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Let the Party Begin 

This weekend is just the beginning of a celebration we hope lasts all year. We're having a party for Journal readers on the Eureka Boardwalk, Foot of F, from 6-9 p.m. to coincide with the hours of Arts Alive! We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the North Coast Journal and our return later this month to where it all started - F Street in Old Town.

First, a little history: Some of you likely remember the North Coast View, a popular, full-color monthly magazine of arts and culture - with a little left-leaning politics thrown in. The View ceased publication in 1989, leaving a big hole in alt news coverage in Humboldt County. Tom Abate, currently a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, along with his wife, Mia Ousley, founded the North Coast Journal of Politics, People & Art in January 1990. It was a black-and-white folded up "quarterfold" newspaper and each month it had only one topic. For instance, there was a complete issue devoted to Louisiana Pacific's new plant start-up in Mexico, moving potential jobs south of the California-Mexico border. It was serious journalism, but for the record, both publications were more or less labors of love. It's another way of saying they didn't make enough money to be sustainable in the long run.

Tom was accepted to graduate school that fall at Columbia School of Journalism and he has gone on to a distinguished career. At the time, three of us (me, current partner Carolyn Fernandez and former partner Rose Welsh) were running an ad agency, called Adworks, and we were very familiar with the Journal. Long story short, we bought the paper in June 1990 after just six issues under the direction of Tom and Mia, and we immediately turned it into the tabloid-format, multi-topic sectional publication you see today. Our first edition, also monthly, was July 1990. It wasn't until September 1998 that we started weekly publication.

But back to the party Saturday. We have no idea how many people to expect since we are not asking for RSVPs. I apologize in advance if you can't get near the little food tents that will be serving wonderful complimentary appetizers (courtesy of our new neighbors, the restaurants of Old Town). You should have less trouble getting a beverage from the wine and beer garden, a no-host bar with proceeds going to the Sequoia Park Zoo. Mostly, we hope everyone will be dancing in the streets to the free concert (Magnum, Delta Nationals, Samba na Chuva and Josephine Johnson), courtesy of the Journal, Eureka Main Street and KHUM.

Later this month we will be moving into  a wonderful space that has been vacant for 20 years and recently renovated by landlord/architect Jack Freeman. We will also have some look-back special coverage and features in the Journal celebrating our first 20 years.

For research on an upcoming edition, I just finished re-reading the July 1990 edition cover to cover. I am certainly as proud of the quality of journalism we did back then as I am with what we are producing today. And I was struck by all the local independent businesses that supported us from Day 1. It has been the key to our success and we sincerely thank them. We will be featuring many in an upcoming series of ads. In the meantime, here are just a few that you can thank personally if you have enjoyed reading the Journal these past two decades: Miller Farms, the North Coast Co-op, Pierson's, Wildwood Music, the Mateel Community Center, Abruzzi and Plaza Grill, Garberville Chamber of Commerce and Willow Creek merchants, Lost Coast Brewery and Times Printing.

There are also a few businesses that supported us in those early days that are no longer around and we miss very much. Damn! Deborah Lazio Productions brought Lyle Lovett and Kris Kristofferson to town in July 1990 - not on the same bill, of course. And White Rose Designs? Didn't we love the annual factory sale?

A final note on the party: Music starts at 6 p.m., but come down an hour early if you want to hang out and meet the Journal staff, who will be setting up. And - at exactly 7 p.m. - we invite all current and former Journal employees to gather for a photo. And I just heard from Tom Abate. He'll be there for the photo, too.

See you Saturday.

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Judy Hodgson

Judy Hodgson is the publisher of the North Coast Journal.

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