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GOINGS ON SANTA BARBARA : Botanic Garden : Mission Canyon site will celebrate its 65th anniversary with a show of art inspired there.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Legend has it that the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden might never have been established were it not for a little outing in a meadow back in the 1920s.

“There’s a famous story, I don’t know how true it is, that Mrs. (Anna Dorinda Blaksley) Bliss had come to this area of Mission Canyon for a picnic, saw surveyor’s stakes and was told that the area was going to be developed. And she became alarmed,” garden historian Mary Allcott said. “That’s why she bought it.”

And a wise purchase it was.

The garden will celebrate its 65th anniversary Saturday with an art show and sale called “Art Inspired by the Garden.” Thirty-four Santa Barbara artists will bring work they have done on some aspect of the garden and California flora.

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By the look of things, the garden has inspired more than just artists. It started as a 15-acre parcel and with the support of the public it has grown to its current 65 acres.

The art event is the first large-scale fund-raiser in the garden’s history. There will be live music, wine and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $50 each. For more information, call 682-4726.

Speaking of 65th anniversaries, versatile entertainer Donald O’Connor is celebrating one himself. The 66-year-old O’Connor will kick off a tour celebrating 65 years in show business with a performance at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara on Friday night.

The Arlington appearance was a last-minute addition to the schedule. Comedian Hank Garcia and singer Lisa Donovan are also scheduled to appear. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $27.50. Call 963-9589. The Arlington is located at 1317 State St.

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Admit it, you thought those guys who raced roadsters in the 1950s and 1960s were just goofing off. Well, the 15th annual Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance on Saturday aims to set the record straight, with a special look at California’s influence in car design from 1925-1960.

It’ll feature cars such as the Hirohata ’51 Merc Coupe, the Agajanian-Ruttman (winner of the 1952 Indy 500), the Kurtis Roadster owned by Chris Higers of Ojai, and this year’s Concours cover-car, the Phantom Corsair (co-star of the 1938 film “The Young in Heart.”)

Jack Bianchi, one of the organizers of the show, was one of those young 1950s-'60s teen-agers who would buy 1930s cars, take them apart and rebuild them. That hot-rod style, he said, had a tremendous influence on the cars designed by major manufacturers.

“We didn’t have computers, we didn’t have wind tunnels. We just bolted stuff on and went out with a watch to see how fast we could go,” he said. “The California influence (of the ‘50s and ‘60s) was the sunny weather, the surfboards, the bikinis, that kind of free spirit.” In fact, he said, the 1952 Jaguar XK 120 convertible was built in England with Californians in mind.

Bianchi said the California influence goes back much further, though. Between 1917 and the 1950s, there were 78 car manufacturers in California.

The Concours will be held at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club from 10 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Proceeds will benefit Crane School. Call 969-2667.

The Santa Barbara Symphony will unofficially kick off its 1991-92 season with concerts on Saturday and Sunday. The performances will feature Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Paganini’s Concerto No. 2, with violinist Eugene Fodor. Saturday’s concert will begin at 8 p.m., Sunday’s at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $10.50 to $29.50. For more information season call 965-6596. The official “Gala Opening” concerts are scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20.

Hungry? The Arthritis Foundation will hold its 10th annual “Taste of the Town” fundraiser Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at Riviera Park. About 40 restaurants and 12 wineries from Santa Barbara will be represented. Admission to this taste-bud bonanza is $35 in advance, $40 at the event. Riviera Park is located at 2030 Alameda Padre Serra. Call 687-1592.

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It’s Danish Days time in Solvang. The city has set aside Friday through Sunday for an all-out celebration of the population’s Scandinavian heritage. There will be the traditional Danish breakfast--complete with aebleskive and medisterpolse --a parade, clog dancing, PCPA Theaterfest performances and Danish films, Danish dancing and Danish music. For a complete schedule, call 688-0701. There will be a fee for some of the activities.


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