Every year, in the weeks before the Pioneer Day parade marches down Spring Street, gatherings of families celebrate the long history of Pioneer Day and the generations of Roblans that pioneered the rolling hills that earned the name The Pass of the Oaks — El Paso de Robles.

One of those gatherings is the annual Pioneer Day Royalty Dinner, where for $50, you can eat a hardy meal and be among the first to celebrate the crowning of the Pioneer Day Queen and deputizing of the Pioneer Day Marshal, as well as the long history that comes with the announcing of the Belle nominees and the crowning of the Belle.

On the patio of the newly remodeled Paso Robles Golf Club, a cool afternoon set the stage for the dinner to introduce Milene Radford as 2019 Pioneer Day Queen and bothers Tom and Larry Moore as that Pioneer Day Marshals. Among a crowded slate of eight Belle nominees, Becca Stroud was chosen to wear the crown as the 2019 Belle.

Introducing the Royalty:

2019 Pioneer Day Queen 
Milene Barlogio Radford

“It is a real honor and privilege to be chosen as the Pioneer Day Queen for 2019,” “A few days after it had soaked in that I would be queen, I told my husband of 59 years ‘I thought royalty had to be old.’ And his response
was … ‘welllll.’”

Milene’s father was the 1983 Pioneer Day Marshal, and Milene attended the Pioneer Day Royalty Dinner wearing the dress her mother wore to Pioneer Day in 1983. It is these details and this history of tradition that deepens the respect for where Paso Robles has come from, lived through, endeavored, persisted, endured, faced, and overcome generation after generation to remain a small town with a middle-America attitude and resilient character.

“My nephew Tim asked if there were any other Pioneer Day queens that poked and tied wires on a hay baler,” “That is something we did on our ranch on what is now Vineyard Drive. Living in the country, there is always things to do and haying season came around every year.”

2019 Pioneer Day co-Marshal
Tom Moore

“Tom is a very good friend of mine, and his mom and dad were my parents very best friends,” Paul Viborg said, introducing the new marshal. “Tom is the reason I got involved in Pioneer Day … he talked me into doing parade lineup — 23 years later, I’m still doing it.”

Tom got up to give a short speech for the dinner party.

“I want to thank the Pioneer Day Committee and Paso Robles for allowing me to be marshal,” “I have a lot of family here.”

Tom introduced a dozen offspring and siblings, then passed the microphone to Larry.

2019 Pioneer Day co-Marshal
Larry Moore

“It is a real honor to stand here with so many men I have known in the area,” Larry said. “I am just proud and elated to be here. I’m proud to be a Bearcat. I’m proud to be a Roblan.”

When the cheers subsided, Larry finished with a nod to his strong family ties.

“Any time someone has a good family and a good life, he usually has a good woman behind him,” Larry said, turning and acknowledging his wife at the royalty table.

“I’m very proud of my brothers and sisters,” Larry said, “and I’m even prouder of my parents. Someone asked me who my hero was, and I had to say my dad … my father.”

The royalty were given the customary gifts, with the queen given an annual journal from the Daughters of the American West, and the marshals given an address book from the Paso Robles Rotary Club.

The Pioneer Day Belle nominees were introduced next, with each delivering a biography of local history for qualification. 

“These girls are Belle nominees,” “They need to be at least 17 years old and seniors in high school. They need to come from ‘pioneer families’ or have been in the community for a long time and contributed to the community. It is not a beauty contest or who’s been here the longest. They are all beautiful. The areas are rotated through the years so it is fair about how we choose the Belle.”

The Belle nominees were Abigail Avery, Shelby Degnan, Nevaeh Hinton, Kayla Hurl, Emily Oetting, Halle Nash, Tatiana, Smeltzer, and Becca Stroud. Of the nominees, Becca Stroud was chosen by the rotating system to wear the crown for 2019 Pioneer Day Belle.

In our annual Pioneer Day issue, full biographies and interviews will be published for each of the members of the 2019 Pioneer Day Royalty and Belle nominees.

For more information about Pioneer Day, go to pasoroblespioneerday.org.