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Taft Oildorado fueled by community support

Anyone foolhardy enough to question the dedication of the all-volunteer team that brings Taft Oildorado to life only need look to current president Shannon Miller to be proven wrong.

Miller, like the rest of Taft, had planned on celebrating the every-five-years citywide event in 2020 — until the pandemic struck. But her stick-to-itiveness goes even deeper.

While working with the team to plan to move the entire celebration forward a year, she was also in law school, which she graduated in December. She took the bar exam in February and passed, then was sworn in. Yet she still has yet to practice law full time, all in service of Oildorado.

"As the first female president of Oildorado, I took that seriously," Miller said. "I had volunteered for a number of years on the board beforehand and was committed (for 2021)."

"It shows the dedication a lot of our volunteers have had. Some take the month of October off to volunteer."

Over 10 days, the city pays tribute to its roots with a bevy of concerts, contests and other celebratory fun.

"It's a large scale celebration of the city of Taft and our incorporation," Miller said. :These unique events show our appreciation for the oil industry and supporters of our community."

The festivities kick off Friday with the civic luncheon at noon at the Oildorado Event Center, which is a wonder in itself.

Donated by Devinder Singh Bains, who previously operated a Chevrolet dealership there, the building now houses Oildorado headquarters as well as the lounge and official store, which sells everything from T-shirts, koozies and keychains to badges for the Tessie Garratt and Whiskerino contests. (Those badges are purchased to avoid "penalties" in the contests for, respectively, impressive ponytails/hair buns and long beards).

Rock Zierman, CEO of the California Independent Petroleum Association, will serve as keynote speaker at the luncheon expected to also be attended by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, Sen. Shannon Grove, Assemblyman Vince Fong, County Supervisor Zack Scrivner and Taft Mayor Dave Noerr.

Other weekend events include the oil field skills competition being held on Saturday at the Taft Petroleum Club, 450 Petroleum Club Road. Registration is from noon to 2 p.m. for individual competitions including welding, pipe threading and fitting, rod wrenching, backhoe skills and crane operations. Competition starts at 3 p.m.

Sunday brings the Whiskerino, Tessie Garratt and costume contests, all held at Oildorado Headquarters, 501 North St. Miller said some Whiskerino contestants — who normally shave and start growing their beard the January before the October event — have been growing theirs since January 2020 and there is a special category just for them. 

Registration for all three contests will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. with the costume contest at 2:30 p.m., Tessie Garratt at 3:30 p.m. and Whiskerino at 4:15 p.m.

Barbecue tri-tip sandwiches will be available from Roots Eatery and Taft Petroleum Club is running the bar.

Other upcoming events include the Maids of Petroleum Contest on Tuesday; comedy show Agostino Zoida and special guests Daniel Betts, Andrew Boydston and Warren Owens on Wednesday; a country concert with Johnny Owens and special guests The Appletons and Gregor Ross on Oct. 14; a '90s concert with 90s Nation on Oct. 15; the melodrama “Tied to the Tracks” on Oct. 14, 16 and 17; and the Grand Parade and Vintage Aircraft & Warbird Exhibit, both on Oct. 16.

Shootouts between the Sheriff's Posse and the Wooden Nickel Gang (planned to avoid scaring anyone) as well as "kidnappings" and "arrests" of citizens are also on tap.

For full event listings, along with ticket information for some events, visit taftoildorado.com.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.