Summer Guide To Sonoma County Events

Summer Splendor

Our annual guide to the season’s hot delights

By Shelley Lawrence and Patrick Sullivan

SUMMER SEEMS so simple. Break out the swimsuit and the flip-flops, keep the fridge fully stocked with frosty little cans of whatever, and remember to put on some sunscreen as you move from the barbecue to the beach and back again. But face facts: Our busy little county is going all out to offer you a million and one different ways to celebrate the last summer of the century, and you need a plan. That’s where we come in. Below you’ll find the Sonoma County Independent‘s selective guide to the best in local fun, from music festivals to baseball games to outdoor evenings at the movies. After all, you can’t spend three whole months reading trashy novels on the beach. Or maybe you can, but isn’t it nice to know you have options?


Farmers’ Markets Get to know local growers and grope their produce at markets all over the county. Santa Rosa: Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8:30 a.m. to noon (Veterans Bldg., 1351 Maple Ave.; 523-0962). Sonoma: Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon (Arnold Field parking lot, First Street West; 538-7023). Healdsburg: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon (West Plaza parking lot at North and Vine streets; 431-1956). Petaluma: Saturdays, 2 to 5 p.m. (Walnut Park, Petaluma Boulevard South and D Street; 762-0344).

Santa Rosa Downtown Market The event formerly known as the Thursday Night Market boasts a wealth of fresh produce, community arts and crafts, and live entertainment. May 26-Sept. 1, Wednesdays from 5 to 8:30 p.m. The event is held between B Street to E Street and Mendocino Avenue between Third and Fifth streets, Santa Rosa. Free. 524-2123.

Michael Amsler

Sonoma County Crushers Sick of big-city prices? Come see our own homegrown champs for a few hours of fun, sun, and professional baseball. The Crushers’ first home game is May 21 at 7:05 p.m., against Zion. Sonoma County Crushers Stadium, 5900 Labath Ave., Rohnert Park. Tickets are $4-$10; season passes and other packages are available. 588-8300.


Art and Artisan Show The Valley of the Moon Art Association presents the eighth annual weekend with 75 Northern California painters showing their stuff, plus music and refreshments. June 5-6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sonoma Plaza, downtown Sonoma. Admission is free. 453-1656.

Art at the Source “How to Buy Art from a Real Artist” is this year’s theme of Sebastopol’s self-guided tour of 69 professional artists’ studios in west Sonoma County. Meet and speak with these artists, see their work, and buy what captivates you. June 5-6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maps are available at the Art Center, the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce, and all Copperfield’s Books stores. Admission is free. 829-4797.

Backyard Concert Series KRSH and the Sonoma County Independent celebrate summer’s return with a series of free concerts every three weeks or so. June 8, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Julien Coryell surprises with “new rock.” Behind KRSH studios at the Station House, 3565 Standish Ave., Santa Rosa. Admission is free (proceeds from food and wine sales benefit Becoming Independent, an organization that helps the disabled). 588-0707.

Beerfest Oh, yeah, it’s that time again. More than 30 microbreweries join forces with musicians and people who’ll let you taste their gourmet food at this eighth annual festival. June 5, 1 to 5 p.m. LBC (mall and courtyard), 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $24 in advance, $28 at the door (proceeds benefit Face to Face/Sonoma County AIDS Network). 887-7031.

Black Bart Festival Cloverdale’s top summer frontier fest will have a Gold Rush Race (10K and 3K walks/runs), an open-air antique show, an art show, food, wine and beer, music, dancing, a magic show–and even more. Whew! June 5, 8 a.m. to midnight. Middle of the street, Cloverdale Boulevard, downtown Cloverdale. Admission is free. 894-4470.

Cotati Jazz Festival Headliners at this 19th annual jazz-a-thon include R&B diva Brenda Boykin, the Smith Dobson Quintet, and the Golden Gate Rhythm Sextet. June 19-20, 1 to 6 p.m. All shows are at the Inn of the Beginning, Tradewinds, Cotati Yacht Club, Cafe Louise, and Casa Cotati. Tickets cost $15 for one day, $25 for both days; buy tickets at the bandstand in La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati. 584-2222.

Dry Creek Vineyard Summer Celebration Indulge your senses with samplings of all kinds of wines and food and get down to the sounds of jazz, rock, and timeless favorites. June 5, noon to 5 p.m. 3770 Lambert Bridge Road, Healdsburg. Tickets are $30. 433-1000.

