The event features music, dancing, a borscht contest, vendors, arts and crafts, and a beer garden and multicultural food area. There were also a few conservation groups on hand, and since it was low tide in the morning when the festival started, there was a group with a telescope so visitors could view the harbor seals hauled out on the rocks below the cliff the fort was situated on.
The fort is in a beautiful location. Just north of where the Russian River meets the sea, along a rocky coast line fringed with redwoods, I can see the appeal of settling here.
The fort features several buildings, a chapel, and a windmill (for flour). A second windmill was on the location at one time, and used to pulverize oak bark for tannin to process otter furs.
|the sea-side wall and tower|
|view of the fort (and chapel back right) from the location of the village|
|The windmill (one set of blades missing: out for repair)|
For the sake of brevity, I'm going to do a second post for the scenic coastal views, and keep this one confined more to the fort portion of the event and park itself.
Of course a lot of the fun at these events for me are the hands on activities. There were activities for rope making, needle felting, and the two I did, basket weaving and candle-making. I also enjoyed the borscht contest, because guests got to taste each borscht and vote for their favorite. I had for a long time avoided borscht, figuring I wouldn't like it, but have also been curious, so this was a wonderful chance for me to explore. The best part was that I learned I enjoyed borscht, as did Cay, and we've decided to make some at home.
There were a few demonstrations of skills and crafts, and a couple vendors, including these wonderful felted hats:
|When speaking to the woman who made these lovely hats, I found out she lives in Petaluma, not to far from me!|
The park has a really nice little museum and gift shop near the entrance. Out the back of the gift shop is a walkway that goes through the redwoods past the village location and to the fort.
|looking into the museum from the gift shop|
|looking through the trees from the walkway to the back of the Visitor's Center|
One of the coolest things for me at the fort itself was the windmill. It's a pretty ingenious piece of work. The mill is mounted on a huge pole which is dug 10 to 12 feet deep. The end of the pole is charred to prevent rotting in the soil, then a structure is built around it to take the weight of the mill itself, which is far up to accommodate the large blades. The actual mill portion rests on a small base and a metal bearing, on the main pole, which allows the top portion of the mill to rotate, to face into the wind.
There were a lot of events I missed: some of the games and the dancing, and I only heard the bell ringing at the chapel from a distance. I admit, a lot of the time I was distracted by the coastal beauty, the harbor seals, and the conservation groups at the event, which always catch my attention. I'm looking forward to going back next year!