It's that time again—the season of jack-o'-lanterns, raking leaves, feasts, gatherings and a bounty of entertainment throughout the North Bay. From Labor Day to Thanksgiving, there are huge music festivals, live theater productions, extravagant wine country weekends, festive art fairs and so much more happening in Sonoma and Napa counties. You can't do it all, but our annual Fall Arts Guide does lay it all out.
Sonoma County Fermentation Festival The annual event, formerly called the Farm to Fermentation Fest, is a veritable mecca of pickled, cultured and fermented foods, from kimchi to chocolate. The day of tasting features artisan culinary vendors, with ciders, beers and meads washing down the diverse array of bites. Proceeds from drink sales will go to the Sebastopol Grange Hall, a organization that supports the farmers and sustainable food movement in Sonoma County. Saturday, Sept. 2, Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma. 11am to 5pm. $20–$45. fermentfestival.com.
Taste of Sonoma Sonoma Wine Country Weekend's annual tasting event has a new location, look and palette of flavors to celebrate the region throughout Labor Day weekend. Bookended by a schedule of winemaker lunches, dinners and bbqs at several restaurants and wineries on Friday and Sunday, Saturday's Taste of Sonoma takes over the lawn at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center, with thousands of glasses of wines on hand and chefs from around the county preparing delectable bites. Live music, chef demos, seminars and more round out the premiere event on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Green Music Center, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Noon to 4pm. $180. sonomawinecountryweekend.com.
Sonoma County Cajun Zydeco & Delta Rhythm Festival This popular New Orleans–inspired festival boasts a full weekend of nationally known and critically acclaimed bands split into two days of entertainment. Day one embraces the spirited rhythms of zydeco, with acts like CZ & the Bon Vivants and the Blues Box Bayou Band. Day two goes rockabilly, with San Francisco trio the RevTones and Los Angeles outfit Kim Lenz & the Jaguars, and others. Art, wine and beer, Cajun cuisine and more are also on hand. Sept. 2–3, Ives Park, 400 Willow St., Sebastopol. 11:30am–7pm. $25–$50; kids under 12, free. winecountrycajun.com.
Fishstock There will be fun and food at Fishstock, the annual fundraiser for the Jenner Community Club. Enjoy chowder tasting, barbecue salmon, offerings from local wineries and breweries, live music from the Thugz and others, an ice cream parlor, a raffle and more in a Summer of Love–themed day by the sea. Sept. 3. 10398 Hwy. 1, Jenner. 11am–5pm. $5; kids free. visitjenner.com.
National Heirloom Exposition Dubbed the "World's Pure Food Fair," this massive expo of food providers and enthusiasts brings together chef demos, displays, live music, a giant pumpkin contest, antique tractors and plenty of good food benefiting school gardening education. Sept. 5–7. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $10–$25; kids free. theheirloomexpo.com.
Sonoma Film Institute The oldest film repertory organization in the North Bay hosts another season of screenings featuring classic films and contemporary cinema. The first feature film directed by John Cassavetes, Shadows, screens on Sept. 8 and 10. The final film from iconic Polish director Andrzej Wajda, Afterimage, makes its North Bay premiere Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. The classic Mexican Western, Tiempo de Morir (Time to Die), written by Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, screens Nov. 3 and 5. Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Fridays, 7pm; Sundays, 4pm. sonoma.edu/sfi.
Hands Across the Valley Benefiting Napa Valley food programs, including the Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, the Table, and the Salvation Army, the 25th annual event features tastings from many noted Napa chefs and winemakers, silent and live auctions, and dancing under the stars. Sept. 9. Charles Krug Winery, 2800 Main St., St. Helena. 4pm. $125 and up. handsacrossthevalley.com.
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Rooted in the ranching and farming tradition, this touring event intersects the cowboy life with music and entertainment. Performers for the evening include Gail Steiger, Caitlyn Taussi, Amy Hale Auker and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Sept. 9. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Drive, Yountville. 7pm. $20. lincolntheater.com.
Sundown Get Down Formerly known as di Party di Rosa, this 16th annual fundraiser for the unique Carneros region art gallery features al fresco dining in the center's courtyard, live auction filled with art experience packages, live music, dancing and special guests. Sept. 9. di Rosa, 5200 Sonoma Hwy., Napa. 5:30pm. $300. dirosaart.org.
Art in the Park Petaluma Arts Association presents the 60th annual community art event, that lets the public meet and view the works of several local artists. Works in various media will fill Walnut Park as paintings, sculptures, jewelry and more mingle among a lineup of live music, food vendors and more. Sept. 9–10, Petaluma Boulevard South and D Street, Petaluma. 10am to 5pm. Free. petalumaarts.org.
Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival A rich tradition of blues and jazz more than 40 years strong, this weekend under the sun features headliners like songstress Stephanie Mills, East Bay legends Tower of Power, the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and others performing on the Russian River. A wine garden, international food court and kayaking and canoeing also await. Sept. 9–10. Johnson's Beach, 16241 First St., Guerneville. 10am–6pm. $55 and up. russianriverfestivals.com.
Chautauqua Revue The revue is back and still finds ways to include new twists, with musicians, dancers, storytellers, performers and clowns keeping audiences on their toes while honoring the traditions of the original Chautauqua events from a hundred years ago. This revue always sells out, so act fast. Sept. 14–16. Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, 15290 Coleman Valley Road, Occidental. Thursday–Saturday, 7:30pm; children's matinee, Saturday, 2pm. $10 and up. Kids under five are free. 707.874.1557.
