83rd Annual Monterey History and Art's La Merienda event to be held on June 7, 2014

Top Quote Celebrate the City of Monterey's 244th birthday with a very special barbecue, mariachis, pinatas and a festive "Californio" party in the historic Memory Garden on Custom House Plaza. La Merienda (Spanish word for picnic) includes great food and entertainment, a procession, and much, much more. End Quote
  • Salinas, CA (1888PressRelease) April 19, 2014 - This community event celebrates the founding of the City of Monterey in June 1770 when Father Junipero Serra and Captain Gaspar de Portola celebrated with a picnic overlooking the Monterey Bay.

    A Very Unique Barbecue!

    La Merienda includes a festive barbecue prepared and served by community leaders and local chefs. It includes a choice of tri tip steak or chicken, salad, beans, garlic bread, followed by dessert, a festively rose adorned cake baked by Layers bakery of Monterey. Unlimited wine, beer, soft drinks and water are inclusive. Cima Collina wines from Hilltop Vineyards' Carmel Valley tasting room will be serving their BOUGET, a Chardonay/Muscat blend, and MERITAGE, a blend of 5 red varietals. Peter B's Brewpub will be serving BLONDE, a light beer and their IPA home brewed dark beer.

    Host a Party Within Our Party!

    Invite friends, don a costume, decorate a table, and have fun at this festive event! Or… just come for the celebration, join a table and make some new friends! To host a table, contact Marge Edgren at 831-372-0776.

    Come one, come all! Join elected officials, military leaders, and local dignitaries at this not-to-be-missed event! Children and grandchildren of attendees 4 to11 years old may celebrate with their very own "La Merienda para los Ninos "held concurrently at the MHAA/Stanton Center, featuring entertainer Juan Sanchez and a full program of activities including participation in the cake ceremony.

    Monterey History & Art Association has hosted this party for the last 83 years and all proceeds go towards supporting Monterey's history and arts programs. Tickets are $55 for MHAA members and $75 for non-members (which includes a first time one-year membership) and $10 for children attending La Merienda para los Ninos. Family packages are also available.

    For further information and to purchase tickets, go to www.museumofmonterey.org or call Carol Todd at (831) 372-4445 or Emily Griffith at (831)233-9585. If you have any questions regarding times, seating or change in meal selection, contact Carol Todd.

    Festivities will include a raffle and live auction. Those wanting to contribute a tax deductible gift certificate, item, or service to the La Merienda raffle or live auction please contact Annamarie Della Sala-Stanton at amdstanton ( @ ) comcast dot net or (831)375-1598 dot Please contact Annamarie to volunteer to work at this fun event!

    At a Glance:

    What: 83rd Annual La Merienda Celebration - City of Monterey's 244th birthday party, is a colorful fiesta barbecue of delicious foods, wine, beer, soft drinks, gallant dons and donas, lovely senoritas, lively music and festive dance.

    When: Saturday, June 7 from 11:15 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

    Where: Memory Garden, 20 Custom House Plaza, Monterey

    Tickets: $55 for Monterey History and Art Association members and $75 for non-members. The non-member price includes a one-year membership to the Monterey History and Art Association and the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center (new members only). Tickets are now available online at www.montereyhistory.org or at the Monterey History and Art Association's office, located above the Museum of Monterey at 5 Custom House Plaza. For more information or table seating, call Carol Todd at 831-372-4445 or Emily Griffith at 831-233-9585 or send a check to La Merienda - MHAA, 5 Custom House Plaza, Monterey, CA 93940. This outstanding event attracts over 500 people. Due to limited space in the Memory Garden, tickets should be purchased by Friday, May 16, 2014.

    Family Ticket Package:
    Monterey History and Art Association is offering a special package to new families interested in Monterey's heritage. A family package for $150 includes a family membership in Monterey History and Art Association and the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center, two adult tickets to La Merienda, and two children's tickets to La Merienda para los Ninos. Children and grandchildren of current members of MHAA/MOM are $10 per child for the celebration.

    Information: For more information about Monterey History and Art Association and the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center, go to www.montereyhistory.org

    About La Merienda
    La Merienda, Monterey's birthday party, is a colorful fiesta barbecue of delicious foods, wine, beer, soft drinks, gallant dons and donas, lovely senoritas, lively music and festive dance. La Merienda (the Spanish term for afternoon picnic or mid-day meal) re-enacts an elegant 18th century fiesta. It celebrates the founding of the town of Monterey on June 3, 1770 when Padre Junípero Serra, father of the California missions, and Captain Gaspar de Portola, a Spanish military leader, joined forces to establish the pueblo of Monterey, California's first Capital. Their meeting also honored the founding of the "Royal Presidio Chapel", which today is known as San Carlos Cathedral. After the ceremonies that day, everyone sat down for a picnic under a large oak tree near their ship, the San Antonio, which rested in the harbor.

