Magical History – Holiday Events in Paso Robles

Paso Robles has a fondness for history and a way of making it come alive in new and exciting ways during the holidays every year. Nostalgia is celebrated in such a way as to make all that is old seem new and fresh, and the easiest way to truly experience the magic of the holidays is to attend one of the following events and watch faces young and old light up all over town.

The magic kicks off the day after Thanksgiving and culminates on New Year’s Eve, here is the roster of events coming up:

Light the Downtown IMG_4136
Friday, November 29, 2013
5:30 p.m.
Paso Robles City Park

Mrs. Claus will officially kick off the holiday season when she lights the holiday tree in all its glory. Enjoy caroling, live music, cookies and hot chocolate. Trees throughout the park will be lit up in remembrance and support of those affected by cancer in association with Light Up the Night, put on by the Cancer Support Community. For more information call (805) 238-4103 or visit

Paso Robles Downtown Christmas Light Parade ChristmasParade2
Saturday, December 7, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Downtown Paso Robles

A cherished Paso Robles holiday tradition is the town parade. Grab some warm blankets and chairs and head downtown to enjoy the sights of twinkling lights and spectacular floats. You don’t want to miss the parade this holiday season featuring local establishments and of course, Santa Claus who is taking time off from his busy toy making schedule to visit Paso Robles.

Vine Street Victorian Showcase Scrooge House
Saturday, December 14, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Vine Street between 8th and 21st Streets

For one night only, historic Vine Street comes alive with lights, live music, community open houses, cotton candy, free cookies and hot chocolate,  community caroling, fun… friends and festivities! Join your friends and neighbors in this beloved annual celebration filled with historic charm, nostalgia and Scrooge! Free admission and goodies.

Glow in the Park New Year’s Eve Celebration Glow in the Dark Face Paint_side eyes
8 p.m. to Midnight

Paso Robles City Park
Join us on New Year’s Eve for a family-friendly event and a park full of free activities to kick off 2014 and the City’s 125th Anniversary year. The park will be filled with glow in the dark activities followed by fireworks at midnight. Glow in the dark activities include: Croquet, Horseshoes, Bocce Ball, face painting and more. Music, food trucks, free admission. 



New Year’s Eve in Paso Robles, Part One

Paso Robles is poised to launch its 125th Anniversary year in a major way.

Incorporated in 1889, this farming, wine and culinary community will have much to celebrate when the fireworks explode at midnight this New Year’s Eve to ring in 2014.

Paso 125 Full Page Party Ad

Recently named the Wine Region of the Year, one of the Top 10 Happiest and Healthiest Places to Live and the winner of a prized Great American Main Street Award, this small town has charm, character and an intense concentration of truly amazing people, businesses and organizations that work hard to ensure that Paso Robles is a special place to live, work and play.

Much thought and care has gone into the planning of how best to celebrate such an important milestone as a 125th Anniversary in such a special community. Not only should the celebrations be meaningful and give back to the community, they should also be fun AND provide an experience that attendees will never forget.

Well, we have planned a New Year’s Eve that fit all those criteria and then some. For those that would like to support the beneficiaries of the 125th Anniversary (Pioneer Museum, Historical Society and Pioneer Day) in grand style there is a black-tie Gala Fundraising Dinner set in the historic Paso Robles Inn Grand Ballroom, the only part of the original el Paso de Robles Hotel, built in 1891, that didn’t burn down in the fire of 1941, lovingly restored to its prior and historically correct glory.

The setting is only the beginning of the magic, as guests will be treated to a four-course meal, a big band for dancing and live dance performance throughout the evening.

A brief live auction will keep the fundraising fun and fast before guests are handed a champagne glass and ushered across the street to witness the countdown to 2014 with fireworks at midnight over the historic City Park.

There are only a handful of tickets left for what promises to be the event of the year.

Tickets are $125 per person and  a portion of proceeds raised at the event go to benefit the organizations listed above.

Ticket price includes valet parking, dinner, dessert, dancing, amazing door prizes and memories that will last a lifetime. To order tickets, call (805) 227-7236.

For more information go to



ppt insp: Grand finale laser light show Grand finale laser light show

Paso Robles History Moves From Wild To Wines


by Daryle E. Hier at
As we noted during the earliest years of Paso Robles, founded by James Blackburn and Drury James, the 19th Century offered up the town as little more than a respite for those  traveling up and down the coast of California.  They had the sulfur mud hot springs and a train depot but for the most part, the region was ranch and farmland during the Wild West.

Outlaws Jesse and Frank James frequented Paso Robles.

Speaking of the Wild West, as an interesting side note, notorious outlaw Jesse James was Drury’s nephew and hid out in Paso Robles at their ranch and hotel (Paso Robles Hotel), while healing from a wound in a robbery back east.  There were several tunnels and/or subterranean passages under the town and surrounding region to hideout in or getaway if spotted.  Years later, Jesse’s older brother Frank – after serving some jail time – was seen visiting his family in Paso Robles up into the early 20th Century.

