Dell'Arte's 26th annual Mad River Festival, running June 16 through July 17, is a month-long romp in the Blue Lake sunshine featuring theatrical thrills, foot tapping music and loads of family fun with larger-than-life puppets and performances to dazzle the young and young at heart. This year's festival is centered on Dell'Arte's current initiative "The River, Our Home," which looks at local watersheds and our relationships with them. Following that theme, the main stage show this summer is The Big Thirst, a comic musical mystery tour that seeks to discover what's happened to a disappearing precious resource. It premieres June 16 at 8 p.m. at the Rooney Amphitheater ($18, $15, $10) and plays through July 3. Other festival highlights in June include the Big Top Family Series: Cowgirl Tricks with "America's funniest cowgirl" Karen Quest trick roping and whip cracking her way around the Pierson Big Top Hammer Circus Tent, June 19 and 26 at 2 p.m. ($10, $5), and Mad Lab, an evening of edgy, experimental works on June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Carlo Theatre (donation).
In July, the festival plays on with Eureka Symphony's: Peter and the Wolf and Instrument Petting Zoo, the racy Red Light in Blue Lake: Adult Cabaret, Humboldt Folklife Festival, a free all-day festival in downtown Blue Lake and more. Visit www.dellarte.com for a full schedule of events and ticket information.
Summer's here and it seems like everything is happening "in the park" or "by the bay." Not that we're complaining. If you enjoy the sound of a cork popping followed by the splash of a little class hitting your glass, then there's one "in the park" event you don't want to miss. Fortuna Rotary Club's annual Art & Wine in the Park on Sunday, June 12 from noon to 4 p.m. at Rohner Park (free admission, $25 tasting glass), is an afternoon of the finer things in life: wine, cheese, art, music and food. There's Chardonnay to sip and sherry to swirl from local, regional and California wineries.
The event, now in its 27th year, features the popular Wine Tasting School where you can refine your palate to an estimable level of snoot. You can also try your luck at taking home a sweet (or dry) prize from the wine raffle, peruse the arts and crafts booths, and pair your drink perfectly at the food booth with Humboldt Bay Oysters and strawberries or heartier fare like burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. And no "in the park" festival would be complete without live music. The Delta Nationals keep things rockin' all afternoon to help you go with the flow.
Ever wonder what went on behind closed doors in some of your favorite Old Town haunts? Eureka is steeped in colorful history; find it at the Humboldt County Historical Society's Raise the Roof: Tales of Old Town, a fundraiser with dinner, music, cocktails and a peek into yesteryear this Friday, June 10 at 6 p.m. at the Eagle House Victorian Inn ($75).
Local historian Alex Service has the scoop on who's who from Humboldt's heyday. Hear tawdry tales about Eureka's infamous nightlife from the 1860s to 1930s. Back then, instead of coffee shops and bookstores, Old Town had 32 brothels and 65 saloons, including the Glo Room at the Hotel Monte Carlo, where torch singer Margaret "Muzzy" Paul sang. Vocal artist Claire Bent and her band the Lonesome Sunday Quartet will bring the 1940s to life in a tribute to Paul, known as "The Last of the Red Hot Mamas."
Feast on salmon or prime rib and hear tales of the area's wilder times courtesy of longtime residents Evo Fanucchi, Laurie Lazio and Bill Williams. Money raised from the event goes to a new roof over the Humboldt County Historical Society's digs, the historic Barnum House. Tip your bartender.
The North Coast is a vibrant stretch of land, bursting with originals and originators. The salt air, natural beauty, friendly folk and easygoing pace surely serve our ability to recognize and unleash our creative power. And fortunately, North Coast Open Studios, the two-weekend, community art event, affords us a rare opportunity to step into the places where that creativity blooms. We get to talk with artists, watch them work, see what inspires them and perhaps pick up a few ideas for our own practices (or, pick up a few pieces for our collections).
The annual event, now in its 18th year, includes open studio locations from Trinidad to Hydesville and east to Blue Lake. It showcases more than 100 artists and artisans. And this year, for connoisseurs of fine fermentation, local cider and wine makers will open their doors for a peek into the processes.
