Today we headed over to the town of Guerneville, to Johnson’s Beach along the Russian River in Sonoma County for the 34th Annual Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival.
We’d never been to Guerneville nor are we rabid jazz fans (with the exception of Dave Brubeck and those other classic jazz types), but Tom won the tickets so we thought why the heck not check it out.
It turned out to be quite the serendipitous adventure.
Be prepared to park in town (there is no dedicated parking lot) and to walk in to the beach. The spot we found was about 1/2 mile away. And though we didn’t do much exploring in town, it’s cute and we’ll visit again to check it out more.
The river was beautiful. The festival was great—on the small side and mellow—but even better was the opportunity to expose Samantha to the experience of live music and to all the different types of people.
We had excellent “seats”–second row, center. But even the general admission seats looked fun. The word seats up there is in quotes as all seats are those low-back chairs. Ours, being gold-level & all, were supplied by the event company–but sure were rickety. Better than hauling our own though. But if you’re particular about your seats, I’d recommend hauling yours.
But wherever you sit, be prepared to be on gravel. We didn’t bring our picnic blanket and wished we had. I’d also recommend a small personal umbrella or such as all seating is in the full sun.
Blissfully, the river is but 15 steps away from all seats so it was easy to quickly cool off. Plus, Samantha was able to practice her newly-acquired swimming skills.
We brought our simple lunch of sandwiches and deli salads, but there were plenty of interesting food stands–including Indian, BBQ, and more. One vendor even had fried gator (which I swear I will try next time I get such an opportunity).
Alongside the food stands were several merchants offering a vibrant selection of textiles and other hand-made goods.
We didn’t see a whole mess of other kids, but there were a few (all of whom were kiddo’s age or older). We felt no resistance though–no tight smiles, subtle shrugs, or muffled groans of “oh, there’s a kid.” As I mentioned earlier, the vibe was quite mellow, very easy-going. That said, we only smelled pot but once (and though we couldn’t see the source, it was coming from the canoes on the river. Or, perhaps, the band members back stage).
And we overheard less than a handful of curse words. And I think all of those were “damn!” & in response to a particular fervent guitar or drum solo. Fewer (and nicer) than our typical housecleaningyardwork days at home…
If you’re local, think about going next year. If you’re planning a visit to Wine Country and it falls during this time next year, think about going.
Who: Families with kids ~5 or older
What: A small, mellow live music festival–on a gravelly beach
Where: On the Russian River in the town of Guerneville, just off Hwy 101 in northern Sonoma County
When: Annually in mid-September
Why: To relax, listen to live music, swim in the river