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Hot Summer Guide 

Great things to do, Memorial Day to Labor Day



Larkspur Flower & Food Fest

Bloom with pride as local gardeners bring their best flora to show off to the community at the 21st annual celebration of good things to look at and good things to eat. The daylong event features a schedule of flower-themed events and gourmet food exhibitions. May 30 on Magnolia Avenue, downtown Larkspur. 415.924.3803.


Auction Napa Valley

Having raised more than $90 million for local nonprofits since its inception in 1981, Auction Napa Valley is a crazy big way for wine lovers and deep pockets to enjoy a party. The event will be held June 3&–6 this year and features all of the many different kinds of auctions, winery events, dinners, dress-up opportunities and fun that regular attendees count on. The main event is slated for June 5 at Meadowood with the girl group the Bangles performing. While Jay Leno hosted the auction in 2008, raising a record $10.3 million, organizers this year have foregone a celebrity host, choosing to focus this 30th celebration on fundraising and plain old fun. 707.963.3388.

Summer Nights

Santa Rosa's Railroad Square hosts a new series with winetasting, outdoor dining, live music on two stages and a monthly arts and crafts fair the first Friday of each month through September. Starts June 4, 6&–9pm. Free; $15, winetasting.

Thoughts on Time

RISK Dance Company performs original work meditating on linear and circular continuums. June 4&–5. Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.327.8108.

Forestville Youth Park

The only privately owned public park in the country turns 50 this year and celebrates with plenty of barbecue, community spirit, a parade, live music and a carnival. June 4&–6. Carnival, Friday; parade, Saturday at 10am; festival, Saturday&–Sunday. 7045 Mirabel Road, Forestville. Free.

Healdsburg Jazz Festival

Now in its 12th year and more relevant than ever, this 10-day music festival delivers a straight-ahead jazz lineup of vibrant talent, including Charlie Haden with Ravi Coltrane and Geri Allen; Jason Moran with Bill Frisell; Esperanza Spalding; and exhaustive others. Various locations in and around Healdsburg. June 4&–13. $10&–$65. 707.433.4644.

Vine Art

The third annual Vine Art event in Santa Rosa's South A Street arts district marries local artists with wineries, restaurants and great live music for what is frankly a flat-out cool event. This year, Electric Avenue, the Deluxe Buckets and the Trailer Park Rangers provide the tunes. Open studios mark the streets and alleys of the area, and visitors grab a glass and taste and drink and dance and art-watch the evening away. June 5.


Eat, drink and be merry to support an excellent cause when the 19th annual Beerfest to benefit Face to Face floods the outdoor areas of the Wells Fargo Center. Tickets include all food and beer tastings and a souvenir glass. The 35-plus brewers are a veritable who's who of Northern California artisans, and the Bluesburners keep it shaking. June 5 from 1pm to 5pm. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. Twenty-one and over (alcohol till 4:30pm). $40&–$45; cheaper presale available online through May 21. 707.546.3600.

Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival

Some 375 vintage vehicles, ranging from a 1914 Ford to a 1991 Roush Mustang prepare to race at Infineon followed by a festival at Sonoma Plaza replete with wine and food tastings. Race, June 5&–6; festival, evening of June 5.

Art at the Source

A swathe of 127 artists in 73 studios throughout western Sonoma County are open to the public during two weekends, June 5&–6 and 12&–13. Come and look behind the scenes, meet the artists and snap up some great deals. Maps can be found at or at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 6780 Depot St., Sebastopol. Free. 707.829.4797.

Rodney Strong Concert Series

The 20th annual KJZY Summer Concert Series, set in the sunny grasslands behind the Rodney Strong winery, kicks off its season with Kenny Loggins (June 5). Next up, lite jazz with Boney James and Jesse Cook (July 3). Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler bring their "Together Again" tour to town featuring Sheila E. (Aug. 7). The KRSH presents John Hiatt and Los Lobos (Aug. 21). S.F. crooner Chris Isaak completes the rounds (Aug. 29). Rodney Strong Vineyards, 11455 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg. $50&–$110. 707.869.1595.