Duncan Mills Festival of the Arts This annual event in the little town by the river offers arts, music, and miscellaneous fun. On Saturday, hear music from Midnight Sun and Pamela Rose. On Sunday, enjoy the Savoy Swingers and classical guitarist Daniel Cain. The event also includes a fine-art competition, food, and a rubber-duck competition that offers such prizes as a trip to Maui. June 19 and 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 to 5 on Sunday. Admission is $3-$4 (proceeds benefit the Stewards of Slavianka). 824-8404.

The Elephant’s Child The Children’s Theatre of all Possibilities performance of one of Kipling’s classic “Just So” stories will delight children and adults alike. June 12 at 7:30 p.m., June 13 at 2 p.m. Evert B. Person Theater, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for kids (proceeds benefit Innocence Project, a therapeutic arts program for Ugandan child soldiers). 823-8036.

Film Cafe at SMOVA The Sonoma Museum of Visual Art takes advantage of our blessedly balmy climate to present a monthly series of outdoor screenings featuring experimental short films. Experience the innovative art of some of Northern California’s quirkiest filmmakers while enjoying fine food and wine under the stars. June 11, July 9, Aug. 6, and Sept. 3. Cafe opens at 8 p.m.; the films roll at dark. SMOVA courtyard, LBC, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $12 for museum members, $15 for non-members. 527-0297.

Fort Ross Summer Music Festival The Fort Ross Volunteer Fire Dept. proudly presents its 25th annual summer music benefit that’ll be blazing with talent, fun, and eats: music by Vinyl, John Sikora, the Azibo Tribe, and Cohesion (among many others), exotic belly dancers, Mexican cantina, kids’ activities, food, beer, and wine–plus a raffle. June 19, 10 a.m. to midnight. Take Hwy. 116 toward Cazadero and follow signs west from there. Tickets are $22.50 in advance and $25 at the door (adults); $17.50 and $20 (youth); free for under 12 and over 65. 847-3184.

Garden Expo Garden experts, music, kid’s activities, and more are on hand at the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens. June 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Santa Rosa and Sonoma avenues, Santa Rosa. Admission is $3 for adults; free for kids 12 and under. 524-5445.

Grassroots Gourmet Sonoma County Conservation Action’s annual sellout Grassroots Gourmet Celebration features a gourmet dinner, wines, music by the Pulsators, a silent auction, and the presentation of the Upstream Swimmer Award to a local official who “has “demonstrated leadership in the face of adversity.” June 26 at 6 p.m. Odd Fellows Temple, 545 Pacific Ave., Santa Rosa. Tickets are $30 in advance, and, if available, $35 at the door. 571-8566.

Healdsburg Jazz Festival Healdsburg hosts a weekend of world-class jazz. Watch jazzy movies on June 3 at the Raven Film Center (“‘Round Midnight” at 6:15 p.m. and the Chet Baker documentary Let’s Get Lost at 8:45 p.m.; $8); hear the Bobby Hutcherson Quartet on June 4 at two shows ($22); groove to the Cedar Walton Quartet ($22) or drummer Billy Higgins ($15) solo on June 5; stuff your face at a swingy brunch on June 6 (Belvedere Winery, 4035 Westside Road; $15 for adults, $8 for kids), and hear the free concert by the Cannonball Sextet and Tacuma King on the Plaza. All performances are at the Raven Performing Arts Theater, 415 Center St., Healdsburg. 433-7900.

Health and Harmony Six stage of entertainment (including Los Lobos on June 13 and Kenny Loggins on June 14) is only one highlight of this 21st annual counterculture event featuring arts and crafts, tons of food, prominent political speakers, and kids’ stuff. June 12-13, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Admission is $15 in advance, $18 at the door, $25 for two days; free for kids under 10. 547-9355.

Health Food and Fitness Expo This year’s expo-goers can rappel down the climbing wall, clamber over the monkey bridge, get a massage, eat free food, and learn the secrets of gourmet chefs. June 26-27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Pick up free tickets at any Longs drugstores. 543-5132.

Hip-Hop Dance Camp The Sebastopol Teen Center hosts a camp committed to bringing hip-hop culture to North Bay kids ages 12 to 19. Two one-week sessions begin June 21 and July 19; Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 425 Morris St., Sebastopol. Cost is $150, with discount given for second person. 523-2431.

Rocky Schenck

Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival Kind friends, all gather ’round, there’s somethin’ I would say . . . come to the festival honoring the late singer-songwriter Kate Wolf with music by Greg Brown, Dave Alvin, Lucy Kaplansky, Rosalie Sorrels, and Utah Phillips, among others. June 26-27; gates open at 10 a.m. Bring a chair or blanket, and money for all the yummy food, beer, and wine. Caswell Winter Creek Farm and Vineyards, 13207 Dupont Road, Sebastopol. Tickets are $32 for one day, $60 for both days (adults); $27 and $50 (seniors); $15 and $25 (kids under 17); $5 and $8 (kids under 11). 829-7067.

