Day in the Old West fundraiser helps keep museum admission free
The good people of El Paso de Robles love to PAR-TEE. Pioneer Museum is known to have had some great ones. The Museum seems to never disappoint; this one was no exception! On a beautiful Saturday afternoon and evening in August, Pioneer Museum campus was alive with activity.
Children, teens and adults — 193 Roblans in all — came through the gate to celebrate the last Saturday before school started. The event was under the direction of Bill Pluma and Bonnie Nelson – two of the Board members. With the help of volunteers, docents, friends ‘n’ family, plus other board members, the event was a hit for sure. Billed as a DAY IN THE OLD WEST – a fundraiser to keep Museum admission free, about the only thing missing was a full-fledged rodeo!
When the Museum board announced five months back that there was going to be a fiesta, once again, the businesses of Paso jumped right in. Fourteen of them contributed substantial sponsorships Donations of goods and services came from the big guys right down to very small “couple-person-shops.” All-in-all, about thirty places donated to help keep Pioneer Museum in the forefront of local attractions. The service clubs including the Cubs and Boy Scouts got involved as well. All of what was donated and loaned made for a scrumptious meal of tri-tips, chicken, dogs, salads, corn-on-the-cob, fresh watermelon, cookies and shaved ice plus both adult and soft beverages.
Randy Terra and his BBQ Crew filled the entire campus with aromas that made everyone drool. Paul and Anna Hohman cooked and served a couple hundred ears of corn-on-the-cob that by all accounts was, “Man, this is the best corn I’ve ever had!”
The Grant Family looked like sushi chefs as their knives sliced and diced away at ice-cold watermelons. And, over by the Jail Display, Paradise Shaved Ice owned by Angela Rayher and her teenage daughter, Leah, — whose idea it was to start the business three years ago — supplied nice cool treats on a warm day! Tom Apkarian and Shawn Rowe poured beer from kegs while Chuck and Heather Desmond were the wine servers of the day.
The Del Gomes Trio has played for various other Museum events and on this day, they were rockin’ the porch of the Museum’s one-room schoolhouse with country music from the 50s to today. It was super to have them back again and they kept toes tapping and hips swinging.
Games for smaller children proved to be a hit as they were set up outdoors by the “re-created replica of Paso’s first jail.” Kathy McNamara orchestrated making Wanted Posters for heinous crimes like getting hot dog mustard on your shirt with the kids’ photos on them and then posting them on the jail walls – just like in the old west. A cornucopia of games and other activities filled their attention spans.
Nancy Smitz brought one of her ponies for photo-ops with the smaller children riding tall in the saddle. Not too far away was a JB Dewar-sponsored restored tractor that was recently at the Fair. The tractor rebuilding program — for my vote anyway — is absolutely one of the best things Roblans do to preserve the past and teach so many skills to the next generation. This one was restored by Isaac Lindsey. Bob Tullock arranged to have it moved to the Museum campus for the day. Children who normally never get a chance to sit atop a tractor found this one to be perfectly sized.
The three halls of Pioneer Museum were of course, open to everyone. Plenty of docents were giving impromptu tours. With over 25,000 sq. ft. of covered space and 6,000 artifacts, there was plenty to see. The beautiful displays have gotten more and more elaborate and it isn’t uncommon to hear folks say that “on a routine visit, it took three hours to see everything!”
Pioneer Museum’s ongoing goal to remain “One of the Best in the West” continuously upgrades the displays and the campus. With some 5000 visitors each year, it is a true destination for Paso residents and folks checking out our pueblo.
There were just shy of 40 silent auction items orchestrated by Sharon Knoeppel and Jan Coppoletti. As promised, they were not the run of the mill items. Oil changes, dog sitting, gallons of paint with supplies, locally hand-made wooden treasures, a “Rosewall Victorian birdhouse,” overnight resort stays, event tickets, framing certificates are but a sample of the offerings. There was a “surprise contest” too. A brand new wheelbarrow, stuffed with hay held a sack of golf balls. The closest guess took home the wheelbarrow!
Every ½ hour, there was a free drawing. The prizes included ‘goodie sacks’ from Museum gift-shop items, a bag of groceries and adult liquid refreshment. The main free drawing was for a donated night’s stay at 1890s Emily’s Bed and Breakfast on 9th Street. with all the niceties for a memorable get-away.
The biggest and most anticipated prize of the day was winning to be being chauffeured in the CASS Winery’s 1947 Chrysler. It also includes a gourmet lunch for four and an afternoon of wine tasting at wineries of the winner’s choice. Steve Cass, winery owner, is such a great supporter of great causes in Paso and his donation of that award to Pioneer Museum will be long time memory for the winner and her “gal-pal friends.”
Pioneer Museum is located at 2010 Riverside Ave and is open Thursday – Sunday 1-4 p.m. Thanks to all who came and helped and now admission is still free! Next event will be April or May 2018. Stay tuned.