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Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival: A Spring Spectacular in Sonoma County

Tucked away on the stunning Pacific Coast of Sonoma County, California, Bodega Bay is the ideal location for your next spring getaway. The city has a storied history that dates back over 200 years. The early years in Bodega Bay saw a lot of change, from original Native American residents to the Spanish and Russian explorers who established settlements in the area. After Mexico won its independance in the mid 19th century, much of the land in the area was granted to Mexican soldiers and citizens. American settlers from the east came to the area and began to challenge the Mexican land claims. The Mexican-American War broke out, and when all was said and done in 1850, California became the 31st state in the United States. Since then, people have flocked to the area for the rich land, access to the ocean, breathtaking vistas and the remarkable weather.


Now, this beautiful coastal fishing village has a population of over 1,200 and features enough activities and things to do to fill up multiple vacations. Bodega Bay is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. You’ll find a stunning coastline covered in beaches, rock formations, and cliffs. During a trip to the coast, you may even catch a glimpse of the majestic migrating whales making their way through the bay. The city is also home to beautiful public parks, multiple championship level golf courses, ample opportunities for horseback riding and more.


Sonoma County is also well known as being the heart of California’s famed Wine Country. Not far from town you’ll find lush vineyards and wineries, and with them opportunities for tours and samplings. The dining and nightlife scene here is lively and features a diverse selection of restaurants, pubs, and bars to choose from. A great way to see Bodega Bay in its full glory is during a big local event like the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival.


For over four decades, the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival has been a staple for the local community. This family-friendly event lasts two full days and takes place right on the beautiful shores of Bodega Bay Harbor. Over 6,000 people will make their way to town for the festival, increasing the population of the city by almost a factor of five. There are a series of great activities for kids and adults alike. Live demonstrations will be taking place throughout the event and they’ll even have a parade which features local fishing boats that are festively decorated for the event. Food and refreshments will be available at various vendors and there will also be a group of artisans selling unique wares.


Make your next family adventure one for the ages and head to sunny Bodega Bay for the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival. got the chance to interview Brooks Rooney, Chair for the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival, to talk about this fun event.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

BR: Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival began in 1958 and at that time was known as Discovery Days. Over the years, the Festival has evolved from a one-day event to a two-day event.  The location of the event has also moved from the local school playground to Westside Park, which is located on the shores of Bodega Bay Harbor. In 1973, it was renamed Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival and this year we are celebrating the 43rd Annual.


This event draws over 6,000 people and has something for every member of the family. Children are drawn to the UC Marine Lab’s Tide Pool, a Kid’s Zone featuring bounce houses and a rock climbing wall. There are musical groups performing throughout the day, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The local fire departments are onsite with their equipment, which kids are encouraged to climb in and on. The US Coast Guard demonstrates water rescues and the Sheriff’s helicopter comes in for a landing. There are over 60 crafters selling handmade merchandise and you’ll also find a large selection of local cuisine.


RAL: What can people expect to find at the festival?

BR: On Saturday, local teams of four build wooden boats in the morning and race each other in the afternoon. This is a huge crowd pleaser. On Sunday, our local fisherman decorate their boats and parade in front on the festival as they head out to the Bay for the yearly “Blessing of the Fishing Fleet”. They then parade back by the festival.


RAL: What can people find for local lodging?

BR: There are several County RV parks and a handful of motels and comfortable  accommodations. You’ll also find a large selection of home rentals in the area for those who come for the weekend.  Bodega Bay offers fine cuisine that focuses on locally grown ingredients like fresh fish, lamb, and chicken.


RAL: What does the event mean to the community?

BR: This Festival is 100% staffed and run by volunteers. The money raised is returned to our local non-profit organizations including fire departments, school programs and scholarships. Last fall the festival made a large contribution to the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Fund to help fishermen who were unable to fish for crab this season.


RAL: Why should people come?

BR: The Bodega Bay area is truly a “paradise” and the views are breathtaking. Those attending the festival are always so impressed with how friendly everyone is and look forward to returning the next year.

For more information about the Bodega Bay Fisherman's Festival, please visit their website.