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Spotlight on Petaluma

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THINGS TO DO IN PETALUMA

Film Fest Petaluma

Petaluma Film Alliance curates a world of cinema with its annual Film Fest Petaluma, showcasing shorts from several countries as well as locally made mini-films. This year's ninth installment of the festival once again promises to pack the historic McNear's Mystic Theatre in downtown Petaluma with a full day of screenings. Broken into four blocks of programming, Film Fest Petaluma kicks off with one of Alliance's favorite North Bay filmmakers, SRJC student Miles Levin, who makes his fourth consecutive appearance with "Little Soldiers," about a young boy who makes a puzzling discovery in the woods. Among the diverse lineup of films, including entries from New Zealand, Ethiopia, Argentina and other locales, several other North Bay talents make their mark. Jarrod Wallace examines our final moments with the one-take short "The End." Louie Poore follows a young boy who believes he can fly in the imaginative film "Lift." And Sonoma State University student Ken Davis' short thriller "Labeled" features an online order that's more than meets the eye. Film Fest Petaluma screens on Saturday, May 6, at the Mystic Theatre, 23 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Noon. $10–$30. filmfestpetaluma.com.

Cruisin' the Boulevard

"Where were you in '62?" That's the question that birthed George Lucas' seminal 1973 film, American Graffiti, and the annual event Cruisin' the Boulevard that salutes the movie. Largely filmed in Petaluma and featuring a nostalgic blend of classic cars and adolescent craziness, American Graffiti is Lucas' personal vision of growing up in Northern California, and much of downtown Petaluma still retains much of that classic, small-town appeal today. Founded in 2005, Cruisin' the Boulevard recreates the scene and relives the excitement with three days of vintage fun. First, the Jump Start dinner at Cattleman's Restaurant gets the weekend in gear on Thursday, May 18. The following day, the Cruise-In and Kickoff Social invites everyone to show off their hot rods in a casual setting, with entertainment and activities. The weekend wraps on Saturday, May 20, with the official classic car show that takes to the same streets seen in the film. Oldies will be playing on 88.1-FM, and local merchants and vendors add to the throwback theatrics. Proceeds from the event will raise funds for local arts, education and welfare programs. For vehicle registration and other info, visit americangraffiti.net.

Art & Garden Festival

Since its inception 16 years ago, Petaluma's Art & Garden Festival has blossomed from a simple street fair to an extravaganza that highlights hundreds of local vendors and live entertainment. Past years have featured performances from local favorites like Soul Section and Foxes in the Henhouse, blasting feel-good tunes while local restaurants, wineries and brewers offer bites, wines and brews for tasting and North Bay artisans display crafts. With a focus on gardening, the event is the perfect place to shop for outdoor decorations and embellishments while a kids corner chock full of fun activities makes for a family-friendly day in the sun on July 9, Kentucky and Fourth streets, downtown Petaluma. Free admission. petalumadowntown.com.

Petaluma Music Festival

The Petaluma Music Festival's motto is "Keeping music in the schools," and now in it's 10th year, the fundraising event, which directly benefits music programs in Petaluma city schools, offers its most eclectic and impactful day of unforgettable performances yet when it returns on Aug. 5. Featuring over a dozen bands on four stages spread across the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, the festival's lineup includes first-time headliners the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, whose ramblin' roots-rock has never been better than on their latest album, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel. There's also a gaggle of North Bay psychedelic jam masters, like Scott Law & Ross James' Cosmic Twang, Stu Allen and Lebo. Performers like Poor Man's Whiskey, Midnight North and Grateful Bluegrass Boys kick in a country-rock vibe, and harmonizing groups like T Sisters and Bootleg Honey soar to new folk heights. petalumamusicfestival.org.

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