Entertainment for whole family at Sonoma County’s farmers markets

The days are growing longer and warmer, which means it’s time to kick back and spend time with some farmers, the rock stars of Sonoma County.

In the late spring, a handful of Sonoma County’s seasonal farmers markets open their booths in the cool, evening air, luring in the after-work crowd with the twang of live music and the aroma of tri-tip, chicken and oysters sizzling on the grill.

From Sonoma and Petaluma to Occidental and Cloverdale, these evening markets offer more than just the fresh fruit and veggies grown by the farmers whose produce we love. It also means grabbing a beer with friends, gnawing on a pizza or turkey leg and enjoying a few tunes provided gratis by local musicians such as harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite and guitarist Eric Lindell.

Here’s a roundup of what you can expect on your town’s streets and squares this summer.

Santa Rosa Wednesday Night Market: This 27-year-old granddaddy of night markets launches on Wednesday, May 6, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and runs through Aug. 26, along Fourth Street, plus D and E streets, in downtown Santa Rosa.

As a new attraction, the Wine Garden is adding craft beer to its menu every week, keeping hopheads happy. In addition to the farmers’ booths, there’s a kids’ corner, three stages with music, roving performers and about 130 street vendors.

This Wednesday, Levi Lloyd and the 501 Band will kick off with blues, rock and soul on the main stage. Those interested in swing dancing will enjoy three swing bands on May 20, plus a contest for best costume. The Water Smart Expo will be educating consumers on May 27, and Country Night brings out the twang on July 27.

Cloverdale Certified Farmers Market: This market is a pop-up party from 5:30 p.m. to dusk on Fridays, May 29 to Sept. 4, along Cloverdale Boulevard. It segues into the Friday Night Live concerts, which start at 7 p.m. on the plaza.

Along with produce and crafts, there are vendors selling food, wine and craft beers by the glass, plus lots of kids’ activities.

The Friday Night Live lineup kicks off its “Summer of Soul” with the blues-rock music of Tommy Castro & The Painkillers on May 29, followed by the “blue-eyed soul” of Eric Lindell & Co. on June 5 and “gospel R&B” of Melvin Seals and JGB on June 12. The series comes to a close on a high note with bluesman Charlie Musselwhite on Sept. 4.

Petaluma Evening Farmers Market: This year, the market will expand to a two-block stretch of Second Street, between B and D Street, in the trendy Theater District, on Wednesday nights from 4:30 to 8 p.m., June 3 through Aug. 26. The lineup opens June 3 with Soul Daddy at B Street and Elizabeth Boza in the Square.

Cotati Community Farmers Market: The biggest little farmers market in Sonoma County gets rolling at La Plaza Park, West Sierra Avenue and Old Redwood Highway. from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, June 4 through Aug. 27.

This summer, you can expect to hear the “swampy tonk” sounds of Miracle Mule on June 4, blues by The Ramblers on June 25 and country and cowboy music by Fred McCarty on Aug. 13.

The market will offer local pizza from Sal’s Pizzeria of Cotati and Mexican food from La Selva. And to liven things up, the Cotati Chamber of Commerce will be selling wine and beer.

Occidental Bohemian Certified Farmers Market: This popular market attracts folks from all over the west county from 4 p.m. to dusk on Fridays, June 5 to Oct. 30, in front of the Howard Station Cafe, 3611 Bohemian Highway.

With the mantra, “The Revolution Shops Here,” the market offers a wide range of local farmers as well as tasty food for consumers, from Gerard’s Paella to Lata’s Indian Cuisine and Raymond’s Bakery.

Rohnert Park Farmers Market: This “Party on the Plaza” takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday nights, June 5 through Aug. 28, in the library parking lot and City Center Plaza, 500 City Center Drive.

The live music kicks off with longtime locals The Sorentinos on June 5, and peaks with the Poyntlyss Sistars Rockin’ Show Band on July 3 and Beatles Flashback on Aug. 28.

There’s lots of fun stuff for the rug rats and kids of all ages, including face-painting and a jumpy house.

Windsor Certified Farmers Market: This street party runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, June 11 through Aug. 27, at the Town Green.

Popular farmers such as Sonoma Swamp Blues will bring their berries and microgreens for sale, and food booths will serve everything from Half Barbecued Lobsters from Santa Rosa Seafood to sausages from The Wurst of Healdsburg. New this year will be Goodman’s Jewish Deli, a favorite at the West End Farmers Market in Santa Rosa.

There is also a “food valet” service, set up on the west side of the Town Green, where you can order from the local restaurants and have the food delivered to where you’re sitting.

The opening band, Deke Dickerson, will provide upbeat rockabilly tunes, while harp player Charlie Musselwhite celebrates the blues on Aug. 6. Farm Night Concerts on the Green on Aug. 13, 20 and 27 will train the spotlight on the farmers, who will be introduced alongside the bands and will staff a booth where you can ask them questions.

Valley of the Moon Certified Farmers Market: This farm party takes place near City Hall on the Sonoma Plaza from 5:30 p.m. until dusk, May 5 through Oct. 27.

You can shop and chat with local farmers such as The Patch and Oakhill Farm, then picnic on the lawn in front of the music stage as well as at tables throughout the plaza.

Staff Writer Diane Peterson can be reached at 521-5287 or

Diane Peterson

Features, The Press Democrat

I’m interested in the home kitchen, from sheet-pan suppers to the latest food trends. Food encompasses the world, its many cultures, languages and history. It is both essential and sensual. I also have my fingers on the pulse of classical music in Sonoma County, from student mariachi bands to jazz crossover and symphonic sounds. It’s all a rich gumbo, redolent of the many cultures that make up our country and the world.

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