My busy life got in the way of summer this year. I’d planned do things with the grand kids but barely saw them, even when I hosted the barbeques. Now, It’s hard to believe summer is gone and we missed all the fun events.
Maybe there’s still some hope! Look outside. The sky is a fathomless blue, the air is dry and warm, the hills are golden and our river keeps rolling along. We have a month before the clocks “fall back” to standard time and I, for one, am not quite ready to let go of the warm weather and settle down before the fire with my hot cocoa and the latest novel from one of our local literary luminaries. I’m planning to make the most of what Petaluma has to offer in October.
Since 4th grade I’ve harbored a fascination for Vallejo’s Petaluma Adobe. In California history we learned that Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was sent by the Mexican Government to our area in 1834 to secularize the San Francisco Solano Mission in Sonoma by starting a town, now Sonoma. The government gave him a land grant of 44,000 acres and he chose Petaluma for his Adobe rancho and factory. The Adobe served as the center of General Vallejo's 100 square mile working ranch between 1836-1846. Between 600-2,000 people worked at the Adobe and the more important workers would have lived upstairs. In those days, a Native American village was adjacent to the creek. The hide and tallow trade, as well as crops and grain supported the rancho.
Although Vallejo made his home in Sonoma, he visited the rancho as often as possible to oversee the ranching and the construction. Unfortunately the structure had not been completed when Vallejo was taken captive during the Bear Flag Revolt in 1846. By the time Vallejo was released from jail, the Gold Rush had driven labor prices up and squatters had taken over portions of the land. He eventually sold the building and some property in 1857 after attempts to lease it failed. The State bought it in 1951 and the Adobe became a registered National Historic Landmark in 1970.
On the 4th the Petaluma Adobe is celebrating its annual Fandango. I’m grabbing the grand kids and going. The California Sonoma County Pomo Dancers will open with a dance performance at noon, followed by dances of the 1840's performed in period costume. I’m curious to see the Fandango and maybe pick up a step or two. The little girls will love the costumes and crafts for kids hosted by The California Indian Museum & Cultural Center. There will be snacks, too! The park is located at Old Adobe Road at the junction of Casa Grande.
On Sunday the 5th, Shollenberger Park is the place to watch the Wine Country Rowing Classic, a 5,000-meter “head” race, attracting more than 500 athletes. This US Rowing-registered event brings competitors from up and down the West Coast, and includes the NBRC Juniors team, as well as collegiate and masters rowers. The event is free for spectators, and afterward you can take a lovely walk.
Two of my favorite events take place over the following two weekends are ArtTrails, http://www.artsnorthbay.us/ and the Tolay Fall Festival, http://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Activities/Tolay_Fall_Festival.aspx. I’m excited about both, but the grandgirls haven’t quite become art connoisseurs, however they do like animals and bugs. We’ll visit the Tolay Fall Festival and enjoy the Nighttime Creatures Barn—exhibits of native and exotic snakes, birds of prey, tide pool animals, and taxidermy wildlife as well as the Creepy Crawly Room to see tarantulas and scorpions glow under black lights. I can’t wait. After that, the kidlets will love the hayride to a pumpkin patch to select carving pumpkins. I want to visit the replica of a Native American village and try farm activities like wool carding and candle dipping, but forgive me—I just can’t get into the Pumpkin-Seed Spitting Contest! Or can I? I bet the girls would get a kick out of seeing Granna compete in a gunnysack race—or should we reserve that for Grandpappy? I know we’ll all enjoy the petting zoo of barnyard animals. They’re holding demonstrations in archery, fly fishing and astronomy. I’ll pack a picnic and we can buy special treats from the vendors.
Weekend hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults and teens and $1 for children 12 and under. Regional Parks members get free, one-time admission for two adults and two children and free parking when they present their membership cards and parking tags at the entrance otherwise parking is $7. Activities inside the Festival are free. Find Tolay Lake Regional Park at 5869 Lakeville Highway, at the end of Cannon Lane.
The Friends of the Petaluma River is hosting River Heritage Days from the 17th through the 19th. Friends of the Petaluma River is partnering with the San Francisco Maritime Park to bring two historic ships, the Alma and the Grace Quan, up to Petaluma for touring. Special events include a movie at the Turning Basin Friday night and a Barn Dance at the David Yearsley River Heritage Center Saturday night. The Friends promise loads of boats and fun for the whole family. By the way, shoppers, did you know that Friends of the Petaluma River run the Friends River Emporium with part of each purchase going to education and conservation of the river? http://www.friendsofthepetalumariver.org/river-emporium/
Trick or Treat anyone? Alexis, Arya, Grandpappy and I (not to mention the other 3 sets of grandparents: we’re a modern family!) will have picked the hay out of our sweaters, carved the pumpkins, and done up into our most frightening costumes to stalk the Petaluma Downtown Trick-or-Treat Trail on Halloween. Shall I wear my evil fairy Godmother costume? Queen of Hearts? I know—the dead.
And after all this October excitement, our family will be ready for that cup of cocoa. Happy riverside Fandango—Hayride—Pumpkin Patch—Trick or Treat—Trails to all!