Santa Maria Days "a nice, small-town affair" for Dayton
Pike Street in Dayton’s historic district was the center of the Santa Maria Day celebration Saturday. There was a flag ceremony, parade, mock gunfight, outhouse race, fiddle contest, horseshoe tournament, street dance and 35 vendors’ tents.
Vera Costello watched from the shade on the porch of Mia’s Swiss Restaurant, sipping a snow cone.
“I’m just having fun — I’m not working,” she said.
The retired Dayton resident came out with her sisters, Nora Galvin and Barbara Williams. They watched as the owner of Mia’s — Mia Kuerzi –Eyodeled on the stage next to the porch.
Afterwards Kuerzi stepped back to her barbecuing bratwurst and described the meaning of Santa Maria Day.
It started with Dayton’s Catholic farmers in the 1800’s, she said.
“It has to do with the holy day. Farmers would invite people to their farms and say thank you for their crops.”
Today the celebration is a fund-raiser for the the Do-Mor for Dayton non-profit group which is working to buy the building Mia’s occupies. They want to turn it into a cultural Center.
Mia and Max Kuerzi are offering the building — the historic Odeon Hall — for $675,000.
“She [Mia] gave us 18 months to come up with the money but 18 months is up and we don’t have it yet,” said Do-Mor secretary Camille Meggerson. “We’ve got to go for grant money — It’s not easy to come up with $675,000.”
Her daughter Chelsea Meggerson, 11, joined the effort Saturday by staffing the Do-Mor tent.
“We’re selling straw hats, candies, shirts and buttons,” the red head said.
New buttons, her mother explained, are made by the Do-Mor group every year. Each year the group puts the picture of a Dayton building they want to preserve on the button. This year it’s the Odeon Hall.
“There’s a button for every year since ’74 except 1999 and 2000,” she said.
Next to the Do-Mor tent was a stage where Tony Arlen played songs like “Mr. Bo Jangles” on his guitar. He loaned the instrument to “Guitar Glenn” Lockhart for a performance of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done.”
Riding his skate board in front of the stage with blue lips was 10-year-old Richard Saylor.
“My favorite part (about Santa Maria Day) was the gunfighters,” he said. “It was funny when they threw the dynamite in the outhouse.”
His brother and sister, Marcos, 6, and Brenda, 8, went running after a loose mule on the other end of Pike Street.
Perla Landa, 6, with a missing front tooth and pig tails, and her sister Magda, 10, went too.
Armand Arnett at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8660 tent wasn’t worried about the mule. While other members of his post sold raffle tickets he pondered unchecked growth around Dayton.
“All the developers out here are like leeches,” he said. “We haven’t got the infrastructure to handle it. We could get into a grid lock situation that can’t be rectified.”
Saturday’s event was “a nice, small-town affair,” he said.
Across the street Kathy Aguirre was selling her “greatest snow on earth” snow cones from a trolley.
Santa Maria Day wrapped up with a street dance organized by and benefiting the Dayton Volunteer Fire Department.
Do-Mor for Dayton’s next fund-raiser in their quest to purchase the Odeon Hall is a wine tasting festival on November 15.