Lesbian & Gay Comedy Night Marga Gomez, comedienne/actress who’s been featured on HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central headlines at the fifth annual Lesbian & Gay Pride Comedy Night; Doug Holsclaw is sure to make you bust a gut, too. June 12 at 8 p.m. LBC, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Tickets are $16 general, $13 for seniors. 546-3600.

Russian River Blues Festival Grab a blanket and sunscreen for a weekend of serious blues on the river. This year’s lineup presented by the Sonoma County Independent includes Etta James, Booker T. and the MGs, Tower of Power, Joe Louis Walker, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Tommy Castro. And, of course, there’ll be food, wine, beer, and arts and crafts. June 26-27; gates open at 10 a.m. Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville. Admission is $35 for one day, $65 for a two-day pass. 510/655-9471.

Russian River Chamber Music The spring season concludes with guest pianist Dean Kramer performing Mozart and Schumann. Saturday, June 5, at 8 p.m. Federated Church, 1100 University Ave., Healdsburg. Tickets are $15. 524-8700.

Scrapture One person’s trash is another person’s . . . art project! Come and see at Garbage Reincarnation’s “Oh Rapture, It’s Scrapture!” junk-art sculpture competition. June 26, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.. Recycletown, Sonoma County Central Landfill, 500 Meacham Road, Petaluma. Admission is free. 584-8666.

Cry of the wolf: Los Lobos rock the Health and Harmony Festival on June 13 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

Sonoma-Marin Fair There’s something for everyone at the fair this year. Each day, hypnotist Kevin Stone entrances, Alphabet Soup puppeteers perform, and there’s auto racing, a kids’ park, a carnival, and garden shows. At night the stars come out–stars like the Tower of Power, the Shirelles, Hall and Oates, the Savoy Swingers, and country crooner Tracy Lawrence. June 23-27, noon to midnight. Follow Hwy. 101 to the Washington Street exit, and then follow the crowds to the fairgrounds. Admission is $7 general, $3 for kids under 12; free for kids 6 and under. 763-0931.


Art in the Park Sunday evenings are full of music at Juilliard Park this summer: July 11, Mariachi Jalisco and Mayra Carol perform festive, traditional music of Mexico; July 18, the Savoy Swingers shake it up; July 25, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s Young People’s Chamber Orchestra gets classical; Aug. 1, Michael Bolivar soothes with smooth jazz. All shows are 5 to 7 p.m. 211 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. It’s all free. 543-3732.

Cruisin’ in the Summer Car Show Classic-car buffs from across Northern California will arrive in droves to attend this event, which features 150 restored classics, hot rods, and rare foreign cars. Other attractions include music, raffles, and contests. July 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Plaza North, N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma. Admiision is free. 762-2234.

Kenwood Pillow Fights The feathers fly as Kenwood celebrates Independence Day with an annual event that includes bed races, food, a parade, and, of course, the famous pillow fights, which take place in the mud for added fun. Musical performers include the Shannon Rider Band. July 4, from 9 a.m. on. Admission is $4; children under 12 get in free. 833-2440.

Marin County Fair Big-name musical acts are the name of the game this year. The big guns include rocker Eddie Money on July 1, the Oakridge Boys on July 2, and Tommy Castro on July 4. The Blues Festival returns on July 5 with such acts as Clarence Sims and Bobby Webb. Of course, you also won’t want to miss the classic fair fare, including arts and crafts and carnival ride. July 1 to 5 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Marin County Fairgrounds, San Rafael. $8-$10; free for kids three and under. 415/472-3500.

Petaluma Summer Music Festival The Cinnabar Theater holds a month of music for all ages. Some highlights are “The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” and Mark Taylor. July 31-Aug. 21. 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Call for details. 763-8920.

Sonoma Valley Shakespeare Festival The annual offering of work written by or inspired by the Bard is back. Offerings this year include The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, and Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. July 2 through Sept. 25, Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $18 general, $10 for teens; season passes are available. 575-3854.

Sonoma County Fair It’s time to suck up the spun sugar, then try and keep it down while you ride the Kamikaze, bet on the horse races, ooh and ahh at the flower show and rodeos, and get dusty feet. This year’s Sonoma County Fair offers a musical lineup that includes Vonda Shepard (of Ally McBeal fame) on July 29, El Vez on July 31, Taj Mahal on Aug. 2, the Blues Festival on Aug. 7, and many more performers, including Lavay Smith and Broken Spoke, and comedian Paula Poundstone on Aug. 4. July 27-Aug. 9, noon to midnight. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Admission is $5 general; senior, kids’, advance, and group rates are available. 545-4200.

