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As the days lengthen and the temperatures shoot up, umbrellas are popping up across Sonoma County, marking the opening of the summer's night markets.

It's a chance for residents from Sonoma to Windsor to celebrate the season with blackened turkey legs and gritty blues music.

There are a few people who show up early to shop for the farmers' berries and fava beans. But let's be honest: At the evening markets, most of us are seeking an easy dinner accompanied by a cold beer and some cool tunes.

It's free fun, the people-gazing is priceless, and the mood is entirely different from that of the more food-centric morning markets that draw cooks, chefs, foodies and gourmands.

Here's the rundown on what's new at the market parties this year:

Santa Rosa Wednesday Night Market: Now in its 26th year, this market pops up from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 20 along Fourth Street between Mendocino and E street.

For those who have worked up a thirst, the Wine Garden returns for its fourth year on D Street between Fourth and Fifth streets.

Four wineries pour each week, accompanied by acoustic music. It's $10 for six tastings, or $6 for three tastings.

The main stage is located at the end of Fourth Street at E, next to the farmers' booths lining E street. This Wednesday, The Deadlies bring on their surf music to the main stage.

The city of Santa Rosa will hold a Water and Green Expo on May 28. On July 23, the Wine Garden is going to switch it up with craft beers for the first time.

"That's our country night as well," said Nick Hansen, board president. "Hopefully, it will be a warm July night."

Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market: This party near City Hall on Sonoma Plaza takes place from 5:30 p.m. until dusk Tuesdays through October.

"It's kind of like a city party every Tuesday night," said Chris Welch, market manager.

"There are lots of food vendors, but lots of farmers, too."

This year, the music stage has moved and is facing away from the produce booths in order to make chatting with your favorite farmers — The Patch, Paul's Produce and Oakhill Farm — a lot easier.

You can eat at the tables throughout the plaza, or picnic on the lawn in front of the music stage.

Food vendors will include familiar faces like Mike the Baker, along with new folks such as Drums and Crumbs — yum! — a fried chicken purveyor.

Cloverdale Certified Farmers Market: This market pops up from 5:30 p.m. to dusk on Fridays along Cloverdale Boulevard, from May 30 to Aug. 29, and dances with the Friday Night Live concerts, which start at 7 p.m. on the plaza.

"We're separate, but we comingle," said Karen Tankersley, market manager. "People come early to shop."

Food vendors this year include Hamburger Ranch & BBQ and Thai Way 101 of Cloverdale, plus The Wurst of Healdsburg. There are about a dozen farmers selling products, including Red Owl Farm of Healdsburg and Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese of Mendocino.

Petaluma Evening Farmers' Market: Located in the chic Theater District, this Wednesday market runs from 4:30 to 8 p.m. June 4 through Aug. 13, with new food vendors offering everything from crepes to sushi.

"This is a much more social market than Saturday," said Alyx Cuci, market manager. "It's about coming out and eating dinner."

New this year is a booth serving Taylor Made Farms coffee and tea for those evenings when the fog rolls in through the Petaluma Gap.

The market will also feature a local, visual artist every week, who will demonstrate his painting or sculpture.

There's a live band every week, and special events include a cheese and tomato tasting on Aug. 13, with fresh mozzarella courtesy of Rosso Pizzeria.

Rohnert Park Farmers Market: Now in its fifth year, this market runs 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays, June 6 through Aug. 29, in the library parking lot and City Center Plaza.

The live music is located at the City Center Plaza, with the Pulsators opening on June 6. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to picnic, and wear your dancing shoes.

Along with the music, familiar food vendors include Pasta King and Willie Bird Turkey, plus new folks like Son of a Biscuit, offering biscuits with gravy.

The farmers are located in the library parking lot. Expect to find local favorites like the Ortiz Brothers of Santa Rosa, The Patch of Sonoma and Fulton Creek Nursery. Saetern Family Farm will sell its luscious strawberries and blackberries.

The market will be open on July 4, and kids will receive free T-shirts.

"It's extremely safe for families," said Laure Tatman, market manager. "The police station looks right down on it."

Windsor Certified Farmers Market: This popular party runs from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays, from June 12 and through Aug. 28, on the Town Green.

You can choose from a wide range of "international al fresco food," including barbecue and ravioli, and wash it all down with wine, beer and margaritas.

There are about a half-dozen farmers, selling popular items like tomatoes and berries, but it's wise to get there early if you want to shop. Parking can be challenging once the music starts at 6 p.m.

The bands this year include old stand-bys like Tommy Castro and Tainted Love, Gator Nation and the California Honeydrops.

"We try to have a different genre of music every week," said Tina Castelli, market manager. "We end the season every year with Beatles Flashback."

Just don't show up on July 3. That's the night of the town's Fourth of July party, and the market is closed.

<i>You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com. </i>

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