Tuesday, May 24 , 2016, 9:31 pm | Mostly Cloudy 58º

Goleta Returns for Seconds at City’s Now-Annual Dam Dinner at Lake Los Carneros

At tables stretching for 200 yards, newcomers and old-timers alike feast on barbecue, community and a sense of place

Goleta residents gather for barbecue chicken and sandwiches Saturday at the city’s second annual Goleta Dam Dinner overlooking Lake Los Carneros. Click to view larger
Goleta residents gather for barbecue chicken and sandwiches Saturday at the city’s second annual Goleta Dam Dinner overlooking Lake Los Carneros. (Shaun Kahmann / Noozhawk photo)

By Shaun Kahmann, Noozhawk Intern |

The Second Annual Dam Dinner brought the Goleta family together Saturday for barbecue and music along Lake Los Carneros.

Neighbors, friends and family dined on barbecue chicken and sandwiches from Georgia’s Smokehouse, shared homemade desserts and enjoyed a performance by local band The Goodland, at a gathering overlooking the lake. Nearly 500 people attended the Dam Dinner, which ran from 5 to 7 p.m. and served as a magnet for locals to reconnect with the rest of their community.

The event was sponsored by the City of Goleta, the Goleta Valley Historical Society and the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Interim Public Works director Rosemarie Gaglione said the Dam Dinner is an inspiring chance for the community to share a meal together.

“I love that we have this fantastic resource here,” she told Noozhawk. “It’s an opportunity for anyone who wants to come out, have a meal, a glass of wine and talk to each other and enjoy this beautiful place.”

The idea for the dinner sprang from “Love of Goleta,” a 2013 workshop at which some 150 members of the community came together to talk about how to encapsulate what makes Goleta unique, said Valerie Kushnerov, the city’s public information officer . The Dam Dinner was designed to bring out the city’s sense of family.

“We wanted to foster a friendly communal environment where locals can come together and meet new people,” Kushnerov said. “I hope people come and get a great sense for why Goleta is such a great place to live.”

As locals slowly filed in to take their seats, Diane and Bert Haley prepared a table for themselves and 11 other family members, including their adult children and grandkids. The couple came to last year’s dam dinner and loved it so much they said they plan to attend every year. Diane said she liked the sense of comaraderie she gets from the event, while Bert said he was particularly amused by how children use the opportunity to make liberal use of the word “dam.”

“Everybody, including the kids joke around using the word ‘dam,’ saying things like, ‘Hey, we should hurry and eat this dam dinner!’” he said with a laugh. “It’s the only time the kids can get away with it.”

Stretching nearly 200 yards along the road above the lake, up to 60 tables and 350 chairs accommodated a rotating roster of guests.

The dam itself was built by Edgar Stow as part of the original ranch and the road itself once served as a driveway entrance to the Stow House.

Dacia Harwood, event coordinator for the Goleta Valley Historical Society, said the location has tremendous value to Goleta’s history and makes for an ideal place for locals to connect.

“We want to reintroduce people to Goleta’s history, and this grassroots dinner is a great way to do that,” she said.

Click here for more information about the Goleta Dam Dinner.

— Noozhawk intern Shaun Kahmann can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk,@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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