DjangoFest Mill Valley

The great French-Belgian-Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt gets a four-day blowout of fans and players presenting concerts, workshops and, yes, "djam" sessions to honor his spirit and inimitable sound. June 10&–13 at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre. 142 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. $45&–$200. 415.383.9600.

Harmony Festival

Celebrating its 32nd anniversary as an evolutionary, green music festival, this year's Harmony Fest brings a lineup that includes Lauryn Hill, Slightly Stoopid, Steel Pulse, Galactic, Zappa Plays Zappa and Fishbone, to name but a few. Harmony After Dark continues the pleasures with the Jazz Mafia's hip-hop symphony, Wisdom in a DJ set and more spacey-freaky shit. Plus, the de rigueur goddess area, fun kids' stuff, sustainable learning and even mini-mega ramp skate-boarding. Speakers include mycological guru Paul Stamets. Rock it, camp it, twirl it, dance it, grind it and trance it June 11&–13, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Discounted tix still available online; plan to camp. $30&–$330.

Pride Comedy Night

Sonoma County's most popular pride event, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Celebration features the riotous humor of comedians Vickie Shaw and Daniel Leary on June 12. Plan on staying for the Pride Dance after the show. Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 8pm. $19.75&–$39.75. 707.546.3600.

Fairfax Festival

Never one to say no to a party, Fairfax celebrates its 33rd festival, a gentle riot of live music, great food and nice folks.

Look also for the Fairfax Ecofest within the fest, as well as organic goods, art, music, kids' area, flea market and, yes, more. Parade, 10am on June 12; festival, June 12&–13 from noon. Downtown Fairfax. Free.

Italian Street Painting Festival

Some 60,000 people come to downtown San Rafael to marvel at this celebration featuring hundreds of madonnari—or street painters—using the pavement as their canvas. Look for two stages of entertainment and plenty of food. Italian Street Painting Festival, June 12&–13, Fifth Avenue and A Street in downtown San Rafael. Free.

Novato Festival of Art, Wine & Music

Two-day live music fest features area crafters, good things to eat and drink including a wine garden, and live music on two stages. Musical highlights include Montrose (June 12) and Robben Ford (June 13). Children's area complete with petting zoo, bounce house and pony and train rides. Saturday&–Sunday, June 12&–13. Old Town Novato, on Grant, between Redwood Avenue and Seventh Street. Free. 415.897.1164.

John Keawe & Family

Master of the slack-key guitar and Grammy winner, Keawe is a self-taught Hawaiian native who is at the top of his game. June 13 at the Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $25. 707.546.3600.

David Grisman Quintet Plus One

Five-time Grammy Award nominee brings his distinctive "dawg" sound to the Napa Valley Opera House, accompanied by his band and the mysterious "plus one" guest. June 18 at NVOH. 1030 Main St., Napa. $40. 707.226.7372.

Leaving the Village, Finding the Forest

Two days of performances and workshops combining poetry, music, ancient folk tales and stories features Rumi translator Coleman Barks, British storyteller Martin Shaw, poet Lisa Starr and cellist David Darling in collaboration with England's Westcountry School of Myth and Story and Pt. Reyes Books. June 18&–19 in West Marin. $20&–$100.

Sierra Nevada World Music Fest

Slightly outside the North Bay but of avid interest to locals is this three-day roots reggae and world-music festival at Booneville's Mendocino County Fairgrounds, running this year June 18&–20. Acts include Baaba Maal, Fat Freddy's Drop, Don Carlos, the Skatalites, Gregory Isaacs, Toubab Krewe, the Soul Syndicate and many more, plus late-night dancehall. All three days, $135; one day, $44&–$65; limited camping available. 916.777.5550.

Michael York

Famed British actor inaugurates the Oliver Ranch Foundation and its new partnership with the Community Foundation of Sonoma County with a one-man performance of William Walton's symphonic suite Henry V inside the eight-story Ann Hamilton tower on the ranch. The performance is followed by a light supper reception. June 19 at Oliver Ranch. $150; benefits Sixth Street Playhouse.

