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Summer Events Roundup: Brad Paisley sings, Broadway dances, Shakespeare goes wild, and more.


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“Yet, I pray you …” exhorts brilliant and beautiful Helena (the infatuated but heroic healer-and-deviser-of-plots in William Shakespeare’s off-the-wall, pre-feminist rom-com “All’s Well That Ends Well”), “But with the word the time will bring on summer, When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns, And be as sweet as sharp. We must away. Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us. All’s well that ends well. Still the fine’s the crown. Whate’er the course, the end is the renown.”

In slightly less lofty language, what Helen is saying is that regardless of what the winter season brings, summer will always return eventually, and stuff that was unpleasant then will become attractive and nice to look at and, you know, full of fruit, because time being time, what matters most is how things end and what will soon be, not so much what used to be, or how crappy things sometimes got along the way from then to now, or from now to … whatever comes next.

In even plainer words: forget the past, because we’ve still got some summer left, so let’s keep the party going!

Here, to make that easier, are several upcoming events, activities, festivals and fairs in and around Petaluma. These include (behold!) an actual, fully staged production of “All’s Well That Ends Well,” courtesy of Petaluma Shakespeare Company, which will perform the little-seen show along the river in late August.

To paraphrase yet another of Shakespeare’s lines, when it comes to activities to fill the summer months will fun, Sonoma County is as boundless as the sea.


Thursday, August 2 – Sunday, August 12, gates open 11 a.m.

Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa

The theme this year is ‘A Salute to Heroes,’ a celebration of the real-life heroes who risked everything during last October’s fires, as well as a fun-filled chance to salute the kind of heroes who wear capes and fight supervillains. Daily activities will include special programs for all. The Hall of Flowers this time out will feature the theme “Seasons of Sonoma,” with floral representations of the county’s rugged coastal bluffs, towering redwoods, color-changing vineyards and more. Special musical events for 2018 include appearances by rock legends Blood, Sweat and Tears, plus country crooner John Michael Montgomery, the inaugural Sonoma County Fair Blues Festival, with Grammy winner Grady Champion and others. The fair will feature the Norcal Brewfest, horse racing, a vast carnival and midway, all the usual fair foods (Fried Candy, anyone?), and lots more besides.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? SonomaCountyFair.com.


Friday Aug. 3 - Saturday Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m.

Weill Hall, Green Music Center

The Green Music Center will host a two-day benefit event titled “Thicker Than Smoke” as part of the ongoing recovery process following the North Bay October fires. The event will welcome country artist Brad Paisley as well as actress Bonnie Hunt (“Cars,” “Return to Me”) who will host an acoustic concert on the outdoor lawn of Weill Hall. Local author Brandon Spars will begin the event with some live storytelling, and local speakers will have an opportunity to share their own stories. The event is designed specifically to benefit first responders who suffered losses during the fires. First responders are eligible for free tickets to the event. Tickets start at $45.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit gmc.sonoma.edu


August 3 - 19, 7:30 p.m.

Jack London State Historic Park

The Transcendence Theatre Company’s four-part summer series is prepared to entertain hundreds of eager patrons a night with Broadway-inspired productions featuring established singers and dancers with diverse and multifaceted backgrounds ranging from appearing in “Mamma Mia,” Young Frankenstein,” and “Mary Poppins.” Broadway Under the Stars includes a pre-show picnic on park grounds as well as local food vendors and food trucks, and of course, an abundance of wine. “Shall We Dance” showcases movement and rhythm in addition to impeccable vocals. Tickets range from $45 for general admission to $145 for VIP access.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit transcendencetheatre.org


Saturday, August 4, 12 Noon to 9:30 p.m.

Petaluma Fairgrounds

Railroad Earth, The Brothers Comatose, Royal Jelly Jive, Danny Click and the Hell-Yeahs, The Rainbow Girls and many additional musical acts will performs on multiple stages at this annual fundraiser to keep music in our local schools. The extravaganza unfolds at the Petaluma Fairgrounds. Tickets $55 general, $149 for the VIP treatment.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Petalumamusicfestival.org.


Thursday, August 9, after sunset (space open at 6 p.m.)

Lucchesi Park

Movies in the Park continues with 2017’s hilariously off-the-wall adventure comedy, “Despicable Me 3,” the continuing story of reformed evil mastermind Gru and his three adorable adopted daughters. Before the movie, there will be games, food trucks and other pre-show activities.

