Covid-19 Continues to Stifle Events

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HANDS OFF Signature fall events like the Sausalito Art Festival, pictured here in a recent year, have been canceled in the wake of Covid-19 and other challenges. Photo courtesy Sausalito Art Festival

Last March, Covid-19 forced California to cancel most social gatherings and events through spring 2020. Summer 2020 followed suit and now fall 2020 looks to suffer the same fate as NorthBay organizations and venues continue to cancel or postpone upcoming gatherings.

This season, harvest and culinary events canceling their 2020 gatherings include the annual Heirloom Expo of food providers and enthusiasts and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair’s Grand-Tasting and World Championship Grape Stomp Competition.

Other fall arts events in the North Bay forgoing 2020 include Open Studios Napa Valley’s self-guided art tours, usually planned for two weekends in September, and the Sonoma County Art Trails, normally scheduled for two weekends in October. 

Still other major events canceled this fall include the Sound Summit music festival that celebrates Mount Tamalpais State Park each September at the historic Mountain Theater, and the Napa Valley Film Festival that was slated to happen in November.

“We appreciate the tremendous support and well wishes from our community during these uncertain times,” Cinema Napa Valley Chairman Patrick Davila says in a statement. “Rest assured we will use this time to strengthen our commitment to our mission and develop new avenues to fulfill our vision.”

One of the North Bay’s largest gatherings each fall, the Sausalito Art Festival will pause production due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and other challenges associated with event production. On the festival’s website, the Foundation says it is planning “to meet a shifting arts and entertainment landscape.”

Another North Bay fall staple, the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival, also recently announced its 2020 fest would be canceled due to Covid-19.

“For over sixty years our little festival has been a wonderful celebration of Mill Valley’s unique culture and community,” executive director Steve Bajor says in a statement. “We are hopeful that the festival will return next year for us all to enjoy.”

In place of live events, many producers are pivoting to online versions of their gatherings, including the folks behind Taste of Sonoma, who are launching an “at Home” event series beginning with a “Sparkling Sonoma” webinar on Sept. 4.

In lieu of Art Trails, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts is gathering local artists online for the SebArts Virtual Open Studios, featuring workshops, studio tours and more throughout September. Also going virtual is the annual Bolinas Museum Benefit Art Auction, which opens online bidding on Aug. 22 and culminates in a virtual live auction on Sept. 12.

As of press time, there are also a few fall events holding out hope for live gatherings, including the Mill Valley Film Festival, which plans to mark its 43rd year Oct. 8–18, and Sonoma’s Huichica Music Festival, scheduled to happen at Gun Bun winery on Oct. 16 and 17.

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