It's springtime in Humboldt and everything's coming up rhodies.
This year, there's a big hoopla happening in the world of the brightly colored flora as Eureka hosts the International Convention of the American Rhododendron Society, "Rhododendrons in the Redwoods," April 27-30 with activities centered at The Red Lion Hotel and the Sequoia Conference Center (prices vary for events, see www.eurekarhody.org for details/registration). The conference features local speakers and those from as far away as France — presentations, tours, a photography show and plant sale, as well as a free presentation on soils on Sunday, April 30 at 11 a.m. in the plant sale tent in the hotel parking lot.
The convention coincides with another annual rhododendron event, the Rhododendron Festival and Parade, a Humboldt county tradition that sees flowered floats, horses, kids on bikes, vintage cars, school bands and local dignitaries waving to the crowds as the procession winds its way through Eureka. The parade is on Saturday, April 29 starting at 10 a.m. in Henderson Center, traveling east on Seventh Street, south on H Street, west on Henderson and concluding near the Eureka Mall (free). After the parade, step back in time at Fort Humboldt during the annual Dolbeer Steam Donkey Days, when the Timber Heritage Association cranks up the historic Falk shay locomotive, offers speeder train rides and gives logging and equipment demos until 4:30 p.m. (free).
Get piggy with it Sunday, April 30 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Redwood Fields at the Spamley Cup Cook-Off, the culinary competition that pits processed pork recipes against each other to raise money for CASA of Humboldt ($10, kids under 12 free). There's live music, games for the kids, raffles and silent auctions. Nibble to your heart's content and vote for your favorite SPAM dish
You can start your weekend a little early up at the Mad River Brewery Tap Room around 6 p.m. with some swingin' jazz courtesy of locals Fred & Jr. (no relation) and all for free. In Arcata you'll find the Fickle Hill Band at the Redwood Curtain Brewery at 8 p.m. also playing for free. Comprised of talented and long-time local rock musicians, you'll hear some rock standards you know and love, and some great rock/jams from these fellas.
If you'd like to stuff your face with something a little less salty, head over to Eureka First Presbyterian Church from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 29 for Humboldt Pie #10 (free admission), Tri-County Independent Living's pie-baking/eating fundraiser. There you can win cash for shoveling it in faster than anyone else or just take your sweet time and indulge.
There's something big afoot in Willow Creek. On Saturday, April 29, the Finding Bigfoot Festival at Veteran's Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (free) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the world-famous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film (that grainy footage shot in Orleans of a lumbering dark creature looking over its shoulder as it hurries across a creek bed) and there are some big names in town to commemorate. Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot reality series — about the four researchers and explorers (including homegrown James "Bobo" Fay) who investigate potential evidence of Mr. Tall, Dark and Pungent — will be in town filming a special two-hour episode. It's kind of a big, hairy deal.
The festival starts with a parade through town at 10 a.m. from the China Flat Museum, followed by an all-day party with a large Kid's Zone, music performances by Jimi Jeff & The Gypsy Band, Crooked Trees, Ju Drum and others, vendors and a live broadcast by KSLG. The cast of Finding Bigfoot will judge a round of Bigfoot Competitions, so gargle some warm salt water and try your Best Bigfoot Call, or offer up your Best Bigfoot Knocking or Most Authentic Footprint. (Heads up, there's also a logging and ax-throw competition.) And Bigfoot legend Bob Gimlin hosts a showing of his famous footage. Bring your camera to snap a selfie with Bobo and his Animal Planet cohorts or ... to capture the best evidence of the elusive ape yet.
Heavy rains — this roadside puddle becomes a small lake, a few days' wonder that must be driven 'round
But look! A trio of ducks, drawn as though to a fixture on the map, paddling happily across it! For them, I'd stock it with minnows — (where do you get minnows?)
(And is my life like that, but a momentary failure in the drainage of some life force?)
But now, see, too soon, too soon, the lake is but a rising mist, over a dry bed, a low cloud through which ducks weave (the fickle things), seeking a stabler pool.
Anything better than an '80s horror-comedy film? How about '80s horror-comedy film hosted by the Great Razooly? Show up early for Robo-Cat's Horror Theater Presents: Monster Squad Friday, April 28 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Eureka Theater ($5) for a meet and greet and then sit back with your $2 popcorn for one of the genre's best. Spoiler: Wolfman's got nards.
A free show is on tap at 6 p.m. at the Mad River Brewery Tap room with the RLA Jazz Trio with Paula and Don. They'll be playing until about 8 or 8:30 p.m., and you can catch their jazz chops while enjoying some John Barleycorn. Leave the band a tip, or get 'em a beer if their pints are runnin' dry. Singer/songwriter Tom Russell has 35 albums to his name and he's at The Old Steeple tonight at 7:30 p.m. His songs have been covered by Johnny Cash, Iris Dement, and Nanci Griffith, just to name a few. You might hear songs of dust-hazed sunsets, the shifting sands under caballeros and the California snow. Get your $30 tickets quick.
Speaking of supporting recordings, Minnesota's The Cactus Blossoms are on the road for their release of You're Dreaming. Brothers Jack and Page have made stops at the Newport Folk Festival and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to name a few and have a busy year in front of them. With well-constructed harmonies and haunting guitar lines, these Blossoms have gotten good reviews for this latest release in Rolling Stone among other places. Welcome them to Humboldt tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Humboldt Brews with $10.
An early show this afternoon sees PianoVoce at the Trinidad Town Hall at 3 p.m. This recital, I'm told, is based on From the Bohemian Forest composed by Dvoák and then Carlisle Floyd's Pilgrimage: Solo Cantata on Biblical Texts. PianoVoce is comprised of Annette Gurnee Hull and Nancy Correll on the Hall's Steinway piano, Carl McGahan singing baritone and narrator Richard Duning. A $15 donation supports the Trinidad Library. Bring the kids to sing-a-long with their favorite Beatles tunes at Six Rivers Brewery at 4 p.m. played by Humboldt's favorite Fab Four fans, Silver Hammer. It's a free show, but always feel free to tip. Fans of Scottish fiddling know the name of Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Famer Alasdair Fraser and most likely a former student of his and excellent cellist Natalie Hass. Well, we're in for a treat tonight as they are taking the stage at Ferndale's Old Steeple at 7:30 p.m. Alasdair is a master of the Scottish fiddle but can also easily hop between Irish fiddle and Appalachian fiddling styles as well. He and Natalie have an instinctive chemistry on stage and whether they're playing "The Highlander's Farewell" or "Grand Etang" you'll hear the heart of Scotland beating. Jig your way down to this $30 show. And for something completely different, '90s hip hop veteran Abstract Rude (touring to support mixtape Owl's Cry) is on The Owl's Cloud Tour along with B. Squid & Friends (supporting their own Cloud 9) and will be at The Miniplex in Arcata tonight at 9 p.m. for only $10.
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