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The July 9th Central Coast Oyster and Music Festival at Avila Beach Resort offered perfect weather and plenty of festival weirdness 

It’s Saturday, July 9, and I’m at the fifth annual Central Coast Oyster and Music Festival at Avila Beach Golf Resort. The day is a stunner—high 70s, a brilliant, cloudless blue sky, and hundreds of smiling, relaxed people dotting the rolling green lawn that’s punctuated by whimsical shade structures, a fantastic bamboo-festooned stage, a line of food trucks, a cigar lounge, a wine garden, two bars, and more. Hubba-hubba! It’s a good-looking festival!

click to enlarge A PERFECT DAY:  Dead Feather Moon, an alternative rock band from San Diego, revs up the crowd from the custom bamboo stage on a clear, blue-sky day. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • A PERFECT DAY: Dead Feather Moon, an alternative rock band from San Diego, revs up the crowd from the custom bamboo stage on a clear, blue-sky day.

As we walk in, a row of artists are situated under the shade of a line of trees, each creating art live, on-the-spot. The first musical artist, Trevor Green, has just finished, and the stage crew works to set up Dead Feather Moon, a San Diego-based alternative rock act. Three members of the circus arts troupe Nomadik dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters stroll through the crowd on stilts

People have set up chairs in front of the stage and in various shade areas provided by whimsical structures featuring colorful canvas canopies. Only about an hour into the eight-hour event, the place is already filling up, though it’s hard to tell because the layout is spread over a vast area. There’s plenty of room to move, which is great for someone like me who doesn’t like to get trapped in huge crowds.

click to enlarge TASTY TREATS:  SLO Maid Ice Cream hawks frozen ice cream and yogurt from their vintage truck. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • TASTY TREATS: SLO Maid Ice Cream hawks frozen ice cream and yogurt from their vintage truck.

Like many festivals, it’s a bit pricey: $10 parking fee, $22 admission, $32 more if you want to taste the creations of the chefs involved in the oyster preparation competition, $13 for a beer with a pint glass, and another $8 for a refill. But it’s also a “zero waste” festival that tries to completely eliminate trash. It also offers free hydration stations, $10 admission for kids 13 to 17, and free admission for kids 12 and under as well as adults 55 or older. 

There’s lots of food and beverages to choose from, plenty to look at, lots of entertainment onstage and moving through the crowd—in short, it’s everything you could expect from a food, culture, and music festival. And judging from all the happy people, they think so too!

If you missed it, never fear—the sixth annual fest is just a year away! 

The world is Glen Starkey’s oyster. Contact him at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

click to enlarge STAY COOL:  A cadre of squirt-gun-toting neon clowns keep attendees cool with a few well-placed water streams. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • STAY COOL: A cadre of squirt-gun-toting neon clowns keep attendees cool with a few well-placed water streams.

click to enlarge DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE:  The Mad Hatter moves through the crowd on stilts during the Central Coast Oyster and Music Fest on July 9. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE: The Mad Hatter moves through the crowd on stilts during the Central Coast Oyster and Music Fest on July 9.

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