Posted inRecreation

Annual Harvest Festival Planned for Saturday, October 8

This marvelous change in the weather with its lengthening shadows portends the upcoming Cambria Harvest Festival.  The Harvest Festival is a free annual event which this year is scheduled for Saturday, October 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Historical Museum and Heirloom Gardens on the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street.

     Popular guitarist Bob Benjamin and his Traveling Light Band will be the headliner performing on the back yard stage of the Museum.  Great food, craft beer, and local wines will be available, and the El Pinal Parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West will be preparing their root beer floats.  Resident artist Jim Karjala returns to display and paint his beautiful watercolors.  A feature article on the history of the Harvest Festival can be found in the Local History Section of the cambriaca.

     Many new and returning vendors will offer unique gifts out front, which supplement local items of interest in the Museum Store.  Check out the Halloween décor and Day of the Dead items, scarecrow and harvest selections, sea glass and gemstone jewelry, handcrafted knitted and crocheted gifts, wind chimes, and do not forget the delicious taffy.  There will be fun activities for kids at this family friendly occasion.  The CHS nursery also will be open.

     The corner property at 2251 Center Street at Burton Drive (Lee Street in earlier days) was always the centerpiece and social center of early day Cambria.  The Museum now serves the community in the same way, as the crowning glory for the Historic District which was proposed by the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Commission in partnership with the “small but mighty” Cambria Historical Society in 1994.

The characters on the front porch of the Cambria Historical Museum represent Luisa and Eugenio Bianchini, and Sarah and Samuel Guthrie, will be welcoming everyone to the Harvest Festival.  The Museum now is located in the house in which they once resided.
Posted inServices

“We Make, You Bake” Cheese Enchiladas are NDGW Fundraising Delight

Members of the El Pinal Parlor No. 163 of the Cambria chapter of the Native Daughters of the Golden West (NDGW) are selling tickets for prepaid orders of their popular cheese enchiladas, a package of six for $15.00.

     “We Make, You Bake” preparation of the packets in a toaster oven, regular oven, or microwave is easy and quick–just a few minutes.  Orders are due by Monday, October 10, for pick up on Saturday, October 22 at the Santa Rosa Catholic Church Parish Hall between noon and 3:00 p.m.  Proceeds will benefit the NDGW Scholarship Fund.

     The annual “We Make, You Bake” drive fundraising had been postponed during the pandemic.  Scholarships are granted to graduates of Coast Union High School, Leffingwell High School, Morro Bay High School, and Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School whose relative is a current or past NDGW member.  The program was expanded recently to include women who are in advanced degree education.  Orders and membership information may be called in to President Anne Bennett (805-927-2652), Co-chair Tala Romero (805-610-4179) or Co-chair Consuelo Macedo (805-748-8651).

     This scholarship program is an integral part of the commitment to the local and statewide services for which the NDGW is recognized.  NDGW was established in 1886 exclusively for women who were born in California.  The ladies met in each other’s parlors, hence the naming for local chapters.  The local El Pinal Parlor No.163 was established in 1908 and meets on the second Tuesday of each month.  Having been reliant on Zoom, they plan to resume gathering together with a social event at Robin’s on Tuesday, October 11, and then meet in the at Santa Rosa Parish Hall in November.

Posted inLocal History

History of the Cambria Harvest Festival

With creativity and determination, little ideas can grow into great results.  The Cambrian‘s late columnistJohn Brannon teamed up with Susan McDonald “over a cup of coffee” with his idea to “Save the Bianchini,” an 1870 house at the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street. The dilapidated structure had been languishing there for 30 years since the last of the three Bianchini bachelors had died, with the property entangled in the County Probate Court.  There already had been previous unresolved legal battles for many years before that.

     Interested neighbors, many still currently involved in the Cambria community, had saved the property onto the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s because of its significance typifying architectural changes over the years. Despite that, some local residents were doubtful that the efforts would succeed.  The little Cambria Historical Society (CHS)—which had been established in 1990 by such people of influence as Ken Cooper, Wilfred Lyons, Bruce Black, Sharon Lovejoy, and Kathe Tanner—tackled the project which was spearheaded by McDonald and Brannon.  

     When the house and the three lots on which it stands was placed on the market by the Probate Court around 2000, CHS was ready to commit to a half-million dollar mortgage.  CHS began fundraising efforts, even though other major nonprofits also were saving properties such as the Fiscalini Ranch and Greenspace at the same time. The Cambria community responded with open hearts and open pocketbooks, and all ultimately succeeded.

     Beginning in the early 2000s, a garden party at Robin’s expanded each year to include Heart’s Ease  and then The Squibb House and Bucket of Blood. The events were known as Heritage Day and further expanded to a two-day event. When reconstruction was ongoing, the event was held up Bridge Street on the original Phelan Ranch near the community cemetery, with everything including participants hauled up on wagons as had been done in the early days of Cambria’s celebrations.  Once the Museum was opened in 2008, Bev and Jerry Praver set up a table for pumpkin carving to attract visitors during the quiet fall season.

     Thus was born the Cambria Harvest Festival, whose popularity grew to being the major fundraiser to support the museum operations and scholarships. Over time, the event expanded to a four-day event, complete with a pie tasting contest and display for 30 scarecrows.  Heritage Day became an opportunity to display and demonstrate all things old fashioned. Sponsorship for the Scarecrow Festival passed on to its own nonprofit organization as popularity increased participation to 100, then 300,  and spread beyond historic village to the rest of town and other communities.  “The little organization with the big dreams” continues to serve its communities.