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.”
A bevy of restaurants and catering companies offer a bounty of seafood dishes and other edibles. Options like barbecued oysters, crab cakes, Key Lime calamari, fish tacos, albacore wrapped in bacon, grilled salmon, fish and chips, fresh crab cocktails and crab Louies are just a few delicious items on vendors’ menus. The festival focuses on seafood, but there are plenty of meat, chicken, and vegetarian options to please all pallets, as well as sweet treats, so this is a food lover’s dream event.
The Wine and Microbrewed Beer Tasting is always a huge draw and this year will be the largest tasting yet: with over 35 wineries and 20+ microbreweries. The tasting is a wonderful mix of known companies, as well as many small boutique wineries and up and coming breweries. Previous participants, such as Alexander Valley, Cline Cellars, Jacuzzi Family, Korbel, Frey Vineyards, Lagunitas, North Coast, Bear Republic, Sierra Nevada, and Speakeasy will be joined by many newcomers to our tasting such as Kobler Estate, Kelley & Young, Full Sail Brewing and Founders Brewing, to name a small handful. The tasting is $20 for a commemorative wine or beer glass and 6 tastes. The festival also has a Wine & Microbrew Store where wines and beers sampled in the tasting are available for purchase.
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 event 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.
3 stage of entertainment give festival goers a full day of musical and non-musical diversion. This year the Main Stage headliners are blues legend, Tommy Castro on Saturday, and Motown rockers Pride & Joy on Sunday. The Waybacks are an exciting addition to the line-up as are the Bootleg Honeys, John Allair, and many more. Non-musical entertainment includes the hilarious Captain Jack Spareribs, Calvin Kai Ku and Merry Mary.
This is a fun family event so there are jumps, slides and rockwall, face painting, as well as ceramic painting for kids. New this year is the giant trampoline-ride Wake Attack. We also have the “color-in giant mural” for all ages. It 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.
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 27, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 28. Admission is $15 in advance for adults, $20 at the gate. There are discounts for teens, seniors and military, and the festival is free for children less than 12 years of age. Watts Ranch is located at 16855 Bodega Highway in the village of Bodega. For additional information, go to www.bodegaseafoodfestival.com.