Nice Weather Greets Latest Lower State Street Picnic

Scores of residents and passers-by showed up with pot luck or food from nearby eateries for the Sept. 28 Common Table for the Arts on the 500 block of State Street.

The 500 block of State Street was closed the evening of Sept. 28 for the Common Table for the Arts, a periodic roving free event that this time drew scores of residents, passers-by, the mayor, a couple city council members and dozens of local entertainers. 

The periodic event is part of the Walter and Lois Capps Project. Former Congresswomen Lois Capps and her son Todd say there is no agenda behind the events, except to draw neighbors together. 

Folks were urged to being pot luck or buy food from the many lower State Street restaurants and other establishments, which was just what they did to a long table in the middle of the street. 

Local flamenco dancers, guitar players, drummers and poets entertained the come-and-go crowd throughout the evening. 

Similar common tables have been held on the Eastside, Mesa and Carpinteria. The city put on a similar but larger “Experiment Weekend” on State Street, but was greeted with chilly weather. in April. The Sept. 28 event had balmy conditions with a few breezes.

Some lower State Street proprietors say the cold summer was bad for business. However, during some years the last three months of the year can be about the warmest.

What many Saturday night visitors did not get a closer look at were two new attractions farther south on lower State Street. 

The Habitat Home & Garden store at the corner of State and Guitierrez streets just opened Sept. 25 with little fanfare in a venue that has been vacant off and on for years. 

Habitat Home & Garden operates another store in San Luis Obispo. A time and date for the Santa Barbara store will be announced soon. 

Meanwhile, with even less fanfare, the new Santa Barbara Visitor Center, 120 State St., opened earlier month next to the railroad tracks and is in full operation. 

The new center has a more retail-style approach than old Visitor Center on Garden Street and Cabrillo Boulevard, which will remain open for now. The old shop has offered visitors maps, brochures and small souvenirs for many years. 

The new shop, which is about three times the size of the old one, showcases locally curated products from candles to jewelry, to books and clothing. It also has free, one-hour Wi-Fi, phone charging and small video screens to easily look up local attractions.

Posted Sept. 29, 2019.

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