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SlugFest returns after a decade's hiatus

By Bruce Bratton

ONCE UPON a time, Santa Cruz didn't have any UCSC. It was a quiet, dull town with only a few tourists coming here from valley towns to go to the Boardwalk in the morning -- and leave later on that same day. UCSC changed all that. Students moved in almost the very week that the tourists stopped coming -- and left when summer started up again.

In the early years, only a few downtown businesses saw the advantages of having a younger, hipper clientele, that also spent lots of money here. They'd put up a few "Welcome Students" signs in their windows on Pacific Avenue, and that was about it. The Chamber of Commerce did a little better in getting up signs in those businesses that really welcomed student business, but it was still no big deal.

The original proponents of having UCSC locate here promised the good-old-boys club big-time collegiate football, with possibly a stadium and exciting sports of all kinds. It didn't work out that way. The good old boys never anticipated that college students in Santa Cruz would be like college students anywhere: they'd act and vote liberal and change the politics of this quiet beach town forever. That resentment against "the student vote" is still heard every time we have an election.

Back somewhere in the early '80s, Neal Coonerty, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz and about to be Mayor of Santa Cruz, decided to create a real Welcome Students party, for not just UCSC but for Cabrilho College and the high school students who were coming downtown in increasing numbers. SlugFest as a celebration lasted until the earthquake of '89.

Neal convinced me to get involved, and together we towed in two flatbed trucks for stages on the Gateways Books parking lot, and with Catherine Daniels organizing the food booths, we had an enormously successful annual event. We hired bands such as Camper Van Beethoven, which played its heart out while crowds of more than 1,000 danced like crazy from around 6 to 10pm. Everybody behaved themselves, and we had a great time. While bands were doing sound checks, Neal and I would shout out questions about Santa Cruz County history and award CDs, T-shirts, posters and gift certificates for anything near the correct answer.

This year's reincarnation of the SlugFest should have that same feeling. Now that the focus is on South Pacific businesses, the event is being held in the daytime. The UCSC campus has grown, Cabrilho College is still having its campus face-lifted and we've got more people here than anybody ever planned on. Check out what's been happening south of Cathcart; it's a vibrant reflection of the new Santa Cruz and also a reflection of the care and dedication that a number of businesses have shown in celebrating the college students in our small community and the positive effects they have on all our lives.

SlugFest '01

SlugFest takes place Saturday (Sept. 29), around Pacific Avenue at Maple Street, Santa Cruz. (Full Disclosure: Metro Santa Cruz is one of the sponsors of SlugFest.)

Main Stage

Noon: Here Kitty Kitty
1pm: Comets on Fire
2pm: Soba
3pm: Lost Kids
4pm: Netwerk: Electric
5pm: The Chop Tops

Second Stage

12:40pm: Fashion Show, with Lucas Carter and DJ Travis
1:40pm: Bujinkan Budo/Taijitsu/Ninjitsu Martial Arts
2:40pm: Motion Pacific Dance Performance
3:40pm: The Silk Road School of Sword and Self-Defense
4:40pm: Fashion Show, with Lucas Carter and DJ Travis


Only in Santa Cruz: A modest celebration of municipal self-love.

South Pacific Rim: SlugFest returns after a decade's hiatus.

Lend a Hand: Reaching out after 9-11.

Find the Right Roommate: Home is where housemates are.

Make Your Head Glow: Sage advice for neon locks.

Make Your Trash Bloom: Worms can make the most out of compost.

Cheap Eats: A food critic's guide to budget meals for students and people with student budgets.

Stop the Viagra Ads, Please! Putting the Kibosh on spam.


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From the September 26-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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