Parade with flags
COLORS The American flag led the 74th annual Twilight Parade last year as it passed by the Plaza en route to the Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair in 2023.

Marching bands, fire engines, pickup trucks and flatbeds—along with colorful dancing troupes and campaigning politicians—will march through town on Thursday to kick off the 75th anniversary of the Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair, or HFFCF.

The town’s agrarian roots are celebrated in this annual event, a “big small-town parade” that seems to get everyone out to either march or watch the so-called Twilight Parade (though with sundown not happening until 8:24pm on Thursday, it’ll be all over by the time the sun kisses the horizon).

Horses and riders with flags
Mounted color guard at the Twilight Parade in Healdsburg.

The parade route starts near St. John’s Church on East and Matheson streets, turning right onto Center Street past the Plaza and downtown businesses to the Healdsburg Regional Library. From there it turns right to continue east on Piper a couple of blocks to Fitch Street, returning to Matheson.

The final leg of the parade’s journey is again east on Matheson to University where it ends—just a couple of blocks from Rec Park, where the weekend’s Country Fair will already be underway.

The big small-town procession includes lots of farmers and farm animals, local musical bands, civic clubs, young students, antique vehicles, horses, local commercial business floats, elected officials and beauty pageant royalty. Leading the parade will be Police Chief Matt Jenkins, followed by Cub Scouts, the parade marshal and board, various service clubs, the City Council and city staff, Boy Scouts, banks, businesses and on … and on … and on.

At present the Healdsburg Prune Packers baseball team is expected to be last in the hour-long parade of about 70 entries, the three-time California League champions touting their upcoming first season in the new Pacific Empire League.

Country Fair

Started in 1950, back when Healdsburg boastfully branded itself as the Buckle of the Prune Belt, the Future Farmers Country Fair continues to showcase the achievements of the town’s youth in animal husbandry. Primary contributor to the exhibits is once again the Warm Springs 4-H club, which will have 66 exhibitors at this weekend’s country fair, held at Rec Park Thursday through Saturday.

Livestock showing
A future farmer shows off his steer at the 2023 Future Farmers Country Fair in Healdsburg

“Roughly 75% of our exhibitors are showing livestock for auction, but we have many that are not yet age-eligible (members must be 9 for livestock and for the dog show),” said Dana Grande, Community Club Leader of the Warm Springs 4-H. “So we have a number of kids that show in breeding show (rabbits, chickens, pygmy goats) and some who only show their work in arts and crafts, sewing or photography.”

The exhibits and booths at Rec Park will stay open until 10:30pm nightly, Thursday through Saturday. “The booths that are at Rec Park all support local nonprofit organizations,” Grande said. “Warm Springs has an ice cream booth, and we are bringing back the hand-dipped vanilla bars this year! That will make many long-time fair attendees happy.”

This remains a classic country fair, with down-home activities evocative of Healdsburg’s agrarian roots. The HFFCF junior livestock auction is on Saturday at 4 pm, with the animals that participating youth have raised to show and auction.

Last year the fair raised over $800,000, much of it going to scholarships and other educational commitments.

Fair Fun

But it’s not all four-legged fun. “The cake auction and the garden barrel auction start at 7pm on Friday night,” Grande said. “The cake auction is really a fun event. This community is super supportive of this event, and are incredibly generous with their spending on cakes!”

Local nonprofits will sell corn dogs, burgers, garlic fries, tri-tip, pizza, breakfast sandwiches, shaved ice, ice cream, home-made fudge and more. Fair rides such as bouncy houses and game booths contribute to the memorable festival atmosphere.

And once again, for the 35th year, the Swan Brothers Circus will return for some old-fashioned fun under the big top, with regular shows scheduled throughout the weekend.

There is no admission to the HFFCF. Gates open at 6pm on Thursday, 8:30am on Friday and Saturday, and close at 10:30pm.

Full fair information at

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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.


  1. This is the best description of the Twilight Parade I’ve ever read in the Spittoon. Christian Kallen is a very good writer, and we are lucky to have him.

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