The hamlet of Bodega is part time capsule, part movie set, with an inextricable link between the historic buildings and the movie Alfred Hitchcock made there in the early 1960s.
The 19th century Potter Schoolhouse and Roman Catholic St. Teresa of Avila Church are the two main structures in the movie that stand the same as when "The Birds" was filmed.
"In a way, the filming of the movie saved the schoolhouse. It was scheduled for demolition," said Michael Fahmie, who runs the Bodega Country Store and claims to have the largest collection anywhere of memorabilia from the movie.
Built in 1859, St. Teresa is described as the oldest church in continuous use in Sonoma County. By the time Hitchcock cast his movie, it already had a claim to fame as the subject of an Ansel Adams photograph in 1953.
But it was Hitchcock's "The Birds" that keeps them stopping in Bodega to check out the community of 220 population.
"We get a lot of visitors from all over the world," said Fahmie, who has had recent tourists from Japan, Argentina, Italy, Germany and France.
"It seems the movie is even more popular internationally than with people in the U.S.," he said.
Evelyn Casini remembers how the cast, crew and caterers for the movie took over her Casino bar and grill.
"They actually fed them at my place," she said. "It was quite exciting. Hitchcock was the biggest thing at the time."
She remembers the famous director as aloof and "aware of his importance" with an "I'm bigger than God" ego.
"He was the same as you see on TV," she said of the dry, droll host of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. "I term it like a cold fish."
She recalls watching the filming of the classic scene with children running down from the school with fake birds "tied onto them and pecking them."
Nowadays, the schoolhouse is a private residence, but it's open for the festival today for docent-led tours at $25 per person.
Casini still has a couple of the props from the movie in the Casino bar — two of the black birds given to her by crew members.
Across the street from the Casino, Fahmie is on a mission to preserve what he considers a special community, as well as bringing in business.
"It's a snapshot of living in the old days," he said of Bodega, which has no traffic light and no stop sign.
"If you drive by quickly, you'll miss it," he said.
Oftentimes, people confuse Bodega Bay and Bodega, not only because of the similarity of names but in "The Birds," Hitchcock blended them into one.
But at its peak more than a century ago, Fahmie said Bodega had a population of around 2,000 with a couple of hotels, stores, a livery and "a couple of brothels from what I understand."
The area was identified with dairy products and timber sent by schooner to San Francisco.
These days, he said, the town has an assortment of people from surfers to farmers, construction workers to same-sex couples.
Today's festival benefits the Bodega Land Trust and the Rancho Bodega Historical Society.
"It's all about the history of the community. 'The Birds' is just a snapshot," he said.
Excerpt from City of Santa Rosa's Facebook page:
If you wish to make donations of food, the Redwood Empire Food Bank and St. Vincent de Paul are accepting ready-to-eat, non-perishable foods for evacuation centers. St. Vincent de Paul is located at 610 Wilson St. Phone: 707-584-1579.
Donations are being accepted at the Redwood Empire Food Bank at 3990 Brickway Blvd. between the hours 8am-8pm. The food bank also needs volunteers. Sign up online at refb.org/volunteer.
Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa also takes food donations. Please call 707-528-8712.
The shelters are also at capacity for donated clothing. However, the Salvation Army is accepting clothes and supplies at 93 Stony Point Circle. Call 707 542-0981 for more information.
For financial donations, the Redwood Credit Union has established a North Bay Relief Fund – 100 percent of donations go to fire victims. Go to www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief to donate.
Thank you, again, for your generous support!</