Santa Maria: More than the Michael Jackson Trial The town of Santa Maria, Calif., has more to offer than just the Michael Jackson trial. Ryan Miller, editor of the Santa Maria Sun describes the town's big rodeo, its centennial anniversary celebrations and the annual beard-growing competition.
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Santa Maria: More than the Michael Jackson Trial

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Santa Maria: More than the Michael Jackson Trial

Santa Maria: More than the Michael Jackson Trial

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Next, we'd like to bring you up to date on the news from Santa Maria, California. You may have heard of that city, population 89,000. It's where a certain pop star has been on trial which made Santa Maria the scene of a media circus for months. We've wondered if that media crowd might be undercovering other developments in Santa Maria, so we have contacted Ryan Miller who is editor of the Santa Maria Sun, a newspaper there, to learn what else is going on.

Good morning.

Mr. RYAN MILLER (Editor, Santa Maria Sun): Good morning.

INSKEEP: So while the media has been focusing on this Michael Jackson thing, what else has been going on in town?

Mr. MILLER: Well, one of the big things is our centennial. We incorporated as a city on September 12th, 1905, so that date's coming up, and we've kind of been celebrating all year our hundred-year birthday for the city. There's been opening of a time capsule, plays, all sorts of events going on for that. That's been kind of fun, but we're gearing up for that one, so that's a big one on its way.

INSKEEP: What kind of a town is Santa Maria?

Mr. MILLER: Well, a lot of people say it's a sleepy town, but I don't think so. It's a really tight-knit community. It's one that's very interested in history. We have--everything is the 114th Annual County Fair, the 62nd Annual Rodeo. Everyone really makes sure to play that up.

INSKEEP: When's the rodeo?

Mr. MILLER: The rodeo was just this last weekend. It was the second through the fifth of June, and that was a lot of fun. There's a big parade, and there's an annual beard-growing contest as well, which I've been a part of in the past and you get belt buckles for winning...

INSKEEP: I'm sorry. Excuse me. You were part of the beard-growing contest?

Mr. MILLER: Yes. This was the 46th annual Beard-A-Reno beard growing contest for the Elk's Rodeo, and you start in about February and just grow until late May and see who's got the longest, the biggest, the blackest, the whitest--there's all sorts of different categories.

INSKEEP: Do people ever--are there, like, cheating scandals, people who start growing the beard before February or something like that?

Mr. MILLER: Well, they actually--they make you show up clean-shaven as of a certain date, and they check out your face and make sure you haven't started early. You have to sign a piece of paper. They give you a card, and then you start growing from there. And then at the actual event, they measure it. They jam a metal ruler up into your chin to see how long it is, from the same place on every person, to know they're being fair. For the colored ones, they bring a flashlight and shine it into your beard and look at it up close to make sure you didn't use any dyes. It's a pretty serious and intense judging process, and it's a little painful, too. It kind of hurts.

INSKEEP: All right. Ryan Miller is the editor of the Santa Maria Sun in California. Thanks very much.

Mr. MILLER: Thank you.

INSKEEP: There you have it, some of the other news from Santa Maria.

This is NPR News.

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