The 9th annual Petaluma Rivertown Revival will make its splashy, vibrant return to Steamer Landing on Saturday, July 14, with festive pageantry, head-spinning displays of art and amusement, continuous musical entertainment, and a merry, costumed, carnival-like ambiance. Not only will the 2018 Revival have all the anticipated events and attractions that have made it one of the most anticipated North Bay events of the year. But this year also brings the historic San Francisco schooner, the Alma, to the big show on the river, and puts a fresh, locals-only focus on artists, entertainers, and merchants from Sonoma County.
“We want to support our county during this time of rebuilding after the fires,” explains Elizabeth Howland, of Friends of the Petaluma River, the non-profit that annually organizes the Revival, and whose education and restoration work the event benefits. “It has always been our goal that this event is about coming together as a community to celebrate the River and the wonderful place we live,” she says, adding, “That’s true now more than ever.”
This year’s incarnation of the vividly eccentric celebration is expected to draw thousands to the tiny 1.7 acre park along the river. The Revival includes activities on and off the water, including performances by an array of musical acts, the aquatic “Nautical Mass” — in which a flotilla of kayaks, rowboats, paddle boards, surfboards, rubber tubes, inflatable crocodiles, and other water-borne oddities travel up-river from the Marina. Additionally, weddings will be performed (legally, for a $5 fee) by participating officiants in the Revival’s Hitching Post (with a honeymoon “cruise” on the river to follow). The beloved Curiodities Tent will be filled with fanciful creatures, interactive art made from repurposed materials will be on display, and a vast array of food vendors, craftspersons, and game booths will be on hand to serve and amuse.
As always, costumes are encouraged. Patrons’ attire generally falls into the “steampunk” category, with touches of a rivertown gambler, Tom Sawyer-turn-of-the-century, Truly Scrumptious-and-Caractacus Potts kind of vibe. In other words, creativity and ingenuity is highly encouraged.
The entertainment line-up this year, as advertised, draws solely from Sonoma County artists. Highlights include Celtic rock band Greenhouse (12:15 p.m. at the Barn Stage), The Traveling Spectacular, featuring sword-swallowing, acrobatics, juggling, illusions and music by the Oddjob Ensemble (1:30 p.m. on the Spectacular Stage), jazz-punk trio Sharkmouth (2:30 p.m. at the Revival Tent), The Crux (4:20 p.m. at the Revival Tent), kids; favorite James K (12:15 p.m. and 2:15 on the Family Stage), John Courage (7 p.m. at the Barn Stage), and the Hubbub Club, leading a marching parade around the grounds beginning at 7:30 p.m.
New this year is aforementioned participation of the Alma, courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum.
“We are especially excited that the Alma is coming, and will be anchored in the River during the Revival,” says Howland.
The schooner will dock alongside the festival grounds, and visitors are welcome aboard for a look around. Entertainment will be taking place on deck, and those participating in the Nautical Mass are welcome to stop by the Alma for a free ice-cold Revive kombucha drink on their way to the Turning Basin, where all floating craft must be “parked” before their crew attend the festival on land. A security person will be on site to watch over docked vessels.
PLANNING TO GO?
What: The Petaluma Rivertown Revival
When: Saturday, July 14, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Steamer Landing Park, corner of D St. & Copeland St.
Admission: $15 for adult humans, $5 for progeny under 12. Weddings are $5 at the world-famous Rivertown Revival Hitching Post.
Transportation: There is limited parking near the Revival, but Petaluma Transit is offering free bus rides to the shindig.