the Labor Day festivals but who found himself at the helm for the first time this year.
He said some concessions, such as the glass toss, did 20 percent better than last year, and the new baseball- milk bottle toss was a big hit.
Then there was the striker and its big gong. Members of the 3rd
Marine Aircraft Wing Band converged there after their free concert Saturday afternoon, and wound up in a competition to see which band member could earn the most “I rang the bell three times” badges. “They were lining them up like they were generals,” said Wilson, who manned the striker late that afternoon. “They were hitting that thing so hard, one handed, with the small hammer” and ringing the bell nearly every time. “It was an unbelievable display of power by these guys,” but eventually, Wilson had to close the striker to preser ve the equipment, which was taking a beating.
The Saturday parade with the Marine Corps and other bands, the Corps’ free concert, Sunday’s car show and Monday’s “Locals Day,” especially Jill Knight and her entire band, all drew exceptional crowds, Wilson said. Bingo games had a great turnout. That said, the barbecue didn’t draw as many diners as usual. That may have been due to the price increase to $12 (the first since 2003, due to the cost of beef), but burger and hot dog sales were off the charts.
The contrast between the coastal cool and hot weather in the Central Valley helped nudge crowds toward the shore. Some entrepreneurs in downtown Cambria also had a good Labor Day weekend. “I think all the motels were full,” said Ken Cooper, owner of the Bluebird Motel and president of the Central Coast Hotel-Motel Association.
The influx wasn’t limited to the holiday weekend. The annual circle of motor homes began assembling west of the dog park early in the week. And by the Friday afternoon farmers market alongside the Veterans Memorial Building, eastbound traffic on Main Street had backed up almost to Highway 1.
The Marine Band won the parade sweepstakes award. First Baptist Church of Cambria’s “old-time religion” soda fountain float won for best representing the parade theme of “Good Ole Days.” The Grizzly Youth Academy’s marching units won the prize for best youth entry, and Sweet Cambria Newcomers’ Club received the judges’ special recognition for its “Sweet Caroline” synchronized dance team, all in black with colorful bowler hats, parasols and spangled sashes.
There were some unscripted moments: Near the East Village announcers’ stand, Community Presbyterian Church’s Pastor Tracy Vining slid out of “circuit rider” character, off his horse Jackson and into public service mode as he did equine cleanup duty right there on Main Street.
Car show Chairman Nate Fearonce estimated that about 5,000 people attended the event and 146 vehicles were entered.
More than 20 classic vehicles received prizes, including Jim Collins of Los Osos, whose 1947 Pontiac Woodie snagged “Best of Show” honors. Among Cambria winners were Douglas Burbyte, Barbara and Bob Buchanan, Jim and Karen Kavanagh, Tom Haycock and Matt and Sarah Russo.
Take a Marine to dinner
The Friday night dinner and short concert by the party band was a roaring success, with 137 ticketholders buying their own meal and another for a Marine. The band surprised part-time Cambria resident Charlene Mayer with a “happy birthday” rendition (with her up on stage). Former Cambria resident Barbara Banner, a Marine veteran from World War II, shared the traditional “oldest- youngest Marine” slice of cake with 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Moses Lin, a guitar-playing band member who’s been in the Corps for about a year.
Cambrians did well in the raffle drawings, too, taking home the three top prizes and many of 250 others. According to organizer Donna Argonti: Bebe McInerney won the grand prize, a Sally Seago painting; Barbara Mann won the 31-bottle “wine stash”; and Jerry and Daphne Lee won the $500 gift certificate.
“It was a good weekend,” said Cooper, but it’s “from now on that counts,” he said of the “shoulder seasons” for tourist business. Based on advance reser vations and an expected influx of visitors for the month-long Scarecrow Festival, business “looks like it’s holding pretty good.”