Bill Soberanes Day was celebrated on October 7, 1988 to honor the many community contributions and promotions “Mr. Petaluma” made over the years. When Bill died on June 2, 2003 at age 81, the Petaluma City Council issued a proclamation declaring October (his birth month) as “Bill Soberanes Month.”
The question, “When was the first Whiskerino Contest in Petaluma held?” has been raised. It is known that such contests in the 1930s and 1940s were common elsewhere in the country at Harvest Fairs and local historical events. Although the exact date for Petaluma’s first contest has not been confirmed with printed documentation, it is believed to be one of the Petaluma Centennial Celebration activities held at Old Adobe Park in 1958.
According to an Argus-Courier editorial (6-18-2003), Bill Soberanes “started the Whiskerino contest at the annual Old Adobe Fiesta.” In 1958, Bill was one of the Directors for the Petaluma Centennial Celebration Corporation and a member of the Brothers of the Brush Committee.
The Petaluma Whiskerino Contest was revived by the Argus-Courier and held in Walnut Park, in conjunction with the and the Petaluma Farmers Market in 2003, and continues to this day under the leadership of Fred and Melissa Abercrombie.
Next Saturday, October 5th., the 2013 contest will be held at the historic Phoenix Theater at 2:00 p.m.. If any reader has memories of earlier Whiskerino Contests in Petaluma, please feel free to post your comments, below.
Stay tuned for more interesting stories about our favorite River Town.