Marin Art Festival

"The lawn party for the arts" features over 250 artists by the Lagoon in the Marin Civic Center in a two-day outdoor art party that includes international food, live music, fine wine and brews, and the ubiquitous more. In addition to the paintings, jewelry, sculptures, etc., patrons can enjoy a wide variety of food including a taste from all over the globe with Cajun, Greek and French fare. Enjoy the food and stay to stroll the pavilions and listen to all the many different styles of music. June 19&–20, Lagoon Park, at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $10; under 14, free. 415.388.0151.

Cotati Jazz Festival

Get set for some food, music and fun at the 30th annual Cotati Jazz Festival, this year geared to ebony and ivory in a special salute to the piano. This all-day event is entirely free and encompasses every musical and nonmusical venue in downtown Cotati with the main acts slated for La Plaza Park. Performers include the Soul Shine Blues Band, the Susan Comstock Quintet and a special six-piano performance. Check individual venues for their bookings. June 19. Sunday, June 20, return for the Piano Drop Picnic in the park.

Summer Nights

Osher Marin JCC makes a hot summer buzz with concerts and family nights throughout the summer. The concert slate features Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums (June 19), Nigerian Brothers and the West African Highlife Band (July 10), Sambaguru featuring Katia Moraes (July 17), Argentinean sounds with Los Pinguos (July 31) and Geno Delafose and his French Rockin' Boogie (Aug. 8). The family slate kicks off with a cappella group Til Dawn with a showing of the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (June 26), comedian and juggler Unique Derique paired with Shrek II (July 24) and West Marin's own children's singer-songwriter Tim Cain performing before An American Tail (Aug. 14). 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Concert subscription, $100; family shows, $5; under 5, free. 415.444.8000.

Sonoma-Marin Fair

How do you know it's summer? When the world's ugliest dogs appear and a hundred tons of metal collide in the destruction derby, that's how. This year's theme of "Celebrating Summer's Bounty" supports the fun June 23&–27 and includes horse shows and demons and a new Ham Bone Express Pig Race with "the swiftest swine off the line," indoor gaming and a solar train. Entertainers include the East Bay soul of Tower of Power (June 23), country star Clay Walker (June 24), rocker Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (June 25) and '70s Marin County pop icons Pablo Cruise (June 26). The Fiesta Latina buttons it up on June 27. Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma Fairgrounds, two blocks west of East Washington Exit, Petaluma. Noon to midnight. $8&–$19; includes rides; under 3, free.

Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival

A fantastic lineup hails this festival's 15th year honoring the work of the late singer-songwriter Kate Wolf. Artist highlights include performances by Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Green and many more. Plan to camp. June 25&–27. Black Oak Ranch, Laytonville. Full festival pass, including three nights camping, is $160&–$190. Discounted tickets available online through May 24. Daily tickets available, $25&–$35. Under six, free.

Mill Valley Wine & Gourmet Food Tasting

Now in its 29th year, this event was founded by Jim Canepa, the late owner of Mill Valley Market, and has evolved over the years into a fest noted for its large selection of boutique wines and new food trends. Live music, too! June 27 at Depot Plaza, downtown Mill Valley. 415.388.9700.

Wine, Women & Shoes

Hall Winery hosts a benefit for Planned Parenthood with celebrity host David Eigenberg of Sex and the City, with food and wine from 50 wineries and some 20 restaurants and the main attraction: shoes, shoes, shoes—handbags and jewelry. June 27 at Hall Winery, 401 St. Helena Hwy. S., St. Helena. $150&–$250.


Marin County Fair

"Going Global, Connecting Cultures" is the theme of the 65th Marin County Fair, this year featuring a special 3-D screening of films celebrating the wonders of the world. As always, the music and the fine art are stellar, with fireworks ending every night. Things kick off with Wilson Phillips (July 1) and then just get crazier, better with Ramblin' Jack Elliott and the Wailers (July 2), Tea Leaf Green and Little Feat (July 3), Del McCoury Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Masters of Hawaiian Music (July 4), Tiempo Libre, the Four Tops and the Temptations (Jul 5). July 1&–5. Marin County Fairgrounds, adjacent to the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $13&–$15; under four, free; July 1, 12 and under, free. 415.499.6400.