Free Admission.


Friday, Aug. 16 – Sunday, Aug. 18

The Mystic Theatre and the Big Easy

The goofy name says it all: The inaugural Pet-a-Llama Comedy Festival will aim to make Sonoma County laugh. The festival will unfold over three days in August, with simultaneous shows at the Mystic Theatre and The Big Easy. Highlights will include comedian Brian Posehn (“The Big Bang Theory,” “The Sarah Silverman Show”), The Comedians’ Cinema Club (an L.A.- based group that reenacts popular movies on the spot), The Sklar Brothers (Netflix’s “What Are We Talking About?”), Buddy Cole (from Kids in the Hall), Todd Glass and the Todd Glass Band, and a whole more.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? To see the full lineup and get information on each of the acts, check the website at Petallama.com.


Saturday Aug. 18 - Sunday Aug. 19 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.

La Plaza Park

The city of Cotati is preparing for its 28th annual Accordion Festival featuring over 40 acts from across the globe including Finland, Italy and Germany. Coined the “Woodstock of the Accordion World,” the fest accommodates varying interests including the polka tent for those who want to boogie, the jam tent, the student stage, the zydeco dance party … and the Apocalypse Stage. Over 70 vendors will participate in the festivities consisting of food, beer and wine. A free shuttle service will transport patrons from the local Smart station for convenience. Tickets are $17 presale, $19 at the gate, and free for kids 15 and under.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit cotatifest.com


Aug. 23-Sept. 2, 7 p.m.

The Foundry Wharf

Free Shakespeare returns to the Foundry Wharf, as Petaluma Shakespeare Company presents ‘All’s Well That Ends Well,’ the Bard’s wacky psychological rom-com about a brilliant, low-born woman who goes to astonishing lengths to win the heart of nobleman who pretty much hates her. Directed by Chloe Bronzan, the play will be stage out doors on the lawn overlooking the Petaluma River. Each night, the show will be preceded by short vignettes from the movement-based performance piece “Speechless Shakespeare,” which will be performed in its entirety on Sundays, Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, at 4 p.m. All shows are free, though donations will be gratefully accepted. Food and drink available for purchase.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit PetalumaShakespeare.org.


Saturday, Sept. 8, Noon – 5:00 p.m.

Petaluma Fairgrounds

With the eye-catching tag-line “See things you can’t un-see! Music you can’t un-hear!” the annual Lagunitas Beer Circus returns after an unforeseen last-minute cancellation last October, in the midst of the Santa Rosa firestorms. Back with a vengeance, the massive, multi-arena event will take place at the Petaluma Fairgrounds, and will feature “freaktacular entertainment” of all kinds. Acts and attractions will include a roaming marching band, plenty of live burlesque and a sideshow of jaw-dropping performance art anomalies, death-defying aerialists and first- rate musicians from all over the world. The beneficiary this year is the non-profit Petaluma Phoenix Center (better known as the Phoenix Theater), and General Circus Freaker tickets are a flat $40, which includes the first beer. Did we mention there will be beer? Well, it’s the Lagunitas Beer Circus, so of COURSE there will be beer.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Information at Lagunitas.com.


Saturday, Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Block and Trolley-Railway Museum

Piano-playing musicians of all ages will compete for cash prizes and trophies on colorful, artistically-adorned pianos, as part of this tuneful fundraiser for Petaluma Trolley Living History Railway Museum. Petaluma’s John Maher – aka Petaluma Peter – is organizing the event. All styles are encouraged (not JUST honky-tonk, but that said, honky-tonk rocks!), and a number of renowned players are already on board to compete, including David Dodd, John Allair, and Mark McQuilkin. $10 online, $12 at the door.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit Eventbrite.com (search for Petaluma piano).


Saturday, September 15, 1 p.m - 5 p.m.

Historic Downtown Petaluma

With the slogan “Brews from our backyard, right by the River,” local craft beer fanatics are destined to celebrate the 6th annual festival by lining up to sip on 23 local breweries such as Lagunitas, Henhouse, Fogbelt, 2 Tread, Bear Republic and more. Participating food venues include El Roy’s, Chicken Pharm, Petaluma Coffee & Tea Company. Food and drink will be accompanied by live music by the riverfront. You must be 21+ to attend this event. Tickets are $40.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit Petalumarivercraftbeerfest.org

Staff-writer Olivia Hunt contributed to this piece