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Russian River Food & Winefest in Monte Rio 

Run-down of events surrounding this innovative foodie fest and fundraiser

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Gretchen Giles

While the Russian River Food & Winefest is only in its fourth year, its scope has expanded far beyond presumed baby steps. With the culminating event slated for Sept. 30, the RRFW actually begins on Wednesday, Sept. 19, with a little old open mic in Graton. At that town's Ace-in-the-Hole pub, singer-songwriters will vie to see who gets an opening slot for the Country on the River gig set for the Monte Rio Meadow on Sept. 29, headlined by Hal Ketchum. An outdoor event replete with gourmet box lunches, this afternoon of Americana and lawn-dancing benefits the Russian River's EcoRing nonprofit, just one of the many river area do-gooders due to receive funds from the overall swathe of the RRFW.

On Sept. 20 at 3pm, the Guerneville School Garden is the recipient of a Planting of the Trees ceremony in which three black walnuts will be added to the school's teaching garden. On Sept. 28, the RRFW turns its eye to the arts with a unique event to sustain Monte Rio's plucky Pegasus Theater with staged readings of works about the joys of eating and drinking performed by area actors and foodies. The $100 ticket includes all manner of comestibles as well as two tickets to an upcoming Pegasus production.

The RRFW culminates on Sunday, Sept. 30, in a daylong meadow marketplace with food and wine tastings, chef demonstrations and an author panel, among other treats. Relish Cooking School dons the whites, as do James Beard Award winner Scott Peacock of Atlanta's Watershed resto and our own Mateo Granados. Carrie Brown of Jimtown, author Michele Anna Jordan and chef Peacock discuss "American Food in American Life"; meanwhile, artisanal cheese tastings will abound. A VIP ticket gives access to a restricted area amassed with special food-, wine- and expert-driven events.

Other recipients of this massive fundraising effort include the Russian River Valley Foundation, assisting arts in the schools, and the benevolent Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Eat good, dance good, plant good, enjoy good—do good. Not bad at all. Affiliate events too numerous to list add to the fun. For complete details, go to


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