It seems that these days, there's always something going on in the Sonoma Plaza. But get ready for the granddaddy of them all - the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival.
Saturday, September 29 the moon will be full in the Valley of the Moon, and the organizers of VOTMVF will take advantage of the moment with their first-ever nighttime parade, beginning at 8 p.m.
It's only one highlight of the 115th annual VOTM Vintage Festival, an event that dates back to 1897.
"We're an all-volunteer non-profit with no support coming in from the City," said Paula Vinson, president of the festival's all-volunteer Board of Directors. "We depend on ticket sales and corporate donations, but we can usually make it work.
"This time it should be a wonderful night, with full moon magic," Vinson added.
The parade is themed "Get Your Glow On." Entries can be individuals, groups or local businesses. Non-profits are encouraged to join the parade, and there is no registration fee for non-profits. Prizes are for best use of lights (one) and also for best entrant in each division, including Motorized and Non-Motorized Floats, Walkers, Mounted and more. See the parade rules here.
The Parade Route will be down First St. East, turning right onto East Spain St and marching past the Sonoma Barracks and several local restaurants and businesses; then it will make a right turn onto First St. West.
But the VOTM Festival lasts all weekend, beginning the night before with an Opening Night Gala in the historic Sonoma Barracks. Live music will feature Wonder Bread 5, which bills itself as "The unstoppable, international rock and roll party machine."
There will be over 50 Sonoma Valley wineries pouring at the Gala, and food tastings from Valley restaurants, specialty shops, and caterers to enjoy at leisure. Tickets are available on the event website.
Other events include the Annual Firefighter Water Fight on Saturday 11 a.m. at the Barracks, the Vintage 5K run on Sunday morning at 8 a.m., followed by the Tiny Tracks Race for children ages 0 to 8 and their families, an easy half-mile beginning at 9 a.m.
Naturally there will be the Plaza Tasting both Saturday and Sunday, which Vinson predicted will turn the 8-acre plaza into a "Norman Rockwell scene." Music performers these days include the David Thom Band, Jason Bodlovich, Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88s, Mad and Eddie Duran, the Carlos Herrera Latin Trio and others. Again, check the website for details.
As is the tradition, the signature event is the Grape Stomp, held both Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Plaza Amphitheater. Adult, Kid's Stomp and Corporate Stomp teams are welcome, and applications are available on the event website until the event fills up -- and it often does, according to organizers.
Of course no Vintage Festival in the Valley of the Moon would be worthy of the name without the Blessing of the Grapes, to be held Saturday at 10 a.m. in front of Mission San Francisco Solano, the last and northernmost California mission, and the only mission founded after Mexico’s independence from Spain.
Bring the kids for a history lesson, because a re-enactment of the Bear Flag Revolution starts just after, at 11 a.m., a reprise of the June 10 event held earlier this summer.
"It's always about giving back to the community," Vinson emphasized, pointing out that without City support the event relies on individuals and corporations to sponsor not only the annual Festival but the charities that benefit from the proceeds.
Last year they were able to donate $3,000 to the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation’s School Garden Project.