It’s hard to believe it’s time for the 38th annual Fisherman’s Festival. This year it’s on April 30 and May 1st at Westside Park in Bodega Bay.
The Fisherman’s Festival is always packed with music, food, and entertainment. A favorite attraction is the wine tasting booth, featuring more than 25 Sonoma County wines. Food booths have something for every pallet from lamb or oyster barbeque to local fish and chips, to vegi burders, salads, and sandwiches. Live music and entertainers perform on the band stage all day Saturday and Sunday. Artisans and vendors from all over California and beyond offer a wide selection of arts and crafts.
The festival has its origin as a celebration of the start of the Salmon fishing season and the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Saturday will feature a golf tournament at Bodega Harbour (707-875-3538) and at the Festival site itself a wooden boat challenge where participating teams build a vessel and then compete in a boat race.
Sunday morning will feature the blessing of the fishing fleet, when decorated boats parade out of the harbor to receive a blessing from local clergy. A flower wreath is cast upon the waters honoring the fishermen lost at sea. The festival is a great venue for kids, with a play area for face painting, spin paintings, games, free kit lessons, pony rides and llamas (and guest pets) on parade. There will be a drawing for raffle prizes from local merchants.
The Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival is a nonprofit organization run by local community volunteers under the leadership of chair Ginny Bassi. All proceeds of the festival benefit local service and volunteer organizations. For more information call the Bodega Bay Visitors’ Center at 707-875-3866.
Blessing of The Fleet
Sunday’s Blessing of the Fishing Fleet is the highlight of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival. These solemn annual blessings had their start more than 50 years ago when the event was part of the ‘Discovery Days Celebration’ and we had a thriving commercial fishing industry. Today it is part and parcel of the annual Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival weekend. (Discovery Days commemorated the discovery of Bodega Bay by Lt. Bodega y Quadra while surveying these waters for the Spanish in 1775).
At the first ‘Discovery Days Celebration’ event in 1958, some 17 festively decorated boats were blessed in the parade – appropriately led by Eddie, William and Steve Smith, members from the large local Miwok Indian family which began the commercial fishing industry in Bodega Bay in the 1920′s.
Today, even with a declining industry, the traditional annual blessing of the fishing fleet is an important observance for the entire community and acknowledges the key role of those who farm the seas, often at great risk to themselves. Local clergy officiate at the Blessing and a flower wreath is cast upon the waters honoring the fishermen lost at sea.
So come for some or all of the celebrations, it’s always a good time and it’s for a great cause too!