A spirited group of Goleta residents gathered Saturday evening to enjoy good food, neighborly company and natural views during the city’s first-ever Dam Dinner atop the Lake Los Carneros dam.
The sold-out crowd of more than 250 Goleta lovers toasted the Good Land from white tables and chairs, complete with a lakeside sunset scene.
Inspiration for the quirky event came from two special “Love of Goleta” events hosted earlier this year with author Peter Kageyama, who encouraged local attendees to focus less on what money could do to improve quality of life and more on what love for the city and coming together could accomplish.
A free Dam Dinner event for the first 250 people to RSVP — due to the limited venue capacity — was the end product of the discussion.
On Saturday, organizers welcomed anyone who walked through the dinner area, regardless of reservation, and also invited firefighters from the nearby station to join in the celebration.
The number of helpful volunteers seemed to nearly overshadow the number of guests, since so many of the event organizers work for or closely with the city. Members of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Goleta Valley Community Center, the Goleta Valley Senior Center and the Goleta Valley Historical Society were among them.
Some families brought their own dinner to enjoy, while others opted for buying fare from one of two food trucks — Georgia’s Smokehouse and Kamal’s International Cuisine — that guaranteed to donate 15 percent of proceeds back to event organizers.
T-shirts adorned with the phrase “The best Dam Dinner ever” were sold out within the first hour of the gathering.
Upbeat music from the Henderson Brothers played as Goleta lovers came together and celebrated with their beverage of choice.
A group of youths gave free temporary tattoos with the city’s logo to anyone willing to sport the familiar emblem featuring a monarch butterfly.
Valerie Kushnerov, a city spokeswoman and a volunteer organizer of the event, said she was one of many residents who just walked to the dam from her nearby home.
“Our intent would be that this would be an annual thing,” she said. “There’s something about sharing food that brings people together.”