Sonoma County Showcase and Wine Auction Sonoma County’s swankiest wine and food event returns for a summer of tours, tastings, parties, and golf. July 14-17. Locations, prices, and times vary (proceeds benefit Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger organization). Call 800/969-4767 for more info.

Sonoma Salute to the Arts Ten ‘HUT! Sonoma salutes the arts with a food, wine, and art extravaganza. The opening celebration is July 30 at 7 p.m. (Buena Vista Winery, end of Old Winery Road, Sonoma; $75); the showcase event is July 31 and Aug. 1, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a Saturday night auction ($75) and a Sunday winetasting ($25). Sonoma Plaza, downtown Sonoma. The Gala opening, auction, and tasting package can be bought for $150; everything else is free. 938-1133.

Wine Country Film Festival This eclectic film festival sprawls across two counties (Napa and Sonoma) in its annual quest to offer the widest possible array of moving pictures from around the world. More than 80 films are screened this year, and opening weekend features the premiere of Mickey Blue Eyes, starring Hugh Grant and directed by his amour, Elizabeth Hurley. July 22 to Aug. 15. Sonoma County events take place at Sonoma Cinemas, Jack London State Park, and the Sebastiani Theater. 935-3456.

Lynn Ciccone

Women’s Goddess Festival Join women celebrating life by doing all sorts of fun and empowering things like tackling a ropes course, hiking, and attending workshops and rituals (all Goddess-related). July 16 at noon to July 18 at 6 p.m. (be prepared to camp out!). Ocean Song, 19100 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. Admission is $120 for adult women, $60 for young women, free for children under 12; work exchange is available. 824-0737.


Blues Festival The annual blues event at the Sonoma County Fair celebrates its 20th year with performances by Ronnie Earl, Otis Taylor, Nick Gravenites, James Harmon, and more. Aug. 7 from 2 to 9 p.m. Redwood Theater at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Free with admission to the fair. 542-4200.

Cotati Accordion Festival Summer wouldn’t be quite the same without the sweet sounds of accordion music that echo through Cotati during this annual event. This year features such performers as Santiago Hemenez Jr., the Internationals, and the Steve Balich Polka Band. Aug. 28-29, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Inn of the Beginning, 8201 Old Redwood Hwy., and La Plaza Park, downtown Cotati. Tickets are $8 for one day, $15 for both days. 664-0444.

Bodega Bay Seafood, Art, and Wine Festival Browse through art, dance, ride horses, and partake of excellent seafood and wine. If all that fun gets too stressful, just gaze at the ocean. Aug. 28-29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Chanslor Ranch, 1 mile north of Bodega Bay on Hwy. 1 (follow the signs). $5 general, $4 for seniors, and free for kids under 12. 824-8404.

Gravenstein Apple Fair “The sweetest little fair in Sonoma County” returns for a weekend of fritters, parades, handmade crafts, music, and dancing. Aug. 21-22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Follow the signs from downtown Sebastopol. Admission is $5 general, $4 for seniors, and $1 for kids up to 16.

Great Petaluma Quilt Show Hundreds of colorful quilts take up residence amid the splendors of downtown Petaluma. Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. 778-8015.

Old Adobe Fiesta Come visit California’s largest adobe and step back to 1840 at a living history day of costumed docents, live music, and food. Aug. 8, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Petaluma State Historical Park (free bus transportation from any bus stop in downtown Petaluma). Admission is $2; kids under 10 get in free. 769-0429.

Rodney Strong Summer Jazz Series Jazz, food, and wine are showcased on the Concert Green at the Rodney Strong Vineyards. June 13, jazz saxman Richard Elliot and Willie & Lobo perform. July 11, it’s Dave Koz and Slim Man. Aug. 22, be there for Rick Braun. All shows at 3 p.m. 11455 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg. Tickets are $25 for lawn seating, $30 for the golden circle. 433-0919.


Russian River Jazz Festival Smooth jazz is the heavy favorite at this year’s end-of-summer concert by the river. On Sept. 11, see Michael Franks, the Braxton Brothers, and others. On Sept. 12, hear Dave Koz and Lady Bianca. Johnson’s Beach, Guerneville. One-day tickets are $30 inadvance and $40 at the gate. 869-3940.

From the May 20-26, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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