Every year since the Depression, the town of Paso Robles relives its heritage.
The northern half of San Luis Obispo County (North County), California, is represented in this example of what I like to call real or pure Americana. Paso Robles itself is about 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean with the Coastal Range between the city and beach. It’s roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Mentioned this briefly last year, but “Pioneer Day” started at the beginning of the Depression when obviously most were struggling. The community geared up the day to celebrate what people did have back then and that was friendship. So they tied in the commemoration of the cities heritage with a community day and incorporating the theme “Leave Your Pocketbook at Home”. The town got together organizations, churches, businesses along with individuals and gave a little something back to the citizenry.
So this big “thank you” to the town folk has occurred every year since.
About mid-morning, a parade starts going around our city park, which is centered in the middle of town. This parade is a story unto itself. When I first saw this, it was almost surreal – giant steam-powered tractors which are the biggest stars of the show, come puffing down the street. I mean giant; like a couple stories tall. I can’t really describe it because it feels like you stepped back in time.
Coming from not just North County but far beyond, these are museum pieces and you have to realize that these behemoths, a few with one-cylinder, yes one cylinder, are actually still running over 100 years after they first were built. It’s hard to believe these vehicles can run and some of them are absolutely beautiful.
Every tractor you can imagine drives by along with lots of bands and of course the town’s officials and business people. Classic cars, steamrollers, harvesters and fire engines of different sorts also parade around and there are some cool horse-drawn vehicles and they too might have dignitaries on them.
After the parade, the lines form for the bean feed – it’s free so you can imagine what it looks like when all of a sudden several thousands people stand in line in our city’s park. Then you can mill around downtown or go to the Museum (Pioneer Park) and look at some of the vehicles up close. There’s also a horseshoe throwing contest. Don’t forget, there are tasting rooms in every direction.
There are all kinds of things to do like watch wood carvers, shelling and grinding corn, make butter, watch a smith shoe a horse and basket-making. There’s probably more but you get the picture.
If you’re into antiques and friendly socializing the way it used to be, this event is perfect. It truly is everything that a small town or community can offer. The atmosphere is fun and special … pure Americana.
Additional source – Check out some great pics here
See ya ’round pardner,
Daryle W. Hier