Director of the Visitor and Convention Bureau Gina Kenough speaks about tourism efforts in the Santa Maria Valley.
Director of the Visitor and Convention Bureau Gina Kenough speaks about tourism
efforts in the Santa Maria Valley.

One of the great things about marketing the Santa Maria Valley, is our ability to host special events pretty much year-round, due to our mild temps, great variety of event venues and service providers.

The Special Projects Grant program exists to provide marketing support and complimentary services for event planners choosing Santa Maria as their host city. The following listings will give you an idea of the prestige these events hold and the impressive amount of overnights they bring, which contribute to our city’s economy, touching every hotel, restaurant, attraction, gas station, retail store and service providers at every level. The dates included will serve as notice for the events, so you can plan accordingly, should extra employee coverage be a necessity.

Additionally, sponsorships are always needed for these events. If you would like to explore promotion for yourself or your business through sponsorship, please call us for information, at (805) 925-2403.

This year, we are happy to announce the grant recipients for the May 2016 cycle:
Central Coast Tennis hosted the Santa Maria Junior Grand Prix Tennis Tournament on July 2-4. This event is rated one of the top junior tournaments on the Central Coast, bringing in over 150 junior tennis players and their families into Santa Maria for three full days! The Grand Prix is sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association and is part of a series of junior tennis tournaments held throughout the state during the summer months.

The Santa Maria Swim Club hosted the Long Course Coastal Championship Swim Meet on July 15-17. The Club and its volunteer parents do an incredible job, under the leadership of Coach Mike Ashmore, in offering weekend-long events for athletes hosted at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center. This group, which includes athletes and their families, brings not only overnights for the weekend, but they also visit family friendly attractions and restaurants while here.

The Tailwinds Bicycle Club of Santa Maria hosted its Windmill Century on July 16. This well attended Quarter Century, Metric Century and Full Century bike ride, caps at 500 participants, attracting cyclists from all over the state of California and from out of state, too, including Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Florida and Hawaii, necessitating overnight stays and enjoyment of the Santa Maria Style Barbecue and our local attractions. Diana Cantero and her club are incredible ambassadors for the Santa Maria Valley, and for sure, her graciousness is a big reason people come back for this ride, year after year.

Central Coast Tennis will host its Santa Maria Open Tennis Tournament, Sept. 3-5. One of Southern California’s most popular open level tennis tournaments, this event has international flair, bringing in more than 165 men, women and higher junior players from all over the world! This is a USTA sanctioned tennis tournament that offers $25,000 in prize moneys in the divisions.

The Santa Maria Chapter of the Model A’s Ford Club will host its 14th Annual Santa Maria All Ford Car Show & Swap Meet in Old Town Orcutt on Sept. 10. Ronald Wilkins, Jay McCord, and their fellow club members bring their beautifully restored Ford A’s to Old Town Orcutt to celebrate and appreciate these antique vehicles and lasting friendships. The Ford A’s is a member of the Model A Ford Club of America. The show will feature 1903 to current models. The Club raises funds for scholarships for students in the Industrial Technology Department at Allan Hancock College. Last year, 10 scholarships distributed $8,000 to deserving students. This type of event is a real life changer and gives opportunity where it sometimes does not exist.

The Cruzin’ for Life organization presents its annual Cruzin’ for Life Car Show & Cruise on Sept. 16-17, at the Santa Maria Fairpark. This popular car show and Friday Night cruise is promoted in our target areas of Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco as well as towns and cities within driving distance, for this two-day event which benefits our local Marian Cancer Care Center, Mission Hope; American Cancer Society Road to Recovery Program and the Tops for Tots to Teens Program; and the Make A Wish Foundation Tri-Counties.

The Santa Maria Swim Club will host its October Short Course Opener on Oct. 7-9, at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center. The Club and its volunteer parents do an incredible job under the leadership of Coach Mike Ashmore, in offering weekend-long events for athletes hosted at the Paul Nelson Aquatic Center. This group of 450-550 athletes, hail from local towns and cities as well as our target markets of Bakersfield, Clovis, Fresno, Las Vegas, Pleasant Valley, and the LA area. Athletes and their families stay overnight and also enjoy mini vacations, exploring family friendly attractions and enjoying our beautiful weather.

If your organization or club is a member in good standing of the Chamber of Commerce, and is hosting an event that brings in overnight visitors – we want to talk to you about Special Projects Grant sponsorships and complimentary services that will save you time and money! We’d love to work with you in bringing business home! Please contact me at or call (805) 925-2403, ext. 814. Our office is located at 614 S. Broadway, Santa Maria – please stop in anytime. We’re open Monday-Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Gina Keough is the Director of the Visitor and Convention Bureau. She has worked for the Chamber since August of 1999, and is responsible for overseeing all the tourism programs the Chamber offers. Gina is also responsible for supporting group tour operators, meeting planners, and special event coordinators in ensuring their visits to Santa Maria are successful.