The City of Morro Bay observes the fall season with three colorful and fun festivals, one that celebrates locally grown produce, one that celebrates locally raised shellfish, and one that celebrates the local fishing industry. What are they? The Avocado & Margarita Festival, the Oyster Festival, and the Harbor Festival.
Avocado & Margarita Festival
2013 brings us the seventh annual Avocado & Margarita Festival on September 14th and 15th with hours from 10:30 A.M. to 7 P.M. on Saturday and 10:30 A.M. to 4 P.M. on Sunday. The location is at the corner of Pacific and the Embarcadero.
This festival is one of the newer and most popular events in the town by the Rock. Admission is a mere $2.00 per person and part of that money is donated to the Morro Bay High School Music Boosters. The ticket price includes admission and entertainment. Food and drinks are sold separately.
Visitors will enjoy delicious dishes utilizing all variations of locally grown avocados along with refreshing and tangy margaritas while they listen to live music. Over 70 vendors offer food, drinks, art and crafts, and more. Five local avocado growers have special booths.
“We’ll have raffles and people can win prizes from participating vendors,” commented Nancy McKarney, Event Coordinator. “Just fill out an entry coupon and toss it in the barrel. Drawings will be held throughout the event and the winners can choose what prize they want.”
Other fun is had with the Best Sombrero and Best Fiesta Costume contests. On Saturday entrants in the Best Sombrero will strut across the stage. “It doesn’t have to be an actual sombrero, McKarney said, “Any decorated hat will do.” The audience will pick the winner by applause. This contest is sponsored by Mission Community Bank. On Sunday the Best Fiesta Costumes get up on stage and do their parade. Again audience applause picks the winner. Both events can be entered by anyone regardless of age and winners will receive a special raffle prize. You can register for these contests online at avomargfest.com or at the festival.
It’s the peoples’ choice for the best avocado dish presented by participating food vendors and the winner will receive a special award to display at their place of business.
Sunday afternoon a special drawing is held and that winner gets a year’s supply of avocados. The grower ships the winner a certain amount every month similar to fruit of the month clubs.
So if you like avocados and you crave a refreshing margarita, or cold beer, along with some great music and fun shopping, come on out to Morro Bay for the Avocado & Margarita Festival.
The Morro Bay Harbor Festival
Celebrate at the water’s edge with the 32nd Annual Morro Bay Harbor Festival. This longest running outdoor event is probably the most popular festival of the season what with fresh seafood, the Commercial Fishermen’s BBQ, locally brewed beer, and wine from area wineries, as well as great musical entertainment and fun for the kids.
The Harbor Festival runs on Saturday, October 5th and 6th this year and has been totally redesigned. “Our new logo and web site tells it all,” commented Don Doubledee, Event Coordinator, “a new site layout was also completed for this year.”
The Seafood Wine and Beer Court will be in front of the Great American Fish Restaurant and features a colorful “Sail” cover designed by Spin Cycle instead of an enclosed tent. Seafood restaurant booths, breweries, and over 30 local wineries will be located on three sides of this cover. Giovanni’s Restaurant is sponsoring a Wine Pub and Libertine Pub is sponsoring a Beer Pub. The annual clam chowder cook-off with chowder from area restaurants will take place here.
Access to the restaurants (Great American Fish Company, Dockside, and Harbor Hut) surrounding the perimeter of the festival does not require festival entry and they are offering special BBQ and seafood meals.
The center of the festival will have the Main Stage and entertainment includes the Young Dubliners, Hot Buttered Rum, Lakes, Danielle LoPresti and the Masses, Tropo, Fast Times and Mother Hips, the Bay News Hawaiian Shirt Contest, and Giovanni’s Oyster Eating Contest. Roaming entertainment includes belly dancers, minstrels, and other fun acts.
Kids Cove will have the popular Bubble Fun Ride, the Bounce House, and the Discovering Science Exhibits including a “Sail” cover for the kids’ outdoor exhibits.
The Checkerboard Stage will showcase dancers from Pacific Dance, music by the White Caps, and other local youth entertainers.
The South T-Pier houses the maritime exhibits including some hands-on fun with a touch tank and fish painting for children.
Shopping bargains are available from a variety of more than 100 vendors offering arts and crafts and commercial sales. Non-profit organizations will have booths with information and items to purchase.
Admission to the Harbor Festival is $10 for adults and $5 for children five years and older. Pre-sale tickets for $8 are available at Albertson’s market, the Harbor Festival office, and local motels. You can check out several ticket packages on the web site at mbhf.com.
The Morro Bay Harbor Festival serves as a fundraiser for 30 San Luis Obispo County non-profit organizations.
The Central Coast Oyster Festival
Returning for their second year in Morro Bay is the Central Coast Oyster Festival. This new event was a spectacular success last year and promises even more this time around. On Saturday, October 19th the greens at Morro Bay Golf Course will be lit up from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Sweet, succulent Pacific Gold oysters are the star of this festival all provided by the Morro Bay Oyster Company, widely recognized as one of the greatest suppliers on the West Coast.
The festival will feature a range of amazing oyster preparations, the best area wines and brews, and full lineup of knockout bands to play throughout the day.
“There are so many great wine, food, and entertainment events on the Central Coast,” said Jacqueline Delaney, Event Coordinator, “that we’re really concentrated on creating an experience unlike any other to equally highlight entertainment and art right alongside the food and wine experience.”
Dozens of chefs from across the Central Coast will go head-to-head for the “Best Oyster of the Central Coast Chef Award,” and the audience will get to taste their sumptuous efforts.
Local oyster shuckers will get to demonstrate their speed and skill in the oyster shucking competition at 2 pm and the Peoples’ Choice Oyster winner will be announced at 5pm.
The Aphrodisiac Lounge will feature a raw oyster bar, sparkling wine, chocolates and cheeses.
While oysters are the main attraction, food vendors will offer many delectable dishes to delight the foodies in the audience.
All of this takes place under the design installations by SpinCycle, a locally based event art installation company, which includes special features such as whimsical structures. The DoLab, an event production and creative lighting design company will showcase their organic design approach utilizing natural materials, found objects, and sustainable resources.
Entertainment includes Vokab Kompany, Diegos Umbrella, TROPO, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, and Forrest Day on the festival music stage. The headliner entertainment will be announced soon.
It’s more than just a one-day festival this year. On Thursday and Friday, October 17th and 18th a golf tournament takes place at the golf course with one type of prize being an oyster tasting at each hole. On Friday evening an exclusive five-course Abalone dinner with Star Chef Bradley Ogden takes place and includes a raw oyster bar at the Inn at Morro Bay. Entertainment that night is by William Close and the Earth Harp Collective. Sunday, October 20th people can enjoy a bay cruise with brunch.
Tickets are $24 and include an earth friendly souvenir water bottle if purchased by September 1st. Tickets can be purchased online at CentralCoastOysterFestival.com. Be the first 1000 to purchase tickets and you will be entered to win amazing wines, brews, oysters, t-shirts and other prizes. This event benefits Options Family of Services, a non-profit serving the disabled or persons with developmental disabilities, and persons with traumatic brain injuries.
Karin Moss, Executive Director of the Morro Bay Tourism Bureau says, “These events showcase the essence of Morro Bay.”
— Ruth Ann Angus