The Pioneer Day Parade starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9
PASO ROBLES — This weekend, Paso Roblans near and far will roll into town for the 91st Pioneer Day on Oct. 9.
Since 1931, a parade of farm equipment (now considered antiques), horses, floats, and people stroll down Spring Street for the Pioneer Day Parade. But no Pioneer Day Parade is complete without its royal court.
Irene Marquart (99) is the 2021 Pioneer Day Queen, and Tom Flynn Sr (83) is this year’s Marshal.
When Pioneer Day was first celebrated on Oct. 12, 1931, many traditions were born for Paso Robles. One being the Pioneer Day Royalty.
Paso Robles’ first Pioneer Day saw Sam Eddy as their first Grand Marshal and Ann Casper as their first Belle. It wasn’t until 1932 when Paso chose their first Queen, Jennie Wiley.
In addition to a Queen and Marshal, a Pioneer Day Belle is chosen along with her Belle Attendants.
Two belles were chosen this year, one for 2020 (since we missed last year) and one for 2021.
Jenna Smith was chosen as the 2020 belle representing the Adelaida area, and Isabelle Stemper was chosen as the 2021 belle representing the Creston area.
Queens, marshalls, and belles are chosen based on their family’s lineage or connection to Paso Robles’s history.
Pioneer Day Royalty is honored at various events leading up to the big day in October.
On Sep. 16, the annual Ladies Luncheon was held honoring Paso Robles Pioneer Royalty and ladies of the North County.
This year’s luncheon was held at the Estrella Warbirds Museum, “Celebrating 91 years of the Pioneer Spirit.”
The Old Timer’s BBQ is a similar event celebrating the year’s chosen marshal but was unfortunately canceled this year.
2021 Pioneer Day Royalty
Marshal Tom Flynn Sr.
Tom Flynn Sr. was born in San Fernando Valley on Jan. 13, 1938. He was number ten of 13 children. His mother always taught her children the meaning of hard work, and they all had jobs and helped support the family.
After high school, Tom joined the US Navy for two years and married his wife Sharon in 1960, just two days after she graduated high school. The two have been married for 61 years now.
In 1978 Tom Sr. and Sharon brought their family to the Paso Robles area where Sharon’s father, Jack Phillips, was involved with the Oak Shores and Heritage Ranch developments.
Tom said they loved it high up on the hill. They had all the farm animals, a big garden, quite the experience plus a beautiful home.
In 1979, Tom and Sharon went to their first Pioneer Day, and they were hooked. After that, the couple got involved with Pioneer Day, Lions Club, and then Main Street. Some of their favorite memories were Main Street Bbq at Farmers Market on Friday nights, Crazy Days, and Lions Club Chicken Bbq in the park.
In all, Tom’s favorite of the Pioneer Day festivities is getting to know another side of people.
He says, “Getting to know people outside of their real-world [is my favorite part]. People are a lot different when they’re not in the work mode–it’s pretty interesting to catch them off guard.”
Tom Jr. and his wife Rosie have three daughters, Jenny (deceased), Marie, and Eryn. They have three grandchildren. Marty and his wife Teri have two daughters Angee and Nikkie. Thus, they are blessed with four grandchildren, and Tom Sr. and Sharon have seven great-grandchildren to love and spoil.
Collectively, the Flynn Family has chipped in to help make Paso Robles the unique and growing place that it is. Now, they manage the cemetery under contract with the Paso Robles District Cemetery Board.
While he is excited to be named Marshall, Tom humbly says, “I like to stay in the background and just be the worker bee.”
Queen Irene Elizabeth Smith Marquart
Paso’s 2021 Queen, Irene Elizabeth Smith Marquart, was born November 24, 1921, in Fulton County, Arkansas. Like many at the time, Irene’s father went ahead of the family to California to look for work. In 1929, Irene’s mother sold all their belongings to buy a flatbed pickup truck, and seven siblings moved to the Creston area.
One of Irene’s favorite memories growing up was listening to her mother play hymns on her organ. The very same organ is now on display in the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum.
Later at one Saturday night dance at the Templeton Legion Hall, Irene met the handsome and lovable Nick Marquart. The two were married in 1930 on Nick’s family ranch, which he was managing.
In the 1870s, Nick’s grandfather, Nicholas A. Marquart, homesteaded the ranch. Fifth-generation Maquarts now run the ranch, and Irene still calls it home.
Nick and Irene were always very active in community affairs. They have been Farm Bureau members since 1939 and have held various leadership roles over the years.
They were community leaders for Templeton 4-H Club, Happy Trails RV Club members, and charter members of the Do Paso Square Dance Club. In addition, Irene was active in the Paso Robles Women’s Club, Paso Robles Republican Women, a docent at the Templeton Historical Museum, and a Central Coast Woodcarver Association member.
The Paso Robles Pioneer Day has been a family tradition for the Marquart’s. In 2000, Nick was the Pioneer Day Marshall. For years, Irene danced on one of the square dancing floats.
Now, it is Irene’s turn to wear the crown. “She’s been really excited about it. And very honored and thankful. She is feeling very blessed,” says Lucille.
Sadly, Nick passed away in 2006 at the ripe age of 90 years. The two had three children together, Nancy Otto, Lucille Milani, and Nick Jr.
Today Irene has six grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and recently welcomed her first great-great-grandchild. In November, Irene will be turning 100 years young.
At the age of 99, Irene says, “My life has been a long, happy one for which I am very thankful!”
- Jenna Smith – Adelaida Area
- Ardis Warner – Templeton area
- Isabelle Stemper – Creston Area
- Avery Hambly – Paso Robles Area
- Megan Hewston – Willow Creek Area
- Hailey Hodel – Keys Canyon in the Estrella Area
- Vanessa Mowreader – San Miguel Area
- Mia Lojacono-Smith – Hesperia Area
The Pioneer Day Parade starts promptly at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, in downtown Paso Robles. The parade route begins at 16th and Spring Street and ends surrounding the Paso Robles City Park.
For more information on Pioneer Day, visit pasoroblespioneerday.org