2020 Looks To Be A ‘Lost Summer’

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

June 5, 2020

An aerial photo of the 2018 Harbor Festival taken from the top of the fire department’s ladder truck shows a bustling waterfront, a sight that’s not likely to be seen during the coronavirus summer.

Coronavirus… COVID-19… Despite the Estero Bay Area so far having only a handful of virus cases, the worldwide pandemic that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people, will pretty much kill this summer, too.

That’s the logical conclusion to be drawn, as popular special events are canceled almost daily, falling like Domino’s one after another, leaving what’s looking a lot like a “Lost Summer.”
Special events — from the Sea Glass and Kite Festivals, to the spectacular Cayucos Independence Day Parade — are all gone. None of it will happen this year, and it’s unclear when such gatherings will resume.
A partial list of lost events includes: Morro Bay Yard Sale Weekend (originally postponed from April to May and now canceled); Cayucos Sea Glass Festival; Morro Bay Art Association Plein Art Festival; Morro Bay Kite Festival; MB Car Show (both Cruise Night and the Car Show proper); Cayucos Rotary Masked Ball; Community Easter Egg Hunts in Los Osos and Cayucos; weekly Bingo with MB Active Adults (the Senior Center’s closed too); Cuesta College, Cal Poly, and Morro Bay High School Graduations; Cal Poly Open House and Rodeo; Blessing of the Fleet; Los Osos Memorial Day Ceremony; Cayucos Lost at Sea Ceremony; Cayucos Independence Day Parade and Fireworks Show; Cambria’s 4th of July Picnic and Fireworks; Morro Bay’s July 4th Family Picnic; Morro Bay Art Association’s Memorial Day Art in the Park (July 4th and Labor Day are pending); Los Osos’ weekly Beer at the Pier shows and the Sea Pines Saturday Concerts on the Green; the Rock to Pier Run; Festival Mozaic; and Morro Bay Triathlon.

Even radio station 97.3/107.9 FM The Rock’s 7th Annual Fundraiser Concert was postponed until sometime in the fall.

Of note: this list doesn’t include the many classes and programs put on by local churches and public libraries, or the many school events like concerts, sports and plays, that while not integral to tourism, are part of what makes living here great.

The Art Association’s Plein Art Festival was to have been the inaugural event and Art in the Park is practically an institution.

Patricia Newton, President of the Art Association said, “Art in the Park, is canceled for May 2020. We’re still hopeful for July and September. While we are deeply saddened by this decision, we are adapting to changes consistent with policies mandated by state and local officials.”

Proceeds from the County’s largest outdoor art sale (happening three times a year), support scholarships for art students — high school, community college and university — as well as the Association’s Art Gallery on Main Street and it’s many educational programs.

“We’re going through a challenging time right now,” Newton said, “however, we continue to look toward the future. With the support and generosity of volunteers, donors and businesses like Art Central, Morro Bay Art Association is proud to award $10,500 in scholarships this year, to help deserving students continue their educational endeavors.”

he Cayucos Lost at Sea Memorial annually draws 250-300 people for the solemn ceremony dedicated to the memory of all persons lost at sea.

“The Lost at Sea committee,” committee member Trudy O’Brien said in an email to Estero Bay News, “has decided with very heavy hearts to cancel the Lost at Sea ceremony this year.”
It had been slated for Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, at the Cayucos Pier Plaza. But while the plaza is open, the pier has been closed for about 2 months after the County barricaded the parking spaces along Front Street and the parking lot at the Vet’s Hall.

Keeping social distancing at this well-attended ceremony would frankly be impossible. “So many people who attend Lost at Sea are in the older age range, too,” O’Brien added, “so it’s probably for the best.”

Her attitude is still positive. “Yes, it is very sad,” she said, “but just think about how special it is going to be when we have these events again. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”

Newton has a similar outlook. “Covid-19 has taken many by surprise,” Newton said. “While we’ve sheltered in place and our economy sits in some form of medically induced coma, we’re reminded how essential many workers are, not only to the economy, but to our community. A heartfelt appreciation to those who work on the frontline!”

In Los Osos, all the wonderful free concerts and dance parties — from Baywood’s Beer at the Pier to Sea Pines’ barefoot dance parties — have been canceled.

St. Benedict’s Hollister Institute’s classes and study groups now meet via Zoom, the Internet video service. See: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81626646241 or call (669) 900-6833 meeting ID 816 2664 6241. Call St. Bene’s at (805) 528-0654 if you need help navigating Zoom.

