Summer Roundup: The joys of summering in Sonoma County

Most of the time, the word “summer” is employed as a noun, but it is best when used as a verb.

Nouns are objects, things, items, articles and entities, as in the official definition of “summer,” the noun, on Google's online dictionary, which describes “summer” as “the warmest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from June to August and in the southern hemisphere from December to February.” In Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition is even more specific (and less poetic), defining “summer” with the words, “The season between spring and autumn comprising in the western hemisphere, usually the months of June, July or August or as reckoned astronomically extending from the June solstice to the September equinox.”

But when used as a verb, as in “I look forward to those years when we summer in France,” the word takes on a graceful, shimmering energy. As a verb, “summer” displays a gently elegant and deliciously classy tone that turns the act of, say, attending an open-air concert – “We always prefer to summer in places where music is performed outdoors till long after sundown” – into an open-armed embrace of the best this season has to offer.

With that in mind, here are several suggestions of activities and events that will make your days delightful and your nights more memorable as we all summer in Sonoma, residents and visitors alike.

BRIDGING THE GAP COMEDY SHOW WITH SKIPPY FROM ‘FAMILY TIES' (Aug. 17, Love Field Festival Stage, Pt. Reyes) – Three generations of comedians share the stage for a touring comedy spectacle that comes to the North Bay this weekend under the title “The Bridge the Gap Comedy Festival.” The brain child of Gen X comic-actor Marc Price, who played the geeky sidekick Skippy on television's “Family Ties” (with Michael J. Fox), the show includes Millennial comic Irene Tu (voted Bay Area's Best Standup comic last year) and Baby Boomer Bruce Baum (Alf on “The Stockard Channing Show” in the 1980s). “Fun for the whole family,” the posters declare, adding, “… If your family is twisted!” 7:30 p.m. 11191 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Pt. Reyes Station. Tickets $16.50 each or four for $40. Advance tickets available through

BROADWAY UNDER THE STARS: ‘THOSE DANCIN' FEET' (Aug. 9-25, Jack London State Historical Park) – Sonoma County's Transcendence Theatre Company continues its annual series of outdoor Broadway-themed musical revues with the song-and-dance extravaganza, “Those Dancin' Feet,” showcasing gifted Broadway singers and dancers in what dazzled audiences have discovered is arguably the best Broadway Under the Stars show yet. That's certainly the opinion of one member of the Argus-Courier staff. Eschewing the company's usual Broadway Revue/concert format, “Feet” (perhaps not he most logical choice of a title, given what the show is actually about) tells one unified series of interlocking stories through the shows, with a handful of couples – each “character” played by a vocalist AND a dancer – as some fall in love, some fall out of love, and some discover a sense of self-awareness they ever knew. It's like a two-hour episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” that has one emotionally power-packed through-line with storytelling choreography that is alternately riveting, explosive, heartbreaking and life-affirming. The 2019 season closes with the grand Gala Celebration (Sept. 6-8). For information, visit

CAMPFIRE PROGRAM AT PETALUMA ADOBE (Saturday, June 23, 7-8 p.m.) - Dress casually, lather on the bug spray and prepare to eat a lot of roasted marshmallows, because it's time for another Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park Campfire Program, featuring a short history-steeped talk by rangers, campfire songs, and (as advertised) plenty of roasted marshmallows. This event is free. 3325 Adobe Rd.

HARVEST BARN DANCE (Saturday, Aug. 17) – Tara Firma Farms, 3796 I St., is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Petaluma with a good old-fashioned barn dance. But don't expect this one to be TOO old-fashinoed or traditional, since the dancing will be to live music courtesy of the infectious Evie Ladin. This is a fundraiser for the Tara Firma Farms Institute, a nonprofit devoted to agricultural education. Come at 5 p.m. for a tour of the farm, then a barbecue dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. Dancing breaks out at 6:30 p.m. $20 per person at the door. Please carpool as parking is limited, and parking is not permitted on I Street.

COTATI ACCORDION FESTIVAL (Aug. 17 & 18) – The 29th annual celebration of the accordion returns to the Cotati Hub with a massive lineup of accordion-based or accordion-bolstered acts encompassing a wide array of musical styles and world influences. Some (but hardly all) of the highlights include Andre Thierry, Amber Lee Baker, The Bellow Shakes, The Mad Maggies, Big Lou the Accordion Princess, Corky Bennett, Creosote, Duckmandu, The Great Morgani, Junk Parlor, Miss Moonshine, Motor Dude Zydeco, Penny Opry, Sourdough Slim, Steve Balich, and The Wild Catahoulas. For additional information, visit

FREE TRAIN RIDES FOR KIDS - Until this Labor Day, SMART trains throughout the 43-mile, Sonoma County/Marin County system are letting kids under 18 ride for free on weekends, when accompanied by a paying adult. The program will last through September 2, and there are no limits to the number of young riders who can accompany a paying adult. As if that weren't enough, on weekends, all SMART parking lots are free of charge as well.

MOVIES IN THE PARK (Next film screens Friday, August 23) – One of Petaluma's most popular summertime events returns this year with more family favorite movies, screened under the stars in Lucchesi Park, with even more pre-show activities and fun stuff to do while waiting the it to get dark enough. The next film in the series, which runs until almost Halloween, is “Space Jam” (Friday, Aug. 23), followed by “Incredibles 2” (Sept. 20) and “Hocus Pocus” (Oct. 25). Admission is free, activities begin around 6 p.m. Note that this year, no screenings will be held on “school nights.”

LAGUNITAS BEER CIRCUS (Saturday, Sept. 8, 5-10 p.m.) - With the eye-catching tag-line “See things you can't un-see!” the annual Lagunitas Beer Circus returns to the Petaluma Fairgrounds. The beneficiary this year is the non-profit Phoenix Theater), and General Circus Freaker tickets are a flat $40, which includes the first beer. The headliner this year is Gogol Bordello, and did we mention there will be beer? Information at

PETALUMA WALKING TOURS - All summer long, every Saturday morning, Petaluma residents and visitors are invited to join a one-of-a-kind historical walking tour, led by costumed docents who will tell the vibrant and colorful stories of old time Petaluma as they lead a walk past building, houses and others important sites. Meet at 10:30 on the steps of the Petaluma History Museum, corner of Fourth and B Streets. The tours are free, but donations are welcome.

ROCKSOBERFEST (Saturday, Sept. 28 from 1-9 p.m.) - Combining the energy of a rock music festival with the sobriety-friendly camaraderie of a 12-step meeting, the next RockSoberFest will take place right here at the fairgrounds in Petaluma. The massive musical event is drug and alcohol free, and includes the surf-punk band The Happys, Venus in Scorpio, No Account, Angel Amodor, and John and Camellia Ford, plus food, meetings and other buzz-free fun. Tickets will be $18 in advance and $22 at the door, with kids 16-and-under $10. Tickets available on

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