    The first modern Merienda was celebrated in 1929, two years before the formation of the Monterey History and Art Association. A ceremony at Colton Hall and a small luncheon at the Memory Garden marked the occasion. It was presided over by Carmel Martin and Harry Greene. The next year, 350 people joined Carmel Martin, who again acted as Master of Ceremonies, in the Memory Garden and once again celebrated Monterey's birthday. The Monterey History and Art Association has celebrated this important early California historic event every year since the Association was established in 1931 (except one year during World War II).

    La Merienda can be described as a "party within a party" with uniquely decorated hosted tables.

    La Favorita/Doncellas/La Duena

    Each year since La Merienda was founded, a local young woman with historic connections to Monterey is chosen as La Favorita, and with her lovely court, reigns over this unique celebration of Monterey's history. Two other young women are selected to serve as her attendants ("Doncellas"). The women who are chosen for these roles, accompanied by a chaperone ("La Duena") can trace their ancestry back through Monterey history many generations. These attractive young women dress in traditional white Spanish gowns and mantillas (scarfs) and greet guests, cut the birthday cake, and hold court at the celebration. 2014 La Merienda Court includes Kaitlyn Williams- La Favorita; Lauren Allen- Doncella; Rosemary "Rose" Russo- Doncella and Edith (Edie) Adams McDonald- Duena. The Cake Bearers will be Nicholas Williams, Brother of Kaitlyn Williams, and David Brown.

    About the event
    The event includes a delicious barbecue and lively entertainment, as well as a huge 75-pound birthday cake beautifully decorated with fresh roses. The cake is carried in by local young men ("cake-bearers"), and is sliced with the sword of Colonel Roger S. Fitch, the first President of the Monterey History and Art Association. This event has been sponsored annually by the Monterey History and Art Association for over 80 years. Members of Monterey History and Art Association serve as voluntary hosts and hostesses in period costumes at colorfully decorated tables. All guests are also welcome to dress in 18th century costume.

    The recipient of Monterey History and Art Association's most prestigious award, the Laura Bride Powers Award, is announced at La Merienda and the recipient in 2013 was Anne Petersen Burk. This award is named after the woman who is credited with conceiving both the idea of the Association and the Merienda celebration, which antedated MHAA's founding. Mrs. Powers was the Curator of the Custom House and First Theater and an ardent student of California history.

    The colorful celebration is held in the Memory Gardens, located near the Custom House Plaza in historic downtown Monterey behind the Portola Plaza Hotel. Festivities begin at 11:15 A. M. with dancing by Juventud Latina Genesis. The doors open to Memory Gardens where the aromas of the delicious barbeque greet the guests. Day-long entertainment includes music by Mariachis and a procession of local and international dignitaries and costumed ladies and gentlemen, reenacting an old tradition. The gaily-decorated tables are hosted by more than 50 MHAA volunteers, who provide hospitality to the guests. After the steak, chicken and bean barbeque (served by another 25 well-known local volunteers) the traditional Merienda birthday cake is paraded around the Garden and then cut and served with much ceremony.

    The La Merienda Barbecue is always served by well-known community members. In past years, La Merienda Barbecue servers have included Peter Coniglio, who coordinates this part of the event, Leon Panetta, Dan Albert, Dan Baldwin, Ted Balestreri, Sr., Teddy Balestreri, Bill Curtis, Marc and Eric DelPiero, Jay Hudson, George Kodama, Nino Palma, Dave Potter, Chris Shake, Carmelo Tringali , Russ Harris, Bert Cutino, Tony Leyva, Bob Masarro, Sal Ferrante, Dino Ferrante and John Lotz. The 2014 La Merienda crew will be determined closer to the event date!

    This year, Hunter Finnell will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Following the barbecue and cake-cutting, entertainment is provided by the always-popular Mike Marotta Jr. Band (with a few special guests).

    Returning this year is a fun Raffle/Live Auction with great prizes from the following, including (more to come):

    Sardine Factory
    Fish Hopper Restaurant
    Portola Plaza Hotel & Spa
    Colton Inn Honeymoon Suite with private spa room
    Tucscon (Green Valley) 1 week stay
    Angie's Boutique
    Dove's Chocolate Basket
    Trader Joe's gift bag
    Carousel Candies
    Alexander Gourmet Gift Crate
    Wine Basket of Monterey County Wines
    Trader Joe's Gift Bag

    Hand Carved Gourd Crafted by Artist Margie Edgren
    2 Framed Oil Paintings
    Cafe Fina
    Old Fisherman's Grotto
    Carousel Candies
    Harbor House
    Paluca Trattoria
    Chris' Fishing Trips Fishing Trip for 2
    Princess Monterey 2 Whale Watching Trips

