HEALTHY CONFECTIONARY OPENS IN SANTA MARIA’S OLD ORCUTT DISTRICT
Can a confectioner be obsessed with health, organic ingredients and getting away from processed foods? The answer is “yes” according to Alexandra Thompson, the proprietor, confectioner, baker and chocolatier behind Heart & Sugar, a new confectionary that she opened in Santa Maria’s Old Orcutt district in July of 2015. A native of Russia, Thompson studied art and food science in Europe before completing the Chocolatier Program at the Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver, Canada. Today, she graces Santa Maria Valley with her artful truffles, cake pops, caramels, macaroons, cakes and more, using high quality Belgian chocolate and incorporating many organic ingredients. Her repertoire ranges from traditional favorites to more exotic flavor combinations such as vanilla-basil. The shop itself is alive with light and color providing a pleasing background for immaculate, whimsical displays and presentations.
STREET FESTIVAL CELEBRATES HARVEST ON OCTOBER 3
In a place with so much bounty, the harvest is a serious celebration here in the Santa Maria Valley. It all kicks off on Saturday, October 3 with the 32nd Annual Autumn Arts Grapes and Grains Festival held from noon to 6 p.m. along the McClelland Street Corridor (500 to 600 South McClelland Street in and around the Abel Maldonado Youth Center in downtown Santa Maria). This one-day, family-friendly street fair offers a fine arts show, art sale and artists’ demonstrations; crafts activities; and live music. Fine wine and craft beer tasting happens from noon to 3:30 p.m. on the lawn behind the Youth Center. New this year is the “Cutest Lil’ Pumpkin” costume contest and a “Scarecrow Decorating” challenge. Come out and celebrate!
DOWNTOWN LAUNCHES TROLLEY ROUTE TO BENEFIT VISITORS AND LOCALS ALIKE
A new 28-passenger trolley is gracing the streets of Santa Maria. In hopes of better connecting the downtown with visitors at area hotels as well as locals running errands or enjoying a lunch break, the City of Santa Maria launched the Santa Maria Downtown Trolley on August 24. The trolley is running year-round between the Santa Maria Inn and the Town Center West shopping area on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and on weeknights from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. On weekends it runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along Broadway Street from the hotels near Preisker Lane on the north end of town to the Santa Maria Inn on the south side. Fares are $1 for regular riders and 50 cents for seniors and people with disabilities. Children ages five and younger ride for free. The city has also created a Rider Rewards program, which provides special discounts at downtown restaurants for trolley riders.
‘THE PAD’ IS FIRST OF ITS KIND FITNESS FACILITY FOR NORTHERN SB COUNTY
The Pad, a first-of-its-kind fitness facility for Northern Santa Barbara County, is proving popular with those who like to climb the walls and enjoy the camaraderie of others who enjoy “getting vertical.” Located at 2399 ‘A’ Street (off Betteravia Road) in Santa Maria, this 10,000-square-foot climbing gym features wall-to-wall padded floors; 5,000-square-feet of bouldering terrain (ie: textured walls without ropes); and movable handholds and footholds. A weight room, yoga classes, a “hang board,” kids’ programs and private event rental availability are also features of the space. The Pad opened in July 2015 and was launched by Yishai and Kristin Tara Horowitz, who also own and operate SLO-OP Climbing Gym, a popular spot in San Luis Obispo.
ART GALLERY REINVENTS ITSELF IN OLD ORCUTT LOCATION
The Valley Art Gallery is celebrating a new location at 1108 E. Clark Avenue, Suite 170 in Orcutt. Formerly called the Town Center Gallery, this hub for artists and art lovers alike is overseen by Members of the Valley Art Gallery organization, which includes individuals specializing in everything from pottery, paintings and textiles to photography, jewelry and 3-D art. Here, vineyards, coastline, rolling hills and agriculture are just some of the local subjects depicted in a range of media by Central Coast artists, some of whom are nationally renowned. The gallery also maintains a satellite location of rotating exhibits at the Santa Maria Public Airport, where travelers waiting for a flight can enjoy scenes of the Central Coast and even purchase art as a souvenir. The gallery is particularly proud of its scholarships and art classes that it provides for all ages, and the fact that visitors often enjoy personally meeting the artists, some of whom work during gallery hours.
CELEBRATION OF HARVEST GRAND TASTING OCTOBER 10
Our region’s spectacular array of food and wine come together on October 10 – all under brilliant fall skies at this year’s Celebration of Harvest Festival Grand Tasting. The event happens at Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang, which was established in 1804 as a link between the Missions of Santa Barbara and La Purisima Concepción in Lompoc. Here, more than 100 wineries, restaurants, caterers and gourmet food purveyors offer up a taste of their fare, all amid a stunning historic setting made complete with a variety of live music entertainers. Throughout the weekend, wineries also present their own events, ranging from winemaker’s dinners and special tours to new wine releases and barrel tastings.
“DAY OF THE DEAD” IS ALIVE AND WELL IN SANTA MARIA VALLEY
When it comes to “Day of the Dead” celebrations, the Santa Maria Valley, located on California’s Central Coast in Northern Santa Barbara County, is alive and kicking. Indeed, on Sunday, November 1 from noon to 6 p.m., the City of Santa Maria is hosting its third-annual “Day of the Dead” or “Dia de Los Muertos” festival where the public erects large, colorful altars honoring loved ones amid music, dancing and festive activities for all ages. It’s all happening at the Veterans Memorial Community Center at 313 W. Tunnell Street and at the adjacent Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Santa Maria. Admission is free. Traditionally called “El Dia de los Muertos,” the ritual, which dates back thousands of years, was primarily started by the Aztecs, who viewed death as a continuation of life. Today the celebration is a national holiday in Mexico on November 1, and focuses on gatherings of family and friends who pray for loved ones who have died. Groups often visit graves and build altars laden with skeleton art and favorite food and beverages of the departed. The holiday has spread throughout the world and may be witnessed in a variety of countries including Brazil and Spain. For more information, or to sign up to build an altar, the public may contact the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department at (805) 925-0951 ext. 260.
NEW GOURMET COFFEE HOUSE IS POPULAR HUB IN SANTA MARIA’S OLD ORCUTT
Santa Maria’s new 6 Degrees coffee house and eatery located in the city’s Old Orcutt District opened in August as a way to bring creative minds together. Indeed, owners Jude and Starr Egan named the café after the idea that we are each just six introductions away from meeting anyone else in the world. Sporting a streamlined, simple design aesthetic, the space is filled with modern art and invites patrons to hang out and enjoy complimentary, high speed Wi-Fi. Quality, healthful food from farmers markets is the focus here with menu items such as poached egg dishes; a quinoa and avocado tabbouleh dish; pesto turkey sandwiches; curry chicken; and tapas. Immaculate baked goods and coffee drinks made with coffee from Verve Coffee Roasters of Santa Cruz are also at the ready, as is tea supplied by Art of Tea of Los Angeles and craft beers.