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Thousands celebrate Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival

(From left) Ben Chatfield, 9, Kalib Pruitt, 9, and Brayden Pruitt, 6, get ready to take part in the boat parade as part of the 40th Annual Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival on Sunday, April 28, 2013 in Bodega Bay.

Beth Schlanker/PD
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 7:24 a.m.

Sunny skies, a light breeze, dancin' music, crafts, wine and beer and the tempting smell of fried fish kept a robust crowd happy Sunday afternoon, the second day of the annual Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival.

"It's a terrific day," said the festival President Ellen Meuse. "And this was our 40th year. What could be better?"

More than two dozen boats decorated with colorful flags participated in the blessing of the fleet parade and ceremony late Sunday morning, one of the highlights of the annual festival.

"It was the longest boat parade in years," said Meuse, noting how past year's fishing industry troubles have eased.

The festival celebrates the start of the upcoming salmon fishing season and honors the community's deep fishing roots.

Held on the edge of the bay at Westside Park, it draws thousands of people each year. The hound-friendly event also brings in hundreds of well-behaved, leashed dogs.

Many visitors are repeat festival-goers, like Bryant Johnson from Benicia, who said the live music was a strong draw for him and his friends.

Occidental resident Jim Billingsley was there for the first time.

With a pint of beer in hand, he was starting his experience by eyeing several vintage cars parked in a long row. "I like the cars," he said.

Billingsley wasn't sure what was next. "It's a beautiful day. I'm making the rounds."

The two-day festival is a charity event for nonprofit agencies and schools in the Bodega Bay region. Meuse said last year about $80,000 was distributed.

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