In Cambria, the 4th of July is canceled but Pinedorado Days is still on the schedule for Sept. 5-7. The Annual Pinedorado Parade is right now scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5. The Pinedorado Fairgrounds will have live music, great food, kiddie rides and a car show on Sunday. Unless it gets canceled too.

And as of now, the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, which runs throughout the month of October, is also still on, otherwise the Cambria calendar of events for May-August is blank.

Paul Irving, publisher of Big, Big SLO a music and special event promoter in SLO County as well as a contributor to Estero Bay News, saw his business drop off a cliff when literally all the music venues in SLO County and beyond canceled all their shows “It’s a big old punch in the gut for everybody,” Irving said.

A professional trumpet player himself, Irving organizes the weekly Beer at the Pier free music shows at the Blue Heron on 2nd Street in Baywood Park. May was to be the start of the outdoor shows.

He’s had to adapt. “I’ve built my whole life around live music and special events,” said Irving, a trumpeter with Zongo All Stars and other groups. “I asked myself ‘What do I do?'”

He decided to move online and is organizing regular virtual concerts including a relaunch of Beer at the Pier last Monday, organizing and assisting musicians with the quality of what they’ve already been putting out on their own. “I wanted to provide an actual, focused event with high quality audio and visual.”

He’s working with SLO Brew and has a stage in SLO where bands can play for the online streaming events — sans a crowd. See: www.bigbigslo.com/houseparty to enjoy the music. And see: www.bigbigslo.com/events when live music is resurrected.

At Los Osos’ Sea Pines Golf Resort, the popular Barefoot Concerts on the Green have been put on hold “Until further guidance is given from the State,” reads a notice on the resort’s website.

Owner Gary Setting said they “are taking it week by week. We’re at the mercy of the local public health officials, the Governor, whenever they decide” to allow reopening.

He said they’ve thought about how they might hold the Saturday outdoor concerts, have been speaking with the bands, and could possibly limit the crowd size by requiring reservations in advance to attend, even though the shows are free admission. Setting added, “Obviously there’s a pent up demand,” for live music and fun events like the Concerts on the Green.

They’ve made adjustments in all areas of their business — motel, golf course and clubhouse/restaurant. The clubhouse is open for takeout, Setting said, the golf course is open for play, and the motel has been available mainly for local folks who need emergency accommodations.

“We’re grateful to all the locals who’ve kept us open,” Setting said.
Festival Mozaic, the annual summer celebration of classical music that holds concerts all across SLO County, announced that its 50th Anniversary season, originally scheduled for July 18-Aug. 1, has been moved to July 17-31, 2021.

The Avila Beach Blues Festival, originally scheduled for this month has been postponed too. “The 27th Annual Avila Beach Blues Festival, featuring George Thorogood & the Destroyers, the band WAR and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, originally scheduled for Sunday, May 24, 2020 has been rescheduled to Sunday, May 30, 2021.

“George Thorogood & the Destroyers and the band WAR have confirmed the new date. Opening act TBA.”
Those who have tickets for this year’s show can use them for the show next year. Email to: info@otterproductionsinc.com for information on that.

Big annual events that are still to be decided on include the biggest of them all — the Mid State Fair. “As of today the California Mid State Fair will take place, as scheduled July 22 to Aug. 2,” reads an announcement on the Fair’s website.

Exactly what that would look like remains to be seen, as social distancing could prove difficult for the over 100,000 people who normally attend the fair over its 2-week run.

They’ve announced several headliner acts — Carrie Underwood, Pentatonix, Eric Church, Dan + Shay, and Ann Wilson of Heart, but the majority of dates remain open.

Free shows announced so far are Blue Oyster Cult, A Thousand Horses, Uncle Kracker, LeAnn Rimes and Banda Machos.

There’s still a glimmer of hope for Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce’s Avocado-Margarita Festival, slated for Saturday, Sept. 12 on the Embarcadero. “We are closely monitoring State and County mandates on events in our region with regard to COVID-19,” Chamber CEO Erica Crawford said, “and will move forward with next steps as information and recommendations become available to us.”

So while the coronavirus shutdown of the economy has hit most businesses hard, and devastated government budgets, it’s also eaten away at the myriad of special events, and music festivals that are an integral part of life on the Central Coast. This will indeed be a lost summer.

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