PASO POPS: The Paderewsky Festival provides a patriotic party for Paso Robles

PASO ROBLES — Paso Pops, the annual Paderewski Festival-sponsored concert and Independence Day celebration in Paso Robles combining wine, beer, food, family-friendly activities, live music and fireworks took place on Saturday, July 1 at the Paso Robles Horse Park. The 2017 patriotic “Pops” program was performed by The San Luis Obispo Symphony, Youth Symphony and The Swing Dolls culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.

“The feeling of American patriotism is alive and well here,” said volunteer and Paderewski Festival board member Cri Cri Solak-Eastin. ”It started when the master of ceremonies, Casey Biggs came onto the stage waving a huge American flag. At first people were quiet and then there was this groundswell of applause and people were actually wiping tears from their eyes.”

People seemed to be responding very positively to the changes in the format of the event as well. According to Solak-Eastin, planning began only one week after the last year’s event and the board made every effort to take every comment, complaint and praise into consideration. With that guests experienced two jumbotrons flanking the stage versus just one, an additional set of speakers set halfway back on the field so that those in general admission could enjoy better sound, more organized parking, picnics were allowed in addition to the food trucks and the hours were extended so people could stay for the “after party” featuring Ricky Montijo and the Mojitos instead of fighting traffic to get out. The California Highway Patrol and the Paso Robles’ Police Department helped a lot to make the traffic issues better this year, said Solak-Eastin.  

Besides the San Luis Obispo Youth Orchestra enjoying the benefits and experience of having played side by side with the SLO Symphony in both rehearsal hours and regular wages, proceeds from Paso Pops goes to local, non-profit youth arts programs in conjunction with the Paderewski Festival, youth and cultural programs including the Studios on the Park Youth program, the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation and the Paderewski Festival's Youth Piano Competition and International Cultural Exchange. 

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