The Buzz: 2019 Spoken Word Fest canceled

News, notes and tidbits from in and around Petaluma|

Wine Country Spoken Word Festival canceled for 2019: What was originally announced as the “Third Inaugural Wine Country Spoken Word Festival,” set for the weekend of Nov. 8 in Petaluma, has had to be silenced, according to producers Dave and Juliet Pokorny. Blame the dreaded “Outside Circumstances” (a great name for a band or improv comedy troupe, by the way). Stepping up to save the weekend is the Storytelling Association of California, which was already planning a daylong Sunday event, and is now intending to expand their annual Community Conference, at the Hotel Petaluma to include some additional Friday and Saturday events as well.

“This was not an easy decision for us and we know you are disappointed,” stated the Pokornys in a message sent out to followers, “but no one is more disappointed than us. This festival is a passion of ours, so our goal is just to put it on hold for a year.”

The plan, they say, is very definitely to return with a postponed “Third Inaugural” festival in 2020. Till then, fans of spoken word performance can look forward to some other word-happy happenings. For example, West Side Stories Petaluma, the monthly story-?slam event produced by the Pokornys, will carry on with their initial plan to present a special workshop with bestselling author Margot Leitman, an acclaimed storyteller and NYC Moth GrandSlam winner. That workshop will take place on Thursday, Nov. 7 at Sonoma Portworks (613 Second St.)

“Although it’s not The Wine Country Spoken Word Festival,” stated the Pokornys in their announcement (read it yourself at, “there will be a whole lot of words being thrown around Petaluma that weekend and they should not be missed.”

Petaluma actors light up area stages: A number of stage productions in the North Bay include actors and other theater artists from Petaluma. In Sonoma, the recently opened world premiere of Stephen Cole and David Evan’s “Merman’s Apprentice” – about the relationship between a young wannabe Broadway star and the legendary Ethel Merman – was co-directed by Petaluma’s Larry Williams, and features a supporting performance by Ron Lam. “Merman’s Apprentice” runs through Oct. 13 ( This weekend, at Newman Auditorium on the Santa Rosa SRJC campus, Petaluma’s Robert Campbell will be appearing in a production of Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor,” a 1973 comic adaptation of several short stories by Russian author Anton Chekhov. Campbell will be playing the parts of The Old Man (described by SRJC theater instructor Leslie McCauley as “A very Checkovian character”) and The Policeman. The play runs Oct. 4-13 ( And on Oct. 11, Spreckels Theatre Company launches the lavish and hilarious musical “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder,” featuring an appearance by Petaluma’s much-acclaimed actor-singer Eileen Morris.

Jay Palm goes to the Rodeo: It’s technically true that no one from Petaluma’s Jay Palm Saddle Shop will participate as a rider or roper in this year’s Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco (Oct. 11 and 12, and 18 and 19). But word has come to the BUZZ that the storied local provider of riding attire and supplies will be there nonetheless, as one of many exhibitors at the spectacularly sprawling event. If you happen to be planning on attending, do make sure to find the Jay Palm booth and say hello.

Beer Circus raised over $41 grand for the Phoenix Theatre: It was a success, that is the short, sweet description of the 2019 Lagunitas Beer Circus, which saw more than 7,000 attendees at the Petaluma Fairgrounds on Sept. 14. With the world-famous Gogol Bordello as the headliner, and a whole tent devoted to off-the-wall cabaret and burlesque acts (some not describable in a family newspaper), the evening presentation of the annual beer-friendly extravaganza raised just over $41,000 for its named charity, the Phoenix Foundation, which oversees the Phoenix Theater in downtown Petaluma.

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