Ninth annual event celebrates heritage and community with tractors, military reenactments, and family fun

NORTH COUNTY — Born out of love for heritage and community, the 9th Annual Best of the West Antique Equipment Show returned to the historical Santa Margarita Ranch this Memorial Day Weekend, May 24 through 26.

“It was another great event,” said Pioneer Day Committee Vice Chair and President of the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau Sarah Kramer. “I mean, on Saturday, the parking lot was pretty much full which means it’s a great turnout to us. This year, we added a military reenactment group that came. That was really cool.”

The event is the first of many leading up to Paso Robles’s Pioneer Day in October. While the event supports all that goes into Pioneer Day, it is also an opportunity for the committee to bring out their tractors for some exercise. 


Kramer explains that Best of the West is an opportunity to get up and personal with the antique equipment, “Best of the West is basically another reason for Pioneer Day to get our equipment out of the barns. So historically, the equipment was only run once a year where now we can we have a whole weekend to do it. And everyone loves to see all the equipment from Pioneer Day, but they don’t necessarily get to touch it. It just goes by.”

The Pioneer Day Committee owns around 40 pieces of tractors and equipment, most of which came from local farms and ranches of generational families. Other committee members or locals bring out their equipment to join the show, too.

A few weeks before Best of the West, all of the equipment gets pulled out of the barns for a good washing and tune-up. Then, everything is loaded up and taken out to the Santa Margarita Ranch. Some tractors and equipment from out of state even make it out to the ranch to be shown off for the community.

“One of the big things we do every morning is that we treat them, not only our tractors, but anyone’s who’s there, theyall get checked for water, they all get checked for oil and we treat everybody the same,” Pioneer Day Tractor Committee Chair Austin Sligh told Paso Robles Press/Atascadero News back in April. 

Santa Margarita Ranch poses as the perfect location to enjoy a family gathering outside and teach the younger generations about the heritage of our area. 

“The tractors are a huge part of it [the show],” explained Sligh. “I mean, the tractors attract the people, but to get the community involved is really what we’re after.”

Many fan-favorite activities were back at the ranch, including the Farm Bureau’s tri-tip dinners and other food vendors (including a bar), parades, and the Kid’s Corral. At noon each day, all operations paused for a military salute and flyover courtesy of the Estrella Warbirds.

Honoring the military is one of Kramer’s favorite parts of the weekend. 

“Every day at noon, we do a military salute, and we honor our military,” she said. “And then that’s when we do the flyover. So to me, that’s the most important part of each day.”

The Pioneer Day Committee has announced the schedule for this year’s events and fundraisers, all of which contribute to the continued success of Pioneer Day. As always, the community comes together to celebrate the heritage of Paso Robles and the surrounding areas.

Event Schedule:

Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival

Date: June 1

Location: Paso Robles Event Center

Details: Benefiting Pioneer Day, this festival has hosted over 2,500 craft beer lovers since 2012. Enjoy an array of craft beers in a festive atmosphere.

San Miguel Old Timers BBQ

Date: Aug. 25, 12-2 p.m.

Location: San Miguel Community Park

Details: Hosted by the San Miguel Lions Club, this event promises a delightful barbecue experience for all.

Pioneer Day Kickoff Party

Date: Sept. 28

Location: Estrella Warbird Museum

Details: A fun-filled evening featuring a barbecue dinner, live and dessert auctions, music, dancing, and casino games. Meet the 2024 Royalty in a lively setting.

94th Annual Paso Robles Pioneer Day Parade

Date: Oct. 12, 10 a.m.

Location: Downtown Paso Robles

Details: This year’s parade will feature antique tractors, horse-drawn wagons, marching bands, mounted equestrian groups, youth groups, church groups, civic groups, floats, vintage cars, fire engines, military vehicles, and more.

For more information about the events, visit

Featured Image: Several memorable historical tractors and farm equipment were put on display for the Best of the West event on May 24-26 at Santa Margarita Ranch. Photos by Rick Evans