Til My Tale Is Told & Done

Area actors and performers enliven classic Grateful Dead songs with an emphasis on the artistry of lyricists Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow in a nonsung tribute and examination. July 2 at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.327.8108.

Mondavi Winery Summer Music Fest

As always, this luxe summer series includes the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and fireworks after the show (July 3), this year followed by the Court Yard Hounds, featuring Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks (July 10), Ziggy Marley (July 16), the Afro-Cuban All Stars (July 17) and jazzman Chris Botti (July 24). Co-presented by the Napa Valley Opera House. Highway 29, Oakville. Dinner available. $60&–$205. 888.RMWJAZZ.

B.R. Cohn Winery Charity Car Classic

Now in its second year, this free event takes place Sunday, July 4, and features a classic-car exhibit that includes a 1934 Henry Ford five-window coupe and a 1946 Ford Woody Wagon. These cars and many more will also be in the Sonoma July 4 parade early Sunday. The event will also have B.R. Cohn Wines and live music, an auction and raffle. Proceeds benefit the Salvation Army. 15000 Hwy. 12 in Glen Ellen. 1.800.330.4064.

12th Annual San Rafael Twilight Criterium

Downtown San Rafael is transformed into a bike racetrack as pros take over the main downtown streets. Look for an expo on Fourth Street and plenty of kids' stuff, too. July 10.

Fifth Annual Festival del Sole

An astounding success in fine music, the Festival del Sole is back with a flourish July 16&–25. The slate runs from conductor Carlo Ponti Jr., to artists Joshua Bell and Chris Botti to Nina Kotova to youth ensembles to many festive meals to a dance program and much, much more. Prices start at $35. At various venues.

KWMR Fifth Annual Far West Fest

This annual green music festival that benefits local nonprofits takes place on July 17 and boasts two stages with acts like the Brooklyn-based funk act Pimps of Joytime and Jonathan Demme fave Sister Carol, as well as El Radio Fantastique, Brindl and Friends, and locals the Monophonics. 11am to 7pm. Love Field, 11191 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Point Reyes Station.

Night of Standup Comedy

America's Funniest People winner "Chicago Steve" Barkley shares night of laughs with Stephen B., hosted by comedian Steve Applebaum. July 17 at the Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $25. 415.499.6800.

San Anselmo Art & Wine Festival

Over 60,000 folks converge on downtown San Anselmo each year—hungry, thirsty, craft-starved folks. As usual, a section of the fest will include over 200 artists and their various works. There will also be food booths, wine, a merchant marketplace, an emphasis on live music and a kids' area. July 17&–18. San Anselmo Avenue between Bolinas and Tamalpais streets. 10am&–6pm. 415.454.2510.

Brian Regan

Adored in dorm rooms and living rooms alike, this hard-traveling comic makes it to Napa to inaugurate the new theater's comedy slate (blue-collar comic Ron White appears Aug. 12). July 15 at the Uptown Theatre, 1350 Third St., Napa. $35&–$47. 707.259.0123.

Rivertown Revival

Petaluma's answer to the Handcar Regatta, the Rivertown Revival honors Petaluma's woefully underloved slough, er, river, replete with art boat races, a deliciously mysterious (and don't worry, kids), entirely invented river monster and a whole DIY art fair aesthetic that this year salutes an old-timey Coney Island feel. Arann Harris and the Green String Farm Band and Baby Seal Club are confirmed. A fundraiser for the Friends of the Petaluma River and the Petaluma Arts Council. July 24, 11am to 6pm, at McNear Landing (Steamer Landing parking lot, follow the trail).

Catalan Festival

The fastest possible trip to Barcelona, the annual festival at Gloria Ferrer features live flamenco guitarists and dancers, the winery's own sparkling wine and tastings from many Spanish-influenced eateries, along with cooking demonstrations. July 24&–25. Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves, 23555 Carneros Hwy., Sonoma. $42.50&–$50; under five, free. 707.996.7256.

