Looking for a summer festival that’s just a little bit different? Then dress up in 19th-century clothes and gather by the river for Petaluma’s Rivertown Revival, celebrating its 10th anniversary July 20. You can not only wander through art displays and hear live music, you also can get married — for real — at the low, low price of five bucks.
“Yes, people are actually getting married. In fact, we’re pretty much booked up for the marriages this year,” said Elizabeth Howland, one of the founders of the annual festival. “One couple invited a hundred guests and they all dressed up. In the past, we had a couple come from clear across the country. This year, Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett will be one of people officiating at the weddings.”
Again this year, marriage ceremonies will be held at the 40-foot metal sculpture “Flower Tower,” a smaller version of the same piece featured at the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert and created by Kevin Clark and the Reared in Steel art studio in Petaluma.
Even if you’re already married, or determined to remain single all your life, there’s still plenty to see and do at the Rivertown Revival, including ride on a giant seesaw or listening to live music, including a new program this year called the Rivertown Revue, presenting performers previously featured at the festival over the past decade.
The Crux, fronted by the festival’s music director, Josh Windmiller, will serve as the house band for the Rivertown Revue, which will start at 4 p.m.
“The show will feature many special guests, including Laurie Lewis, La Gente SF, Sierra Faulkner, Tobias Weinberger (Traveling Spectacular), Sebastian St. James (Highway Poets), Pamela Joyce (Foxes in the Henhouse), Avery Hellman (Ismay) and more …,” Windmiller said by email from the United Kingdom, where he has been touring with The Crux.
The full day’s music lineup will feature more than a dozen acts in all, including Ben Morrison of the Brothers Comatose, The Hubbub Club and the Timothy O’Neil Band.
“We are also especially excited for our headliner, Ben Morrison from The Brothers Comatose. A Petaluma native, Ben has become a shining star for our North Bay music community, and it is a huge honor to feature him and his band at the Rivertown Revival,” Windmiller said.
Created as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Petaluma River, the festival has raised more than $150,000 for environmental preservation of the river area over the past 10 years, drawing 7,000 to 8,000 people most years, Howland said. Supported by some 300 volunteers, the festival aims to bring people together as well as bring them to the Petaluma River.
“A lot of people at the festival interact with each other. People dress up, and the crowd itself becomes part of the event,” said Margaret Kuffel, who is in charge of Rivertown Revival’s extensive interactive art displays.
“I’m called the art wrangler, because I work on the art design and overall look of the event,” Kuffel explained. “This year, I am concentrating on recruiting new artists.”
“Wrangler” is the favored term for the members of the core team that manages the Rivertown Revival, with Windmiller dubbed “music wrangler” and Lisa Thompson designated “volunteer wrangler,” for example. “We have a pretty robust core of us,” Kuffel said.
The festival aims for an old-timey atmosphere, with fun activities for kids and a carefree, family-friendly atmosphere.
Festivalgoers are encouraged decorate boats and come by boat. The historic scow schooner Alma will be anchored nearby.
“We’re evoking a time that was less consumer-oriented, before you had everyone looking at their phones, when the river itself was central to life.”
You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @danarts.