The Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival (MVFAF) is celebrating its “blue sapphire” anniversary, which is to say, this September marks the 65th year for the annual event.
Started in the late ’50s by a collection of local, community-minded artists, as director Steve Bajor explains, “It was natural that they got together and put on a show and party for the local community and surrounding Marin.”
Unbeknownst to them, this gathering was to become a lasting annual event bursting with creative energy and town pride. Held each September amongst the towering, cathedral-like redwoods of Old Mill Park, MVFAF holds a special place in the hearts of Marin County residents. Bajor, who has had a flourishing career in event management and was raised in Mill Valley, derives particular joy in fostering community and connection in his hometown through this inimitable, almost magical festival.
“This is the only event, of the many I’ve done, that still maintains its integrity. From the volunteers, to the committee, to the board of directors and the community who attend, it’s still, after all these years, a grassroots festival,” he says.
One of the things that has sustained the festival’s success over the years, says Bajor, is its balanced collection of offerings. Though fine arts is the focus, MVFAF draws music acts, provides kids’ activities and in general creates a holistic experience of joy that transcends a traditional art market. The music element, which came about in 1978, was actually Bajor’s brainchild.
“At that time, there were music festivals and there were art festivals. And ironically, no one had put the two together. I was working with several different Marin groups and had access to some incredible musical talent. I said, ‘Hell, I have all this talent; let’s put in a stage and let’s have music!’”
Attendees of the upcoming festival can expect to be as delighted as ever at the offerings of local food and drink, activities for the “young and young at heart” in the Children’s Grove and diverse array of musical talent, including local and larger Bay Area performers. The theme of this year’s festival is “plein air”—the practice of painting outdoors—so attendees can expect to watch artists at work in the dappled sunlight streaming through the redwood trees, and to purchase the pieces moments after completion. The festival has partnered with Marin Bicycle Coalition, and those who choose to ride can safely lock their bikes on Throckmorton Avenue, receiving a $5 voucher to the festival.
“We sincerely hope people will come and enjoy our ‘Little Festival That Could,’ still going strong and celebrating its 65th year,” said Bajor.
For tickets and more information, visit www.mvfaf.org.