Music Festival for Brain Health Immaculately coiffed and acoustically gifted performer Lyle Lovett headlines the 23rd annual fundraising affair, which also includes science symposiums and wine tastings. Sept. 16. Staglin Family Vineyard, 1570 Bella Oaks Lane, Rutherford. music-festival.org.
Petaluma River Craft Beer Festival This event is all about the beer. A short list of the breweries participating includes Henhouse, Lagunitas, 101 North, Fieldwork, Headlands, Heretic, Plow, Fogbelt and Bear Republic. There are also food tastings, live music and more, Sept. 16, Water Street, Petaluma (21 and over only). 1–5pm. $40; $20 for designated drivers. petalumarivercraftbeerfest.org.
Art for Life 2017 Support Face-to-Face/Sonoma County AIDS Network in its mission to end HIV in the North Bay, and get some fine art from hundreds of generous donors at this 30th annual auction and party. Sept. 16. Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. 2–6pm. $50 and up. 707.544.1581.
Old Grove Festival It's hard to find better acoustics in the heart of the Armstrong Woods than the 1930s-era, open-air Redwood Forest Theater, home of the annual Old Grove Festival. Headlining the festival this year is Dead Winter Carpenters, with One Grass Two Grass opening the night. Bring flashlights, seat cushions and warm clothes. Sept. 16. Redwood Forest Theater, 17000 Armstrong Woods Road, Guerneville. 4:30pm. $35–$80. One child free with paying adult. 707.869.9177.
Napa Valley Aloha Festival The Manaleo Hawaiian Cultural Foundation hosts this 10th annual event covering two days and including live music and dance from the Hawaiian and Polynesian communities, along with Hawaiian food, arts and crafts. Sept. 16–17. Napa Valley Expo, 575 Third St., Napa. Saturday,10am–6pm; Sunday, 10am–4pm. Free (bring a canned food for donation). 707.418.8588.
Open Studios Napa Valley Art studios from all stretches of Napa Valley are open for this 30th annual event, taking place over the last two weekends in September. Self-guided tours feature dozens of diverse artists working in several media. The event is juried, and unlike other open studio tours in the North Bay, the artists run the entire affair. (Many also show their work at Jessel Gallery, 1019 St., Napa.) The tours run Sept. 16–17 and 23–24. 10am to 5pm. Maps and info at artnv.org.
Petaluma Poetry Walk Bipedal-powered literary event is back for its 22nd year. Readings are scattered throughout downtown Petaluma within easy walking distance of each other, featuring celebrated poets and music. Sept. 17. 11am–8pm. Free. Check website for schedule. petalumapoetrywalk.org.
Fiesta de Independencia Celebrate Mexico's independence and Latino Heritage Month with a day-long fiesta featuring authentic food, music, games and activities for the entire family. Dance to live mariachi bands and swing at piñatas. Sept. 18. Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 1pm to 7pm. Free. 707.546.3600.
Wine Country Film Festival Cinematic magic takes over the Sonoma valley for the 31st annual festival. Feature-length and short films of every genre are presented throughout Kenwood and Glen Ellen, with attending industry specialists, musical performances and workshops. Sept. 20–25. 707.935.3456.
Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival One of the oldest and biggest parties in the Sonoma Valley is back for its 120th year with live music, amazing food, spectacular wines and family activities like the traditional grape stomp, a light-up parade and more. With a focus on local culture and community, this vintage fest is organized by local volunteers and benefits several Sonoma County nonprofits and projects. Sept. 22–24 at Sonoma Plaza, First St. E., Sonoma. valleyofthemoonvintagefestival.com.
Santa Rosa Toy Con Nerd-tastic convention offers three buildings of comics, toys, games and collectibles from over 200 vendors. Special guests include original Star Trek actors Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig and Andrew Bryniarski. There's also the annual cosplay competition, Lego exhibition and more in store. Sept. 23. Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. Early-bird opening at 9am. $25; regular opening, 10am. $15. santarosatoycon.com.
Earle Fest Annual benefit concert event for the Earle Baum Center brings together two stages of music, food vendors, art and more. Los Angeles rockers Los Lobos headline the day-long pop-up event, with support from California Honeydrops, Tift Merritt, Nina Gerber, Timothy O'Neil, Dirty Cello, Charley Peach and others. Sept. 23. SOMO Village Events Center, 1100 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park. 3pm. $55. somoconcerts.com.
Call of the Wild Jack London State Park hosts this second annual gala fundraiser under the stars and among the ruins of Wolf House. Commemorating the author's formative time spent in Oakland, the park transforms into the vintage watering hole, Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon, where London frequently sought inspiration for his writing. The immersive evening also features actors participating in period-piece interactions, Sonoma-made whiskey, catering and more. Sept. 23. 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen. 6pm. $200. 707.938.1003.
Sonoma County Philharmonic Community-based nonprofit organization revels in a new season of orchestral performances. First, conductor Norman Gamboa leads the symphony for a program titled "In Nature's Realm," Sept. 30–Oct. 1. Next, special guest violin and viola players Pam Otsuka and Robby Morales join the philharmonic for "Fanfare & Concerto" on Nov. 18–19. Santa Rosa High School Performing Arts Auditorium, 1235 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm. $10–$15; students, free. socophil.org.
Summer of Love Celebration The music lovers at B.R. Cohn Winery in Sonoma Valley are putting together a throwback extravaganza to cap off the North Bay's ongoing Summer of Love events. The massive weekend boasts live music, food and communal vibes. Saturday's blowout party includes music by Creatures of Habit and Chick Jagger, while Sunday's mellow experience features sets by Kristen Van Dyke and Dustin Saylor. Sept. 30–Oct. 1. 15000 Sonoma Hwy., Glen Ellen. 707.938.4585.