Are Petalumans hard-wired to like outdoor events?

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In an article in National Geographic a few years back, scientist Florence Williams was interviewed about her then-new book, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier and More Creative.” The piece, titled “We Are Wired to Be Outside,” quotes Dr. Williams as saying that the Romantic poets of the industrialization period in England and France were among the first to describe the health benefits of stepping outdoors as an antidote to working (or anything else) cooped in in a building. “You see it in novelists like Jane Austen,” she said, “whose heroines always go marching our when they’re upset or need to work something out.”

Well, the Romantics (and Austen too), would love summer in Sonoma County, where there are more outside opportunities to enjoy music, food, theater, movies and community engagement than can possibly be squeezed into a single article about summer activities.

Not that we won’t try.

Here’s a list of some of the great (mostly) outdoor opportunities, events, festivals and fun times awaiting you over the next few months, in and around Petaluma.

LIVE! THURSDAY MUSIC SERIES IN THEATER SQUARE (Thursday, June 6 — late summer) — Here’s a great reason to walk, bike, mobilize or otherwise ambulate to downtown Petaluma. This summer on Thursday afternoons (4:30-7 p.m.) and Sundays (3:30-6 p.m.), great live music is happening in Theater Square. Some truly exceptional performers are scheduled throughout the summer. This week, the Thursday night event welcomes John Courage (June 13), followed by Hannah Jern-Miller (June 20), Steve Pile (June 27) and more to be announced. On Sundays, come see/hear/dance to Dirty Red Barn (June 9), Casual Coalition (June 16), Twang Ditty (June 23), Odd Job Ensemble (June 30) and more.

LIVE AT LAGUNITAS (Through Oct. 7) — One of the great pleasures of living in or near Petaluma is Live at Lagunitas, the popular free concert series, held under the open sky at Lagunitas Brewing Company. Launched a few years ago, the series (which officially kicked off 2019 on May 27) brings some of the hottest and best up-and-coming musical acts to the Eastside facility’s attractively designed outdoor amphitheater stage. This year’s lineup includes the Brooklyn-based Afro-beat ensemble Antibalas (Tuesday, June 18), and rapper/singer Thundercat (Monday, June 24) from Los Angeles. Also look for folk-rocker James McMurtry (Monday, Aug. 5), the experimental pop band Man Man (Tuesday, Sept. 3), and Philadelphia-born pop band STRFKR (Tuesday, Oct. 1). The shows play mostly on Mondays or Tuesdays, when the brewery is usually closed to the public. Though the concerts are free, reservations are required, and available “tickets” routinely get snapped up within minutes of their being put up on the brewery’s website, so look sharp. Ticket reservations and vital bits of information can be found at

BROADWAY UNDER THE STARS: ‘A CHORUS LINE’ (June 14-30, Jack London State Historical Park) — Sonoma County’s Transcendence Theatre Company takes its annual series of outdoor Broadway-themed musical revues to a whole new level this year, with its first-ever full staging of an actual Broadway musical. As in the past, the summer-long season will still include the popular Fantastical Family Night (July 19 and 20), a song-and-dance extravaganza, this year titled “Those Dancin’ Feet” (Aug. 9-25), and the celebratory season closing Gala Celebration (Sept. 6-8). But the real buzz-maker is that the Broadway Under the Stars season will open with a three-week run of “A Chorus Line,” directed by Amy Miller, the company’s co-founder and artistic director. Given that the 1975 crowd-pleaser follows 17 dancers auditioning for one of eight spots in the chorus line of an upcoming Broadway show, and is traditionally performed on a bare stage, there is not a better choice for Transcendence’s first foray into full musical presentations. After all, the big selling point of these Under the Stars shows is that the talent all have Broadway experience, and the cast assembled by Miller have all experienced the very same things the characters in the play do. And based on what this company has already accomplished in its open-air “field of dreams” at Jack London State Historical Park, there is every indication Miller and company will be causing one singular sensation as they move into an exciting new phase. 7:30 p.m. For information, visit Transcendence

