I was calmly chauffeured back to my car by a man in striped MC Hammer pants, in a boat that was actually not much more than a children’s tent sewn and painted to look like a shark.
Thus ended my day at Petaluma’s Rivertown Revival last year, and at that point my situation seemed fairly mundane compared to the surrealism of the previous eight hours. The Rivertown Revival, a full-blown festival at what was a deserted section of the Petaluma river, is a free event helping the town’s unofficial mission to “keep Petaluma egg-centric.” Guests, encouraged to dress in a mashup of American West and Victorian garb, enjoy live bands, local food vendors, arts and crafts, circus acts, live art performances and, of course, a drag Art Boat racing contest with dozens of vessels designed equally for speed and silliness.
A new addition this year to the Rivertown Revival are $5 weddings. Perhaps the greatest service offered, however, is the ability to inhabit a deserted piece of land and turn it into something wonderful. The grounds for the Rivertown Revival—equipped with overgrown weeds, a beached steel boat and an abandoned Ghirardelli building—have become a landmark of quirky, Petaluman beauty rather than an eyesore. Indeed, that’s something to celebrate.
The second annual Rivertown Revival goes off on Saturday, July 30, on the McNear Penninsula, Petaluma. 11am-7pm. Free. www.rivertownrevival.com.