Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 18
Hobnobbing with Helen
BY HELEN ANN THOMAS
It was fabulous, festive, and fun.
The first-ever, patriotic “Pops in the Vineyard” concert—presented by the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society on Sunday, July 1, at the Tres Hermanas Vineyard—was, on a scale of one to 10, a 20.
“We have had nothing but positive feedback,” the society’s executive director, George Majoue, said in a post-concert conversation. “It was eight months in the planning, and we are going to do it again.”
Well, that is such good news for the 373 folks who bought tickets to the concert featuring traditional 4th of July music: stirring marches and melodies evoking Americana (from “Rodeo” and “Appalachian Spring”).
Tres Hermanas was green and glorious with colorful tables and centerpieces, a wine bar, and food vendors. Underneath massive, leafy, and shady branches of huge old oak trees, picnickers without table tickets staked their claim on sections of the lawn and set up portable tables, chairs, and some awesome food spreads.
Tickets were a very affordable $15 for the “on-the-lawn, bring-your-own chair-or-blanket” seating. Tickets at party tables were $25 and $85.
Philharmonic board members and a crew of well-organized, hard-working volunteers were ecstatic over the turnout.
“This was our first year,” Ruth Ann Ontell said. “We weren’t sure what to expect.”
Among the crowd were ladies who dressed in a red, white, and blue theme. Jan Bartleson, Margaret Paden, and Diane Borad-Mirken (she is really into flags) looked terrific.
The spiffy-looking, sequin-spangled Judy Hearn wielded a handmade baton (gifted to her by the Philharmonic) to conduct the orchestra in its opening number, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Former KSBY anchorwoman (and Sun food and wine writer) Wendy Thies Sell announced the program and the winner of a well-stocked wine cooler.
Fred Sanders orchestrated a stellar event-within-the event. He’s a member of Santa Maria’s venerable birthday club that meets monthly to celebrate the birthdays of its members. Fred’s entourage boasted 85. Can this guy reel them in, or what?
The club hired Central City Market to cater a gourmet lunch. Fred ordered fragrant tuber rose and baby orchid leis—from Hawaii, if you please—for the July celebrants, which included himself and Hardy Hearn. (Music Director John Farrer also has a July birthday. He was the recipient of a cake at intermission.)
Enjoying the Fred Sanders production were Stu Bartleson, Judge Rodney and Vicki Melville, Dr. Dennis and Franziska Shepard, Dr. Robert and Eilene Okerblom, and Karen Ransome.
Another group had Chef Alfonso Curti of Trattoria Uliveto cater its lunch. Oh my, did they eat well!
There were chicken and tri-tip dinners ($15) from the Knights of Columbus barbecue team. Almost everyone made their way to Doc Burnstein’s ice-cream-mobile for a $4 cone.
Donna Beal and Bo Cudd were event coordinator and assistant event coordinator, respectively.
Complimentary transportation provided by SMOOTH was the icing on the birthday cake. Three busloads of ticket-holders with picnic baskets boarded buses at the Radisson. Such a great ride—thanks to improv comedy from folks like Deacon Zen Nawrocik.
Santa Maria Arts Council president Craig Shafer observed how well organized the event was and how incredibly problem-free it appeared. Summing up the Philharmonic’s success, he said, “This is amazing. This was the first time they did this concert, and they got everything right!”
Oh, yes, they did.
If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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