Weddings, art and outlandish get-ups galore at Rivertown Revival

Thousands gathered Saturday at Petaluma's Steamer Landing Park to enjoy the event, which harkens back to the early 1900s.|

Wearing a black suit and fake gun in his holster, Michael Solis took his place Saturday beneath an upright boat on a hill and waited for his bride.

Jade Dang, gussied up as a saloon girl, walked the aisle, hay crunching beneath her black lace-up boots. Reaching the boat, she clasped hands with her future husband and the ceremony began.

“Ahoy, ladies and gentlemen,” Petaluma Vice Mayor Gabe Kearney said.

And so it went at Petaluma’s Rivertown Revival, where $5 marriages, old-timey music and mildly risqué clothing were brought together Saturday with entertaining zeal.

Thousands gathered in near-perfect summer weather at Steamer Landing Park to enjoy the event, which harkens back to the early 1900s, when the Petaluma River teemed with flat-bottomed schooners shipping eggs, grain and livestock from the south Sonoma County port town to San Francisco.

Solis, a cashier at a feed store, looked the part in his fancy wedding suit, as did Dang, who is a server at Dempsey’s Restaurant and Brewery.

The couple had an infinite number of choices where to get married but settled on the festival because of the cost and proximity to their apartment across the river.

“No matter how far we get carried away from Petaluma, we can always come back here,” Solis said.

Solis’ aunt, Kate Cullen of Modesto, said the marriage planning was “hassle-free.”

“They’re happy,” she said of the couple.

So was 10-year-old Peter Canale, after the McNear Elementary School student wrapped up a set with Mr. Caterpillar’s Bug Jug Band on the Boat Dock stage.

Peter, who plays mandolin in the sextet, said he found the experience “much less nerve-wracking” than when he played at a recent competition.

Said one of his bandmates, fiddle player Isaac Bacon, “I just like to play music.”

Diane Maloney and her family from Fair Oaks, near Sacramento, have made the event an annual tradition.

She and her daughter, 6-year-old Maddie, made a piece of art out of a golf ball, seashell and lamb figurine for an exhibit that invited audience participation.

“It’s very eclectic,” Maloney said of the revival, which also featured boat races.

Lyn Grosser of Petaluma said the event offers a different way for her to express herself.

She wore a corset, black skirt and hosiery, all of which she bought on consignment from a burlesque dancer.

Cathleen Swanson of Sonoma compared the event favorably to other events she has attended where period costumes are encouraged.

“It feels relaxed,” she said.

She said her mission was to find gluten-free beer or cider.

The Rivertown Revival benefits the David Yearsley River Heritage Center, and will raise funds for staffing and programs developed by the Friends of the Petaluma River at Steamer Landing Park.

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or On Twitter @deadlinederek.

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