Wine slowly rooted itself in the region

As time went on, almond orchards were everywhere and for an era, made the town renowned for their almond production as the ‘Almond Capital of the World’ – before the San Joaquin Valley found water.  Nevertheless, during the late 1800s, Paso had some of the first commercial wineries built – mostly Italian immigrants planted the vines with many of them Zinfandel.  This period was known as the one of the first wine booms in California.

Just prior to World War I, famous Polish composer Ignace Paderewski, while touring, used the sulfur baths for relief of his sore pianist hands and was so taken by the area that he purchased a 2,000 acre ranch.  Paderewski primarily planted Zinfandel – with his name bringing more notoriety to the region.  The Paso Robles Hotel was infamous for visits from big name dignitaries like Paderewski, who stayed there mainly for the mineral hot springs.

Cattle ranches were also huge in the surrounding area and together with orchards, vineyards and farms, the town flourished and grew.  During the early days of the Depression, the businesses started a celebration called Pioneer Day in which private donors, churches and organizations got together to give back to the community and say thank you.  Pioneer Day is still celebrated in early October every year and to this day, the event is free to all including a parade, bean-feed and many other activities.

Small until …

Camp Roberts, Ca., helped bring an influx of population to the Paso Robles area in the Mid-20th Century.

Camp Roberts, Ca., helped bring an influx of population to the Paso Robles area in the Mid-20th Century.

Paso never really blossomed in size until the Army built Camp Roberts during World War II, just a dozen miles northwest of town.  However, my father Ron remembered visiting family in Atascadero (just 12 miles south of Paso) after the war and Atascadero was by far the larger and vibrant of the two towns with Paso considered a dusty little town.  The hot springs over time dried up and it appeared Paso Robles would be nothing more than a small town, lost in the big expanse of California.

One of the few things the town was known for, the Paso Robles Hotel burned down in 1940.  However, a new Paso Robles Inn replaced it and would continue its notoriety through the years.  After World War II, the Mid State Fair took form and added another reason for coming to the little town on the eastern edge of the California Coastal Range.

Cabernet Sauvignon - West PR

Cabernet Sauvignon was planted widely 50 years ago and is now the top grape grown in the Paso Robles region.

Through the 1970s, not much changed in Paso Robles and yours truly visited here in ’73 or ’74 (it’s too long ago to remember clearly) to play football and this was a small town then with maybe 7,000 residents.  Still, during this time, there were definite signs the town had turned to wine including the addition of thousands of acres of Cabernet Sauvignon being planted.

An innovative generation of visionaries brought the town a new economy that would change Paso forever.

We’ll finish this story shortly so keep an eye out for more here very soon as Paso Robles makes history …


Daryle W. Hier

125th Anniversary Cookbooks Are Out!

One of the first, and possibly most interesting, concepts that came from planning the celebration of Paso Robles’ 125th Anniversary in 2014 was the idea to develop a recipe book to commemorate the occasion. The plan was to go out into the community and solicit the favorite family recipes of anyone who was willing to share them with the public. The cookbook committee set their goal at 350 recipes and got to work spreading the word about their project to long-time residents, grateful transplants, chefs, restaurants and foodies. Each entrant was asked to include a blurb about their history in Paso Robles.

A few months and 400 recipes later this charming book was born:

Paso Robles Cookbook

Cover art by local artist John Partridge

Flipping through this gem of a book, the recipes and attendant stories are a snapshot of Paso Robles – there are recipes from pioneer families; local farmers, volunteers, policemen and firefighters; home chefs,  cowboys, and even a recently transplanted national cookbook author. The fictional mascot of the  Pioneer Museum, Festus Culpepper, took the time to submit his (sometimes questionable) favorites, as well, giving an interesting look into the culinary habits of Roblans past. (Basic Bar Beef, anyone?)

One bonus to this cookbook is that a handful of local wineries and restaurants generously gave up their own secret recipes, including Dusi’s Minestrone Soup, Gary Eberle’s Paella, Il Cortile’s incredible Osso Buco and Robert’s Crispy Pork Belly. You could easily put together an entire menu, soup to nuts, with the contents of this cookbook and impress your friends and family with your culinary prowess and insight into local history at the same time.

Any unused funds generated on behalf of the 125th Anniversary Celebration will be directed to the Pioneer Day Committee, Paso Robles Historical Society, and the Pioneer Museum to support their valued missions of preserving and celebrating the history of Paso Robles.

If you would like to support the cause and purchase the cookbook, they can be had for $15 each and can be found at Paso Robles Pioneer Museum, the El Paso de Robles Historical SocietyPaso Robles Downtown Main Street Association, the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of the Library gift shop!