Studios are open this Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and next weekend, June 11 and 12 (free), same time.
To find out where your favorite creator is located, or to double check the rare exception to the open studio times, look for guidebooks around the county, online at www.northcoastjournal.com or in the May 26 issue of the Journal.
The Summer Arts & Music Festival, June 4 and 5 at the Benbow Lake State Recreation Area ($40 weekend pass, $25 per day), billed as "the most comprehensive celebration of art and music on the North Coast" and voted 2015's "Best Music Festival in Humboldt County" by you, dear NCJ readers, is the perfect way to get that sweet summer vibe going.
One of the best bangs for your musical buck, the SAMF presents more than 100 performances by a diverse array of entertainers. Headliners this year include John Popper (of Blues Traveler fame) with Object Heavy & DJ Logic, March Fourth! Marching Band, The Skints and Dehli 2 Dublin, to name just a few. In addition to the imports, you can groove to a multitude of local favorites. Catch the Latin Peppers, NightHawk, April Moore and Ranch Party, Mad River Rose, No Pardon, Asha Nan, Absynth Quartet and a host of others.
As the festival's title indicates, there's plenty of art to behold against the backdrop of the river and redwoods. From the Fine Arts Showcase to the Belly Dance Temple to homemade art, food and information booths to a lively Kids Zone, there's much to enjoy, and all-day/night to do it. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. with the party going from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. both days.
Kinetic Grand Championship 2016 Days 2 and 3
It's the first weekend in June. And 'round these parts, that means the town yonder north off 101 has itself a little celebration. Pony Express Days in McKinleyville makes its run June 1 to 5 with a cook-off, parade, gymkhana and all-day festival. The town "where horses have the right of way" ain't horsing around. Here's a round-up of all the fun:
On Wednesday, June 1, grab your tastin' spoons, slip a pack of Tums into the pocket of your Wranglers and head out to the Activity Center at Pierson Park for the Chili Cook-Off at 5:30 p.m. ($8). On Friday, June 3 there's a Farm Fest happening at A & L Feed and Garden Supply from noon to 4 p.m. with demos on homesteadin', kids' games and lots of lil' critters (free).
Fortify your troops Saturday, June 4 at the pancake breakfast at Azalea Hall from 8 to 10:30 a.m ($7, $4 kids) before watching the parade going down Central Avenue at 11 a.m. (free). After the cars, horses, kiddos and clowns strut their stuff, make your way to the festival at Pierson Park from noon to 4 p.m. (free). There you'll find music, barbecue, the Pony Express Saloon, a horseshoe tournament and bushels of family fun. For more horsey excitement, check out the gymkhana (competitive games on horseback) all day Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 at the Kjer Road Arena (free).
Kinetic Grand Championship 2016 Day 2
Kinetic Grand Championship 2016
The creativity, ingenuity and stamina involved in pulling off the world-famous "Triathlon of the Art World," the Kinetic Grand Championship, May 28 to 30 (free), is a thing to behold. The event started 47 years ago with a playful challenge from one artist to another and featured founder Hobart Brown's Pentacycle and a mere three blocks of madness. It has grown into the Memorial Day Weekend juggernaut of today, covering 42 miles of land, water, mud and sand, and sparking a handful of local, dedicated kinetic-related organizations. Someone you know is connected to the race somehow. Call it One Degree of Kinetic Nation.
If you have family in town for the holiday weekend, make sure to work the spectacle into your plans. Start at the Arcata Plaza on Saturday between 10 a.m. and noon to watch the racers take a few laps around McKinley under the scrutiny of the newly crowned Rutabaga Queen Poisin Candie and a sizable crowd of enthusiasts. They'll then head off on Samoa Boulevard to Manila for the first leg, where at 1 p.m., you can watch them tumble, slide and flop down Deadman's Drop before making their way through Eureka, ending at Halvorsen Park. Sunday, they head south through Loleta and Fernbridge to the finish line on Main Street in Ferndale on Monday. Along the way, there are parties and organized shenanigans. For a complete schedule of the insanity, go to www.kineticgrandchampionship.com.