3-day Fiesta Hermosa closes out summer over Labor Day holiday

Twice a year, downtown Hermosa Beach swarms with artists, tribute bands, pop-up merchants, a charity beer and wine garden, a petting zoo, unique food vendors, and carnival games and rides while 100,000 tourists and locals celebrate at the annual summer ritual known as Fiesta Hermosa.

Now in its 42nd year, the arts-and-crafts Goliath has grown to be the primary fundraiser for the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, which produces an active calendar of holiday festivals, ribbon cuttings and mixers. The festivals are on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, and the next one kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Though its sponsorship and vendor fees are now huge revenue generators for the nonprofit chamber, the event began as a grass-roots project developed by volunteers — some of whom come back year after year.

“The Hermosa Beach Fiesta was first started back in 1972 by a group of hard-working chamber member volunteers,” said Maureen Hunt, the chamber’s president. “Through their generous contribution of time and energy, Fiesta Hermosa has evolved into what it is today.”

Warren and Peggy Barr are two of those long-time volunteers. Warren began volunteering as a member of the chamber in the 1980s, and Peggy, his wife, joined him about a decade later.

“I didn’t really ‘decide’ to volunteer,” Peggy Barr joked. “I just kind of inherited it when I got married.”

But Peggy has no regrets about the deal. They’ve volunteered in just about every capacity, from running the information booth to judging the artists. When Warren Barr began, he drove the rented shuttle buses, among other odd jobs. (“One of my personal favorite jobs!,” he said of being a driver.)

These days, event managers handle more of the production and the shuttle buses are driven by professional drivers. But there are still plenty of opportunities for volunteers to help out.

The festival will take over the area around Hermosa and Pier avenues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This year, chamber officials promise to have more local food vendors, a Ferris wheel and other new carnival games and rides.

As usual, the event will offer hundreds of arts and crafts vendors, live musical performances from tribute bands of various genres, a food court, and a beer and wine garden staffed by 315 volunteers representing various nonprofit organizations that will share in the fiesta’s proceeds.

A cadre of 40 additional volunteers will staff the information booth and judge various contests throughout the weekend.

“One of the great aspects of Fiesta Hermosa is the opportunity it provides for friends to get together and catch up, while raising money for their organizations that help enrich our Hermosa Beach community at the same time,” Hunt said.

In the Barr family, volunteering at Fiesta Hermosa is a way for them to spend the weekend together and catch up with neighbors and good friends, and they both look forward to it every year.

Warren thinks it’s important for a large event to have local volunteers.

“If you don’t have local people involved in this, it’s just not a personal event,” Warren said. “I think the volunteers put the local face on it.”

Peggy agreed.

“You’re involved with your community, and the community’s involved with the businesses and the residences and everything. It’s important for a small town to be connected,” Peggy said. “The more volunteers they have, the more money gets put back into the community.”

Shuttle bus service will run from the Northrop Grumman lot at 30 Space Park Drive in Redondo Beach, and load and unload at 10th Street and Hermosa Avenue. Valet bike service will be available at Hermosa Cyclery just south of the Hermosa Beach Pier.

For additional information, visit fiestahermosa.net.