Lions Club hosts Pioneer Day volunteers and Royalty for annual barbecue
By Becca Sligh
Paso Robles Press Contributor
PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles Pioneer Day festivities continued with the annual Old Timers BBQ in San Miguel on Sunday, Aug. 27. In attendance were participating Lions Club members as well as Pioneer Day volunteers and Pioneer Day Royalty.
One volunteer, Gail Hubbard of the Morro Bay Lions Club, mentioned her and her husband have helped with this barbecue for many years. Hubbard also explained what the Lions Club does throughout the community: “Lions are the forerunners in vision screenings … they do blood drives, and their fundraisers include car shows and the bean feed [during Pioneer Day].”
Many volunteers and committee members showed up to help put on this barbecue. Debbie Moore Vandergon, who has been a part of the Pioneer Day Committee for 25 years, gave some insight as to why Paso celebrates Pioneer Day: “It started out with churches [and] business owners downtown would invite the ranchers and farmers in the area into town to thank them for their service and patronage throughout the year.”
While some may just think Paso Robles Pioneer Day is just the annual parade that takes place, there are actually numerous events that lead up to Paso’s Pioneer Day celebration. These events span throughout late August and September and include the announcement of Pioneer Day Royalty; The Old Timers BBQ; The Queen’s Luncheon, which includes a list of specific people invited by the reigning Pioneer Day Queen; the Pioneer Day Kick-Off Party, which is open to the public; and The Ladies Tea which is co-sponsored this year by the Native Daughters of The Golden West. Finally, the week of the Pioneer Day Parade, the second invite-only Old Timer’s Dinner is held at the fairgrounds, and last but not least is the Pioneer Day Parade that takes place in downtown Paso Robles.
As mentioned above, Pioneer Day names a Queen each year. The Pioneer Day Court is selected based on a long-standing tradition of families who have settled in the area to reign over the celebration. This year, the Grand Marshal is Don Campbell, the Pioneer Day Queen is Margaret Avila, and the Pioneer Day Belle is Kayla Degnan.
“It’s quite an honor,” Campbell said about being Grand Marshal. “I’ve been around this a long, long time and I’ve always admired the choice of the Marshal, so it’s nice to be one.” Campbell states he’s more excited for the parade and hopes it goes smoothly this year.
The Pioneer Day Queen title was given to Margaret Avila, a native Paso Robles resident who was also recognized as CattleWoman of the Year by San Luis Obispo County in 2018.
“Being a queen is something else,” said Avila, who also stated she’s looking forward to the parade and will be riding in the Queen’s Carriage.
This year, Kayla Degnan was named the Pioneer Day Belle. She is a senior at Paso Robles High School, is the captain of the varsity cheer team, and competes on the stunt team. Degnan is also involved in Paso Robles High’s journalism program and hopes to attend Cal Poly as an English major.
At just 17 years old, Degnan is a well-rounded and beautifully spoken young lady who is eager to make an impact during her time as the Pioneer Day Belle.
“[Being the Belle is] a great opportunity and it’s also very bittersweet since my mom and sister were both Belle attendants, so I followed my sister through the process in 2019 and it was really cool to get to do it this year,” she said.
Throughout the year, Degnan states she’s excited to attend functions like these as well as share her family history. Degnan’s family comes from a long line of pioneers native to the San Miguel area.
The Paso Robles Pioneer Day celebrations take place up until the Oct. 14 parade, which will feature not only the Pioneer Day Royalty but historic tractors and vehicles that will grace the parade route.
Upcoming Pioneer Day festivities include:
- Saturday, Sep. 23 | Pre-Pioneer Day Kick-Off Party
- Saturday, Oct. 7 | Pioneer Day Ladies Luncheon
- Saturday, Oct. 14 | Pioneer Day Parade
For more information on the Pioneer Day Parade and its upcoming festivities, visit pasoroblespioneerday.org
Feature Image: Volunteers with the Lions Club help out with the Pioneer Day Old Timers BBQ in San Miguel on Aug. 27. Photo by Becca Sligh