Nine under-the-radar festivals not to miss around the Bay Area
Let’s call them pocket festivals, those precious mini-paloozas that often struggle to make ends meet and never get the acclaim of the big boys. But, for their devoted fans they’ve become can’t-miss perennial gatherings. Here’s a quick run through worthy boutique festivals close to home and around the Bay Area:
Healdsburg Jazz Festival – Through June 7
Eddie Palmieri, George Cables and rising star Adam Theis headline this 17th annual jazz lover’s paradise. $20-$65. See Healdsburg venues at healdsburgjazzfestival.org.
Huichica, Sonoma – June 12-13
Atlas Sound, the Allah-Las and a dozen other bands anchor winemaker (and former musician) Jeff Bundschu’s celebration of wine, food (KronnerBurgers anyone?) and indie music. $40-$120. Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. www.huichica.com.
Mendocino Music Festival – July 11-25
Everything from bluegrass and classical to blues and jazz is on display at this picturesque festival on the coast. $12-$49. See Mendocino venues at mendocinomusic.org.
Festival del Sole, Napa Valley – July 15-26
Jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert stands out at this swanky 10-day celebration of music, dance and theater (along with food and wine). $449 four-night pass/$10,000 full festival pass. See Napa Valley locations atfestivaldelsole.org.
Rivertown Revival, Petaluma – July 18
This throwdown for the “Greatest Slough on Earth” (aka the Petaluma River) features marching bands for kids, art boats, a sculpture walk and $5 weddings – all to benefit the David Yearsley River Heritage Center. Steamer Landing Park. For ticket info, go to rivertownrevival.com.
Berkeley Kite Festival – July 25-26
One of the cheapest and most lively family fests in the Bay Area features kite-building lessons, team kite flying, taiko drumming and for the fiercest of competitors – Rokkaku kite fighting. Free. Berkeley Marina, Berkeley. highlinekites.com.
Gravenstein Apple Fair, Sebastopol – Aug. 8-9
Pie-eating, apple juggling and caramel-apple scarfing competitions get the most laughs at this 42nd annual farm fest. $15 adults/$10 kids. Ragle Ranch Regional Park, 500 Ragle Road, Sebastopol. gravensteinapplefair.com.
Bodega Seafood Art and Wine Festival – Aug. 29-30
David Luning, Poor Man’s Whiskey and Dgiin showcase the rich Sonoma County music scene and Carolyn Wonderland arrives from Austin with pipes to rival Janis Joplin. Watts Ranch, 16855 Bodega Highway, Bodega. Look for ticket info in June atbodegaseafoodfestival.com.
Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival, Santa Rosa – Sept. 26
Nosh on 150 varieties of homegrown ‘maters harvested from the winery culinary garden – all to the tune of cajun music by Andre Theirry. $95. Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, 5007 Fulton Road, Fulton. kj.com/visit-tomato-festival.