Old Town

Thom Taft (not pictured) calls Founders Day a welcoming event: “We reach out to everyone, all the different groups, churches, schools, nonprofits.”

Older cities often celebrate their origins with a festival. Monterey’s La Merienda in June will mark the city’s 249th year, while Pacific Grove has its throwback Good Old Days. But it wasn’t until about six years ago that folks in Salinas – from the Historic Harvey House, the City Historic Resources Board and elsewhere – decided that their city, the most populous in the county, should mark its birthday.

Last year marked Salinas’ 150th, so the celebration was a blowout that drew 10,000 people. This year’s festival, dubbed “Love where you live – history and environment,” is no slouch.

The epicenter is the Salinas Police Activities League building (formerly known as the Armory) and nearby streets and City Hall, with a free shuttle to satellite sites at the Amtrak train station.

Between the two locations, they’ll have about 90 food, nonprofit and arts and craft vendors, a blessing by Louise Ramirez of the Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation, films about Salinas and California history, indoor and outdoor entertainment from Monterey County Pops!, Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, Flat Rock Boys band and others, an art and science exhibit at the CSUMB Salinas Center for Art and Culture, historical reenactors, fun kids stuff including the MyMuseum Wheelie Mobilee, and speeches.

“We tried to throw everything in,” says Thom Taft, director of finance for the Founders Day Committee.

Like pony rides, a roaming bingo game, free movie tickets to Maya Cinemas, environmental talks. Carol McKibben, who’s been commissioned by the city to compile a history of Salinas, will speak, so that all the fun and hoopla doesn’t obscure one of the main reasons for the festival – to keep Salinas history alive and present.

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