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Happy Herdeljezi 

Roma Fest celebrates new season in Sebastopol

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It's that time when birds begin chirping more freely, flowers bloom, sunshine lingers longer and cool nights provide relief from the heat of the day. Yep, it's Herdeljezi time.

The traditional Romani neighborhood celebration marks the change in seasons, from staying warm indoors to moving outdoors. "Herdeljezi is a celebration of what Mother Earth gives us," says festival organizer and Voice of Roma founder Sani Rifati, a Rom from Kosovo.

In addition to local groups Inspector Gadje, Jacks & Aces, and Sani and Benji Rifati, the eight-piece New York–based Balkan Romani "sazet band" will make its West Coast debut Saturday. The festival begins Friday evening with a talk on Romani culture and jam session at the Sebastopol Veterans Memorial Building.

On Saturday there are workshops ($20 each) at the Veterans Hall on Romani violin music, Balkan Romani singing, drumming and clarinet, as well as Turkish Romani dancing to get ready for the festival, which begins afterward in Ives Park.

The Roma Festival begins on Friday, May 4, at the Veterans Memorial Hall (282 High St., Sebastopol; 7:30pm; $12–$15) and continues Saturday at Ives Park (7400 Willow St., Sebastopol; 11am dance workshop, $20; 12:30–9pm festival, $15–$18). 707.823.7941.

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