Sunny skies and the hot temperatures of summer – edging past the 100-degree mark – didn’t seem to slow down the Centennial Celebration, as it came back to downtown Riverbank on Saturday, June 25.
Both a free picnic and car show were staged on city streets for the latest of the celebrations, on Third Street in front of City Hall North and City Hall South, stretching from Topeka to Stanislaus streets.
Tables for serving the free meal were lined up in front of Plaza del Rio Park, along with plenty of tables and chairs in the street, to sit and eat.
During the event, a band called Threshold performed from the stage in the park, under the protection of a couple of pop-up canopies. They performed music from Chicago to Tower of Power ... Motown to Huey Lewis ... Funk to Classic Rock, even a few Big Band tunes from the ‘40s and ‘50s, music to appeal to mostly everyone.
From time to time, a bit of breeze would pick up, and much of the streetscape downtown provided shade. The only drawback was the area designated as a beer garden, in the middle of the park. There are no trees shading that and the ground is covered with concrete.
The picnic was free to the public that included tri-tip sandwiches with a side of potatoes, hot dogs with chips, and bottled water. The tri-tip sandwiches were catered by the food dude, Zachary Fisher, who is Riverbank High School alum.
Organizers also had a few vendors on hand that were selling aguas frescas, corn in a cup with all the fixings, and Central Valley Community Resources, Inc. served up a variety of beers, wine and margaritas.
“The highlight of course were the classic cars from all eras that were on display,” said City Manager Marisela Garcia. “It was an overall great event. I’d say the only challenge we had was the heat. It sure did not let up on us that day.”
A panel of judges evaluated each car entry and selected a first, second, and third place winner as well as having the public vote for the “fan favorite.”
Throughout the day organizers estimated about 400 to 500 people attended the event with the biggest crowd between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The hot dogs were grilled by the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Fighters Local 3399 volunteers with the hot dogs being donated by Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien.
The mayor noted that it was a hot event that had food, fun, and cars.
He said, “What else would you want on a summer outing? While the weather was warm, I think some were confused that the venue was changed. I know several that asked about the location after it ended. Gaby Hernandez and staff did a superb job for this event and the other 100th (celebratory) events.”
The volunteer staff included City staff, City Council members, and Promotoras.
“The turnout was okay for an event with a heat temperature of 103, I think that deterred some people to come out,” stated new City Clerk Gaby Hernandez. “All the volunteers were amazing and their help with set up, food hand out, judges, and tickets and sales is very much appreciated. This event could not have been possible without all their help.”
The city staged a mock jail for those that did not obey the “no dance” ordinance for a fun photo op.
“My favorite standout moments were those when the community would pull out their wallets to pay for the picnic tickets and were so appreciative when we would let them know it was a free event,” added Hernandez. “I received so many compliments from a lot of the car enthusiasts saying “what a nice and well put together event it was” and “why doesn’t Riverbank do this every year.” Those are compliments that make it all worth it.”
The final chapter in the Centennial Celebration is set for Aug. 20, at the Riverbank Community Center, well after the roadwork in front is scheduled to be completed.
Riverbank News reporter Virginia Still and correspondent Ric McGinnis both contributed to this story.