Sonoma County Fair

The fair runs July 27&–Aug. 8 this year with the theme "The Grape Escape," offering the largest themed flower show in the country and more horse racing, rodeos, destruction derbies, Farmers Day activities than you can shake a 4-H kid at. Separate admission is required for country star Miranda Lambert (Aug. 2; $25&–$40) and for the 30th annual Sonoma County Blues Festival (July 31; $8&–$17). Redwood Theater shows, featuring mostly local acts, are free with fair admission. The popular rodeo is slated for July 30&–31 and requires separate admission ($10&–$19), as does the Concierto Hispano (Aug. 1; $7&–$40). "Our Own Backyard: The Gardens of Sonoma County Wine Country" is the flower-show theme, kicking off with a preview on July 25. 1375 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Online presale tix are the best deal and available through July 26.

Paula Poundstone

Lightning quick on her feet, Poundstone revitalized a somewhat flabby post-AA career through the miracle of NPR's laugh-aloud-funny weekly show Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me, where she riffs on news of the week and regularly wins the limelight for her sharp extemporaneous smarts. She turns the same mind on the audience when she appears as a standup act on July 29 at the Napa Valley Opera House. 1030 Main St., Napa. $40. 707.226.7372.


Jim Messina

Other half of legendary '70s singer-songwriters known as Loggins and Messina does a rare solo show. Aug. 6 at the Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. $40-$45. 707.226.7372.

Battle of the Bands: Napa

The Napa Valley Opera House hosts this second annual local band battle on Aug. 7. 1030 Main St., $10&–$12. Napa. 707.226.7372.

We Live Here

Subtitled "Celebrating Music Made in Napa," this line-up of local talent is headlined by our own "Green Zone" columnist Juliane Poirier and her Juliane Band. Aug 13 at Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. $20. 707.226.7372.

San Rafael Food & Wine Festival

The Mission City of Marin plays host to the third annual San Rafael Food and Wine Festival this August at Falkirk Cultural Center. Some 25 regional wineries will be there as well as the local brew folks and plenty of food purveyors. What would wine be without art and music? A lonely drunk, indeed. Plan for Aug. 14 at the Falkirk Cultural Center,1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael. $25, all-day food and winetasting; $15, food only. 800.310.6563.

Napa Valley Art Festival

This juried art exhibit and sale features 31 representational artists from the around the country, and finds guests sipping on Napa Valley wines and other delicacies while listening to live music. Aug. 21 at the Yountville Community Center, 6516 Washington St. (at Yount Street), Yountville. 707.256.3828.

Cotati Accordion Festival

This year marks the 20th year that those who use an accordion should go to Cotati. Polkacide returns! Featuring old faves in honor of the anniversary, ends with Flaco Jimenez in a Tex-Mex flourish. Aug. 21&–22. La Plaza Park, Cotati. $15&–$25; under 15, free. 707.664.0444.

Seafood Art & Wine Festival

Bodega Bay celebrates for the 16th time with seafood deluxe and music. This event showcases the best of California's wineries and breweries, artists and craftspeople and, of course, the legendary rubber duck races. Benefits Stewards of the Coasts and Redwoods and the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department. Aug. 28&–29. 16855 Bodega Hwy., just east of the town of Bodega. $8&–$12; under 12, free. No dogs this year. 707.824.8717.

Arts Sonoma 10

The multidisciplinary fringe fest produced by the Arts Council of Sonoma County screams back for its second year of guerrilla performances and guaranteed surprises at venues—last year, that lofty term included gas stations—throughout the county. Aug. 28&–Sept. 12.


Sonoma County Showcase

Three-day foodie lovefest, Sept. 3&–5, features the Taste of Sonoma County (Sept. 4) at MacMurray Ranch, various winery lunches and dinners (Sept. 3&–4), and Sonoma Valley Wine Auction (Sept. 5). For details and tickets, go to

Masters of Hawaiian Music

Enjoy an inland luau with Grammy winning artists George Kahumoku Jr., Dennis Kamakahi, Uncle Richard Ho'opi'i and Bobby Ingano. Sept. 4 at Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main St., Napa. $35-$40. 707.226.7372.

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