Saturday, August 11, 2018
I was pretty beat by the time I got to Rohnert Park on the bus, stood out in the blistering sun waiting for Cay to get there from work (the only shade at the bus stop was being used by a napping homeless person) and we got to this little tiny church with a few vendors, some tables of groceries, then a long tent with prepared food.
Now I've been to other Greek Festivals (ironically, in most of the cities I've been to, Long Beach, Albuquerque, and now here, they've all been at churches named for St George) and they've been pretty huge, with loads of dancing, vendors, singing, and traditional garb. This was a lot of food.
Now, don't get me wrong. The food was fabulous, quite possibly the best I've had at any Greek festival, but I wanted a little more festival with my food.
Cay got some henna done, we had lunch, and headed home.
Since we got there in the early afternoon, none of the dancing had started. The food line was still long, and a lot of people were simply picking up food and bringing it home. I've checked the Facebook Page since then, and it seems that some of the attendees had been doing some dancing on the small dance floor between the dining tents, but I didn't see any choreographed dancing.
In two weeks Rohnert Park will host the Pacific Island Festival. After seeing the crowds at Rivertown Revival and Butter and Eggs Day in Petaluma, I expected larger events. I suspect that for the most part, events and festivals will be much smaller than those I've come to expect, having been in much larger cities for the past several years.
Although I talked to some of the organizers who admitted the festival was mostly about the food, I have a feeling that the festival would have felt more like a festival (or at least a party) if I'd arrived around dinner time instead of so early in the day.
Sunday, July 29, 2018
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!