    La Merienda sponsorships, donations and other services help to defray the cost of this unique not-to-be-missed Monterey celebration. All proceeds above the cost of the Merienda itself go to Monterey History and Art Association's support and maintenance of the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center, Casa Serrano, the Doud House and the Mayo Hayes O'Donnell Library. To become a sponsor or donor, please call Eric Sand, President of the Monterey History & Art Association, at (831) 372-7788 or email eric.sand ( @ ) icloud dot com dot

    La Merienda para los Ninos

    Continuing this year is La Merienda para los Ninos where children between the ages of 4-11 will enjoy their own special La Merienda celebration. Children and grandchildren of La Merienda attendees will gather in the patio of the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center at 11:00 a.m. Parents and grandchildren will register their children before going to La Merienda in the Memory Gardens. Children will enjoy a picnic lunch, early California crafts and games, and a program by bilingual musician and songwriter Juan Sanchez. Under the supervision of Deana Dennes and Susan Siegelman, the children will also go to the Sensory Gardens gate to watch the colorful procession of the La Favorita's Court, the official party, and the mariachis as they enter Memory Gardens. The children will have their very own ceremonial cutting of the 244th birthday cake for the City of Monterey. At 3:00 PM, the children may be picked up by their families.

    Additional food history of Early California
    (Provided by the Monterey Public Library from the book, Early California Hospitality by Ana Packman)

    Ana Packman describes Spanish colonists as typically carrying with them dried meats, beans, corn, and a short while later, the native people introduced them to wild herbs, roots, seeds. But I was unable to find mention of the food served at this early event in 1770 but in The March of Portola by Zoeth Eldredge, she mentions that native people had a few days earlier left meat, fish, and shell fish skewered on downturned arrows near Pt. Pinos. It's probable that other provisions included tortillas and beans.

    Within a decade, the Spanish colonists would have had more variety in the menu. Packman describes La Merienda (The Afternoon Collation) as such, "After the siesta, in mid-afternoon, rested and refreshed, and just before starting out to finish the day's labor, the Californian partook of la merienda, which was a light luncheon of sweets, sweet curd cheese, ripe black olives, wafers, and pastries with cha (the native herb tea), chocolate, or coffee..."

    "Any of the following combinations was served as refreshments: Cha y puchas (Wild herb tea and short cakes), Agua-fresca (Wine, orange blossom or chia and sweetened water), Tostadas (crisp corn wafers), Dulce de membrillo (Quince conserve).

    Packman also describes a Comida de Campo, or picnic dinner, which is a little more akin to the foods that might be had at today's Merienda: Carne asada (fresh meat broiled over embers); Sarsa de tomate y chile verde (Tomato and green chile relish); Frijoles (beans); Dulce de calabaza (candied pumpkins); Emanadas de calabaza, de frijoles, y de carne (pumpkin-filled turnovers, spiced beans, and minced-meat); Tortillas de harina (Wheat-flour tortillas; Vino tinto (red wine).

    About Monterey History and Art Association:
    From its founding in 1931, the Monterey History and Art Association's primary mission has been to help preserve the irreplaceable reminders of Monterey's colorful heritage. Over the past eight decades, the Association has worked closely with the City of Monterey, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other agencies. As a result, more old adobes have been preserved and restored in Monterey than anywhere else in California.

    The Association instituted Monterey's historic landmark program and created the Path of History which guides visitors to historic sites in old Monterey. It possesses extensive collections of furnishings, paintings, photographs, costumes, books, manuscripts, and other artifacts, and is the parent organization of the following Monterey institutions: Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center, Casa Serrano, and the Mayo Hayes O'Donnell Library.

    Monterey History and Art Association has been a guiding force in Monterey's vital historic stewardship. The guarding of Monterey's precious community assets and the preservation and presentation of its historical heritage for future enjoyment has been made possible by citizens who care and give generously of their time and resources.

    The Monterey History and Art Association, which operates the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center, Mayo Hayes O'Donnell Library, Casa Serrano, and Doud House, is the oldest cultural institution on the Monterey Peninsula. It began its work 83 years ago, and is still going strong today as a leader in the preservation of Monterey's artifacts, historic properties, and local art.

    The Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center is dedicated to being a leader in models of history and social studies education and a regional leader in educational programming. The Museum implements an array of education-centered programs including outreach and special events. Programs engage the community in innovative and dynamic ways while providing opportunities for life-long learning. To support these goals, the Museum is committed to the creation of a strong educational program with an infrastructure that supports effective services. They are dedicated to increasing the potential for visual and historic literacy, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Topically, the Museum of Monterey at Stanton Center focuses on the Monterey Region as a community tied to the land and inspires the appreciation for the beauty and complexity of its rich history.

  • FB Icon Twitter Icon In-Icon
Contact Information