From cutting pipes to building floats, Aera Energy employees joined the Taft community in preparing for its Oildorado celebration. The event, held every five years, started Oct. 8 and ran for 10 days.
An Aera Energy float rolled through streets for Taft Oildorado’s Grand Parade for the first time in the history of the event on Oct. 16, and Aera Energy employees proudly waved to their families, friends and neighbors along the parade route.
“Two of our key operating assets are within miles of the community of Taft,” said Brent Ilott, vice president of operations for Aera-Belridge, who helped with the planning process. “A lot of our employees are from Taft, have raised their families here, and feel incredibly proud to support and celebrate the rich heritage of their community.”
Aera’s float themed “Future of Energy,” featured two energy turbines, and a mini pumping unit with solar panels on each side. The decorations were surrounded by grass and California’s state flower – the poppy. What employees never expected, was for the Aera float to take home the Grand Parade’s “Sweepstakes Award,” a best overall float award for the parade. It was an incredibly proud moment for all – especially for those who have long been connected to the Taft community.
Brian Jameson, a process specialist at Aera-Midway Sunset, recalls riding his dirt bike through the backroads of Taft to join his family at various Oildorado events as a child. At the 1990 Oildorado celebration, Jameson entered and won a welding event as part of an Oilfield Skills Competition. For the past three Oildorado celebrations, Jameson has cut the pipe at its “pipe-cutting ceremony,” to officially mark the opening of the Oildorado Store and headquarters.
“I grew up in Taft and the oil industry,” said Jameson, who still lives in Taft today. “My first job out of high school was in the oil industry and I’ve been in the industry for 39 years now. Most of the people that live here either work in agriculture or oil, so oil is very important to Taft. It is who we are.”
Ed Patterson, who recently moved back to Bakersfield after a stint as manager of operations at Aera-Coalinga, fondly recalls walking out his front door as a child to watch the start of the Grand Parade. He was thrilled to attend Oildorado with his family, for the first time in many years.
“It’s really a proud thing for me, starting out as the guy holding a pipe wrench and now returning to this community as an operations manager for Aera-Midway Sunset,” said Patterson. “It’s really a fluid moment to support the industry that has truly blessed me and my family.”
Oildorado is held every five years and was originally scheduled for October 2020 but was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone’s searching for something normal – anything normal – so we can briefly forget about what has been going on in the world. It’s huge for our community and our industry for the event to go on,” said Ilott.