Western Weekend canceled due to coronavirus, but a grand marshal is chosen

05/06/2020

Western Weekend, an annual celebration of life in West Marin, will not take place in 2020. The organizers of the event, which was scheduled for the first weekend in June, this week announced it is canceled. It would have been the 71st anniversary. “I think it’s sad, but that’s the nature of the beast,” said Loretta Murphy, who sits on the event’s coordinating committee as a representative of Sacred Heart Church. She added, “This community has gone through a lot of changes, and Western Weekend is what brings us back to the roots of Point Reyes, the ranching community, the western traditions of this area.” The organizers include a host of other local groups, including KWMR, the West Marin Commons, Toby’s Feed Barn, the West Marin Lions Club, the Marin County Farm Bureau, West Marin Community Services and the West Marin Rotary Club. Many local businesses and groups contribute to the event, which typically draws thousands from the coast and elsewhere and takes over downtown Point Reyes Station for two days. The organizing committee had started planning in January. “We tried to figure out if there was something we could salvage,” said Rhonda Kutter, the chair of the committee. “It’s disappointing we have to cancel it, but it’s really not [possible] to have big groups of people together at this time.” Among the interrupted traditions is the relatively new contest for a junior grand marshal, a title that replaced the Western Weekend queen and comes with a cash scholarship and a coronation at the Saturday night barn dance. The Lions Club did select a grand marshal, parade be damned: Dolores Gonzales, a longtime community member and an aide with the Shoreline Unified School District. Lions Club co-president Angelo Sacheli said Ms. Gonzales was a clear choice. “She is like a second mother to the kids [she works with]. She has been instrumental in bridging the Latino and Angelo communities,” he said. Ms. Gonzales will be honored this year and next, when she will preside over the Sunday parade. The historic celebration, with its 4-H demonstrations, barbecues, live music and a chili cook-off, has become an important chance for Anglo and Latino communities to celebrate together. Since 2015, West Marin Community Services has helped to organize Latino-centric events, where tacos, pozole and cold drinks are sold. The money they generate—last year it was $5,000—goes to Sacred Heart. “A lot of people—members of the community, the businesses—working together is what makes this event successful,” organizer Gilberto Rodriguez said. “I always look forward to it.”