Held on a rugged, rural ranch, a few miles inland from the spectacular Sonoma Coast, the Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival is both sophisticated and down-home. It has garnered the reputation for being one of the premier art, wine/beer and food festivals in California. This annual benefit attracts thousands of foodies, art aficionados, wine and beer connoisseurs and music lovers to picturesque Watts Ranch in the village where Alfred Hitchcock once filmed his classic thriller, “The Birds.”
The festival is a food lover’s dream, especially for people who love seafood. From calmari to crab Louie, oysters to ahi, there are over thirty seafood dishes offered up by a dozen different food vendors. For those who are non-fish eaters they should have no trouble finding delicious vegetarian options, meat, chicken, and sweet treats galore.
The Wine, Microbrewed Beer, and Cider Tasting is always a huge draw. With over twenty-five wineries, twenty microbreweries and several cider makers, the tasting tent rocks all weekend long. It’s a wonderful mix of known companies, as well as many small boutique wineries, cider makers and up and coming breweries. Previous participants, such as Alexander Valley, Cline Cellars, Jacuzzi Family, Korbel, Frey Vineyards, Lagunitas, Mad River, Bear Republic, Sierra Nevada, and Northcoast, to name small handful, will be joined by many newcomers to our tasting including Mutt Lynch Winery, Flint & Steel Wines, 2 Tread Brewing, Boochcraft, and Old Possum. The cost is $20 for a commemorative wine or beer glass and 6 tastes. Wines are also available for purchase from some of our companies, so you can taste and then buy.
The quality of the art and fine craft is unrivaled in Sonoma County and beyond. This juried show attracts artisans from throughout California and other parts of the country. The festival aims to appeal to a broad range of attendees, by providing a mix of higher end fine art and craft and more moderate ranged craft work. The festival producers are artists themselves, and know the ins and outs of doing shows from both sides, having each traveled to do festivals for over 30 years.
Three stages of entertainment give festival-goers a full day of musical and non-musical diversion. This year the Main Stage headliners are a hot, local rock/soul band, The Highway Poets on Saturday and festival favorites, Pride & Joy on Sunday. The stage also features the swinging Stompy Jones, zydeco with East Bay talent Andre Thierry, Latin/world beat band Sang Matiz, and more. The large dance floor is always a big draw, and is packed most of the weekend. The Wine Stage offers more eclectic musical entertainment, including Angus Richardson, playing hypnotic Celtic rock, and the joyful Western Swing Caravan. Captain Jack Spareribs will be back with us on the Entertainment Stage, as will the astonishing magic and acrobatics of Calvin Kai Ku.
This is a fun family event with jump, slide, rockwall, face painting, as well as the “color-in giant mural” which depicts many favorite photographs shot at the festival over the years which have been converted into black and white images to fill in with washable paints: an art project for all our visitors. Our beneficiary, Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods, have wonderful, interactive, environmental displays for the whole family as well.
Our beneficiary, Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods, have wonderful, interactive, environmental displays for the whole family as well.
A portion of the proceeds from the event supports two vital non-profits — Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, which works in partnership with the California State Parks in the Russian River/Sonoma Coast region, as well as the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department.
Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 26. Admission is $15 in advance for adults, $20 at gate. Discounts for seniors, teens and military, and under 12 are free. Watts Ranch is located at 16855 Bodega Highway in the village of Bodega. For additional information, go to www.bodegaseafoodfestival.com.