POPULAR BOOTH A local farmers booth at Climate Fest 2023 was helmed by Cindy Daniels (of SHED) and Carie Brown (Jimtown Store), and featured free lemonade and 'Earth cookies.'

With the onset of spring last week—despite the cold and rain—Healdsburg is beginning to wake up from its sleepy winter months and get back in gear as the food/wine/music destination city it has become.

No fewer than five significant annual celebrations are booked into venues in the coming three months.

Earth Day Climate Fest (April 21)

COMMUTER Naomi Turk shows off her climate-friendly sign, signaling her life-long commitment to a healthy climate future for Healdsburg.

Climate Action Healdsburg claimed such success with last year’s Climate Fest that it’s bringing it back again, with city collaboration, at the Healdsburg Plaza on Sunday, April 21. Also called Festival del Clima!, last year’s afternoon event drew more than 2,000 people to the Plaza to explore 50 booths, expanding information and awareness about climate solutions. More attendees are expected this year.

In actuality, the Sunday festival gets into gear early with a Move! Healdsburg bike ride on Friday evening, April 19, from 5-6:30pm. These monthly events from Move! Healdsburg, a work group of Climate Action Healdsburg, have become increasingly popular community gatherings “to get people moving by foot and bike for a better quality of life.”

The Climate Fest itself will hit the ground running on Sunday morning with a 5k run/walk, with Mayor David Hagele taking part as a guest DJ. Booths will be available at the Plaza from noon to 4pm, with Plaza Street serving as a “transit fair” with various alternative means of transportation features including e-bike information from Get-Away Adventures plus 12 bikes available for test rides.

Center Street will be filled with booths focused on eco-friendly food and plant starts, including free “Earth Cookies,” again to be provided by many of the same bakeries that donated last year. 

As the booths close, popular Latina performer Rocio La Dama de La Cumbia will return to Healdsburg to provide lively entertainment from 4:30-6pm.

More information available at www.climateactionhealdsburg.org.

AVFest (April 26 – May 5)

Just one week later, the annual AVFest—formerly the Alexander Valley Film Festival—gets underway with an opening night screening, April 26, at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. That will kick off a 10-day immersion in cinematic arts in the town where it all began, at the now-shuttered Clover Theater.

Other screenings will follow in Geyserville, Windsor, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, with many again taking place at Longboard Vineyards’ production room at the corner of Fitch and Hudson.

The organizers say the festival “features cutting-edge indie films and selections of diverse works from and about underrepresented artists and communities.” AVFest will also include Sonoma County student works in the annual Student Film Competition.

One of the highlights, especially for Healdsburg residents, will be the AVFest Block Party on May 3, on North Street, from 6-9:30pm, featuring food vendors, live music and festivities based around film and media arts. The complete AVFest schedule will be released on March 31.

Updated information at avfilmpresents.org/film-festival.

Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience (May 16 – 19)

CHEESE PLATE Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese was one of the many booths at the 2023 Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience, which returns to the West Plaza lot in May 2024. (Photo by Christian Kallen)

The Healdsburg Wine & Food Experience has announced its schedule for the 2024 version, its third multi-day immersion in all things local that makes Healdsburg the Destination (with a capital D) it is.

This year’s dates, from May 16 to May 19, Thursday through Sunday, will include the to-be-expected Vintners’ Plaza Grand Tasting, from noon to 5pm on Saturday, May 18. It’s a festival of booths, tasting flights, food samples and one-on-one interaction with the people who grow, create and make the region’s bounty, to be held once again at the West Plaza Parking Lot.

The organizers, who signed a three-year contract over the winter to keep this “experience” on the city calendar through 2026, are looking forward to completion of the Foley Family Community Pavilion on North Street. While that is possible for 2025, it’s not likely to happen until the midsummer of that year. 

Other activities will include “culinary experiences with celebrity chefs,” wine education seminars, a Bollywood Night at La Crema Winery and a blues concert with Christone “Kingfish” Ingram at Rodney Strong Vineyards on Friday, May 17.

Information and tickets at www.healdsburgwineandfood.com.

BloodRoot Ramble (June 7 – 8)

Zach Williams, of Lone Bellow, reaches for the high notes during their performance at BloodRoot Ramble 2023, held at Healdsburg’s West Plaza Park. This year the Ramble will be held at the Community Center, with headliner Lord Huron. (Photo by Leigh-Ann Beverley)

Billing itself as “Healdsburg’s homegrown music & wine festival,” the Ramble returns from BloodRoot Wines on Saturday, June 8, expanding to take over centerfield at the Healdsburg Community Center. Top billed is Lord Huron, an indie rock band with twangy roots in the Midwest.

Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird, R&B singer Cautious Clay, the Nude Party from North Carolina and Sonoma County’s own Spike Sikes round out the June 8 concert day. The mini-fest features local wines, craft beers and other sustenance, from noon to 8pm at the Community Center. (They’ve smartly built a BloodRoot Ramble 2024 playlist on Spotify to preview the festival.)

The evening before, on June 7, VIP ticket-holders can meet the artists at the new Reeve Wines tasting room in Dry Creek, hear the Coffis Brothers in concert  at Little Saint in downtown Healdsburg and join the “after-party” at Bubble Bar on June 8. A limited number of tickets for the Friday events are available to the public as well as VIP ticket-holders

Once again the Ramble is committed to raising money for gun safety awareness, this time with a goal of $100,000.

Information and tickets at bloodrootramble.com

Healdsburg Jazz Festival (June 15 – 23)

GRAMMY WINNER Samara Joy performed for last year’s Healdsburg Jazz Festival, and several months later won the Grammy for Best New Artist (all genres). She comes back to Healdsburg in 2024.

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival kicks off with a free, all-day Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 15, featuring artist-in-residence Steve Turre and his Generations Sextet, and a host of others. This is in collaboration with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, and will take place in the Plaza.

The next day marks a return of Samara Joy, who won last year’s Best New Artist Grammy a few months after appearing in Healdsburg. She reappears for a Father’s Day concert on June 16, this time at Kendall Jackson Winery; locals who saw her at Bacchus Landing last year raved about the performance for months.

This year’s lineup will also have saxophonist Joshua Redman, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire with Bill Frisell and Herlin Riley, Chief Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott), the Cookers, the Marcus Shelby Orchestra, along with late-night concerts throughout the 9-day festival.

More information at www.healdsburgjazz.org.

Other events to look forward to include the Saturday Farmers’ Market starting April 13, followed by the start of the Tuesday Farmers’ Market on May 14 in the Plaza. The city’s 6-8pm Tuesdays in the Plaza concerts start May 28, and the Future Farmers Country Fair will be held May 23 – 25.

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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