PETALUMA DRINKS (June 15 and 16) — Start hydrating immediately and lock-in that designated driver, because Petaluma’s weekend-long city-wide, high-octane sampling circus is back. A benefit for COTS, Petaluma Drinks features a vast array of local artisan breweries, distilleries, wineries and cideries (is that a word?), all opening their doors and preparing to share tastes of their best hand-made (or distilled or brewed) libations. Participants include 101 North Brewing, Azari Vineyards, Acre and Spade Cider, Barber Lee Spirits, Adobe Road Winery, Black Night Vineyards, Ethic Ciders, Bitter Girl Bitters, Fogline Vineyards, Griffo Distillery, HenHouse Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing Company, Karah Estate Vineyard, Kastania Vineyards, Leghorn Wine Co. McEvoy Ranch, Keller Estate, Monarch Bitters, Model Farm Wines, Sonoma Coast Spirits, Sonoma Coast Wines, Sonoma Portworks, Stillwater Spirits, Sonoma Aperitiif and more.

SONOMA-MARIN FAIR (June 19-23) — Our local fair is five full days of fun-seeking, Ferris-wheeling, exhibit-exploring, concert-watching, livestock-judging, deep-fried-food-eating fun (“Fried Candy!” Yum!), with a series of high-profile nightly concerts. This year, those acts include Canadian rockers Loverboy (Wednesday, June 19, 8 p.m.), The Roots & Boots Electric Throwdown with Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin and Collin Raye (Thursday, June 20, 8 p.m.), pop rockers Lifehouse (Friday, June 21, 8 p.m.), and country singer-songwriter David Lee Murphy (Saturday, June 22, 8 p.m.). Plus the always-popular Fiesta Latina (Sunday, June 23, 3-7 p.m.) with Los Dinnos, Nuevos Aventureros, Tamborazo Santo Domingo and Los Della 9. $10-$15.

PENNGROVE PARADE (Sunday, July 7) — Once described “as small-town America as you can get,” the annual Penngrove Parade will celebrate its 43nd year this July, with a procession of tractors, floats, wagons, horses, farm animals, antique military jeeps, and more, followed by a picnic and barbecue with live music by Train Wreck Junction. The picnic is a fundraiser for the Penngrove Social Firemen, and helps maintain the Penngrove Clubhouse and Penngrove Park. For information, visit

DOWNTOWN ART & GARDEN FESTIVAL (Sunday, July 14) — One of Petaluma’s biggest annual street events, the Petaluma Art & Garden Festival will mark its 18th year this July, with multiple music stages, endless food and drink purveyors, and over 145 painters, sculptors, artisans and crafts-persons ready to show off their masterpieces. 11 a.m. to 5 pm. For information, visit

RIVERTOWN REVIVAL (July 20) — A truly unique Petaluma experience, the annual Rivertown Revival celebrates the heritage of our small rivertown by inviting vendors, artists, and visitors alike to dress up (period attire is often observed, though it’s up to you to choose the period) and come down to the river to play. You can also eat, listen to awesome bands on several stages, watch outrageous open-water shenanigans, goggle at artists showing inspired installations, and (yes) even get married for $5 at the world-famous Rivertown Revival Hitching Post. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information, visit

MOVIES IN THE PARK (Begins Friday, July 26) — 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 first film in the series, which runs until almost Halloween, is “Monsters, Inc.” (Friday, July 26), followed by “Space Jam” (Friday, Aug. 23), “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.”

PETALUMA MUSIC FESTIVAL (Aug. 3) — The 12th annual Petaluma Music Festival, onve again unfolding at the Petaluma Fairgrounds, has a massive lineup of musical acts. Along with the David Nelson Band and ALO, catch The Mother Hips, Hot Buttered Rum, Royal Jelly Jive, Blame Sally, New Monsoon, MoonAlice, The Grain, the Soul Section, the Real Sarahs, Magic in the Other, Sebastian Saint James, the Dictator Tots, Fog Holler and Domenic and the Soulshake. As usual, there will also be plenty of food and drink and other activities, and it all goes to help the keep music in Petaluma schools. General admission $55, with VIP packages available. For additional information, visit

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

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