New, Permanent Exhibits Document Dunes Ecosystem and Local History

GUADALUPE, CA— Come one, come all to “Gin and Jazz,” a festive summertime 1920s-style shindig and fundraiser celebrating newly expanded permanent exhibits at The Dunes Center, an educational visitor center related to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes preserve located in Santa Maria Valley.

Happening on July 30 at The Dunes Center (1065 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the event will feature toe-tapping melodies performed by The Crustacea Jazz Band as well as a no-host bar with 1920s-themed craft cocktails and other libations from local breweries, distilleries and wineries. Guests will also enjoy hors d’oeuvres by The Far Western Tavern and a live auction to help fund future Dunes Center activities. Tickets may be purchased through www.dunescenter.org.

“The Dunes Center is extremely excited to unveil new exhibits that were 17 years in the making,” said Doug Jenzen, executive director of The Dunes Center.

He explained that a large oversized cabinet of curiosities reflecting the colorful mosaic of history and habitats that make up the local dunes will greet visitors as they enter the newly revamped museum. Educational exhibits on sand dunes; flora and fauna; and oversized photographs and information about artifacts left in the dunes after Cecil B. DeMille filmed The Ten Commandments in the area in 1923, will also be featured. For the first time, The Dunes Center will also highlight local families who have left their mark on the area’s agricultural industry, following their legacy of farming and dairy work that took place near Oso Flaco Lake in the early 20th century.

“The event truly represents a pivotal moment for The Dunes Center, Guadalupe and the Central Coast,” Jenzen said. “Besides revealing new exhibits in our current building, we’re also going to unveil the initial architectural overhaul plans for a building that was donated to us.” Jenzen explained that a large building long inhabited by the famed Far Western Tavern restaurant was donated to The Dunes Center last year. Said Jenzen, “Thanks to generous funding from ERG Operating Company, a local oil and natural gas operator, the building will be refurbished and called the ‘Clarence and Rosalie Minetti Building,’ named after the Far Western Tavern’s original proprietors. When we move into the building in about five years, it will make us one of the largest museums on the Central Coast.”

He added that money raised at the party’s live auction will support the continued excavation of the enormous five-ton, plaster-of-Paris sphinxes and other artifacts left in the sand dunes from the 1923 filming of The Ten Commandments. “We hope to have a completed sphinx from the movie set by the time that we move into the new building,” Jenzen said.

He added that many groups in the community have made projects at The Dunes Center possible, including The California State Coastal Conservancy; the County of Santa Barbara; the Santa Barbara Foundation; the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, and many other generous local foundations and individuals.

“The new exhibits are designed to pique visitors’ curiosity and instill an appreciation for the Dunes as an exquisite web of natural forces,” Jenzen said. “Our wish is for visitors to leave with a deeper awareness of and connection to this unique coastal preserve.”

The Dunes Center is a natural history museum in the heart of Guadalupe, CA that works to conserve the unique ecosystem of the local dunes through education, research, and cooperative stewardship. Well known for its display of artifacts from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1923 The Ten Commandments, the Dunes Center also offers a variety of guided community hikes, classroom education programs, and nature field trips that focus on the history of the area, as well as local flora and fauna. For more information, visit www.dunescenter.org.

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Serving the greater Santa Maria Valley in the heart of California’s Central Coast, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau is a nonprofit association that facilitates local tourism and provides information on the region’s many attractions and visitor services. Famed for its wines, natural wonders, agricultural heritage and flavorful barbecue, the Santa Maria Valley offers fine a broad range of cultural, sporting and historical experiences. For details on Santa Maria Valley lodging, wine tasting, travel deals and e-newsletter alerts, visit santamariavisitor.com or call (800) 331-3779.