Final preparations are underway for the 13th Annual Morro Bay Avocado and Margarita Festival.
Put on by the Chamber of Commerce, Chamber CEO Erica Crawford said the festival will once again be raising money for local charities, with this year’s beneficiaries being the “Survivoars” dragon boat paddle team; Estero Bay Newcomers Club; Central Coast Partners for Equestrian Therapy; Rotary Club of Morro Bay; and the Morro Bay High School Cheerleaders program.
“By the end of this year’s festival,” Crawford said, “we will have donated $56,000 over the past five years.”
The festival, set for 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, has always been a celebration of the local avocado crop and its growers, who have been an important part of the agricultural economy of San Luis Obispo County for decades.
But it’s also a celebration of the No. 1 favorite mixed cocktail — the margarita — a music festival and, more and more, a family-friendly event.
LOCAL TALENT ON DISPLAY
The festival celebrates the fruit, adult beverages and family, Crawford explained. The music has always featured the best of local talent and this year’s lineup is no exception. Bands booked to perform include Cuesta Ridge, Resination, The Jammies, Samba Loca drummer circle, the Dork Band and Cocktail Shorty.
The Dork Band? They’re a very animated and theatrical group, Crawford said of the Top 40 cover band. And classic rock/blues band, Cocktail Shorty, “is the right vibe for the end of a long day.”
There’s a second stage in the “Grom Zone,” the area at the bottom of Pacific Street that will be filled with games for kids and a stage that will feature the karate/movement studio students giving a martial arts exhibition, and the SLO Symphony and its “musical petting zoo” featuring a number of instruments the kids can pick up and attempt to play. The City’s Kids Club and Morro Bay High art students will man an arts and crafts tent.
A CULINARY EXPERIENCE
This year’s festival will be more of a culinary experience too, as Crawford said they will have a special area where local restaurants and vendors will be serving up gourmet dishes using avocados as one of the ingredients.
The MBHS cheerleaders once again have the corner on guacamole and chips, she said. Another returning favorite will be the Central Coast Women for Fisheries, who serve up a wonderful albacore tuna-stuffed avocado.
Several “avocado ambassadors” will be wandering the festival handing out menus and information, she said.
The City’s trolleys will be running that day so people can park at Morro Rock and ride to the festival gate, and they’ve set up a special area on Market Avenue (next to Dorn’s) as an Uber and Lyft pick-up and drop-off spot for those who don’t want to drive down to the festival and try and find parking.
The festival will once again be centered in the City’s parking lot at 714 Embarcadero where the main stage and culinary tents will be, and the street from Harbor to Marina streets will be closed to traffic. Some 100 vendors selling a wide variety of goods will line the street, which Crawford said is the same number they had last year.
The Margarita Man will again serve up their cocktail specialties. New this year, the Boochcraft, a Chula Vista company will serve “high alcohol” kombucha drinks that are promoted as “gluten free, organic and derived from free trade sources.”
AVOCADOS ARE THE STAR OF THE SHOW
But the focus, as always, is on avocados and the local industry. Volunteers will pick and pack 1.9 tons of fruit this year, Crawford said. The cheerleaders’ avocados are donated by the growers and they sell boxes of avocados to the food vendors at cost.
“We pack the boxes ourselves,” Crawford said. “And give away boxes throughout the day and we give away some avocado trees too.”
They will once again raffle off a grand prize of free avocados for a year. Every month, whether you want them or not, she said, they will deliver a box of avocados to the winner’s home, no matter where they live.
Advanced tickets are $7 Crawford said, and they have 2,500 of those. When they sell out, it goes up to $10 and the festival will be $10 at the gate. Kids 10 and under are free. Buying an advanced ticket guarantees you entry, she explained. At past festivals they’ve reached their capacity limits and had to regulate entrants, letting one person in when one person leaves.
Tickets are available online at avomargfest.com.
A couple of events from past years won’t return this year as the Chamber isn’t going to do a Taste of the Grove foodie event, held the night before, and there will not be a Sombrero Decorating Contest this year.
They will do the popular “Strong Arm” contest wherein contestants hold up with one hand a box of avocados with additional fruit added until one-by-one the boxes fall. They will again have the giant Jenga game and are working on some new games for the adults to play, with prizes of course