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'Friends of Bates Beach' Avocado Fest booth removed after complaint
No nudity involved: A complaint over minors spinning the nudist booth's prize wheel disrupts the 5-year run of the naturist group's involvement in the Carpinteria Avocado Festival
By any measure, Friday, October 6, was a very successful day for Friends of Bates Beach at its Avocado Festival booth in Carpinteria. Our new location in the high-traffic area brought us many visitors, almost all supportive and enthusiastic about our being there, and we collected nearly 300 names and emails through our raffle.
Then came 7:30 a.m. the following morning. I was awoken by a phone call from the Festival director, informing me that she had received two complaints that we were “soliciting minors” by allowing them to spin our prize wheel. We always asked everyone who walked by—regardless of age—to spin the wheel and win a small prize. We were ready to answer any questions about our beach, as nearly half of our booth visitors were unaware of our existence.
In particular, I learned one unnamed lady complained about me telling a teenage girl, who showed a keen interest in our booth, that I hoped she would give the beach a try in a few years when she grew up. This is the same thing I have told hundreds of visitors over the years. As I said this, I was informed that our booth was removed from the show, our contents were packed up and placed on the sidewalk, can we please come and pick it up? There was no discussion, no explanation allowed, we were just out.
This happened after five years of Friends of Bates Beach being in the Festival, always working our booth the same way, without any complaints. Clearly, these complainers saw what they wanted to see and heard what they wanted to hear, and they strongly disagreed with the subject of us promoting the nearby clothing-optional beach.
Throughout the day we met many enthusiastic visitors, some of whom had visited the beach when they were younger, and we shared happy memories. We also had the pleasure of exchanging greetings with several city council members who stopped by our booth, as well as receiving a visit from Supervisor William's Field Deputy, who expressed his approval of our booth's operation.
But there are always a few complainers who ask out loud why we were allowed to be there. This is a normal occurrence and as a rule, we never engage with them, as their minds are already made up. We didn’t expect a couple of them to take their anger to the next level.
So we missed the last two days of the Avocado Festival. Are we angry at being labeled something we are not? Of course. Unfortunately, there was little we could do about it at the time.
Each year since 2017, we traditionally do an informal survey at our AvoFest booth of our visitors asking their opinion about having an official clothing-optional beach nearby and a second question about top freedom in general.
The results have always been positive, averaging 75% “Yes” most years for the beach, and hovering just under 50% for top freedom.
Although our booth was only up for one day and our total visitor count was about half its normal sample (154 votes this year compared to 234 votes in 2022), the results were much more positive this year.
Results of our two-question survey:
1. Santa Barbara County should designate a section of beach for clothing-optional recreation. The beach should have proper signage so people can decide whether to go there or not.
I agree (Yes) 84%
I do not agree 8%
No opinion 8%
2. Women should be allowed to be top-free wherever men are allowed to do so.
I agree (Yes) 56%
The results showed a remarkable increase in the “Yes” vote after 5:30 PM, where the mostly younger “date night” crowd voted 93% “Yes” for the clothing-optional beach and 70% Yes on the Top Freedom question.
So even though we were only there for one day, the amount of local community support is very gratifying. Perhaps that is why the two Karens felt compelled to shut us down? 🪐
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