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Fort Ross Festival Hits North Coast This Weekend

If you’ve got company to entertain or just need an excuse for a mini-road trip, head to Fort Ross State Historic Park this coming Saturday for the annual Fort Ross Festival.

This wonderful event is always an extravaganza of international and historic music, dance, elaborate costumes, story-telling, food and other happenings (including cannon firings!).

The international aspect celebrates the various peoples who have considered the Fort Ross area their home over the centuries: the local Kashaya tribe, Russians, Alaskan natives, and ranch-era people (19th century, into the 20th century) of many nations.

There’s also an International Food Bazaar where you’ll find a wild and delicious combination of favorites from around the world: American smoked BBQ, French crepes, Russian piroshki and borscht, Kashia fry breads, and Indian curries (or, if you really want to get international, a Punjabi-style burrito).

And this year there’s something new on the culinary scene: you can wash down your international feast at the Festival’s first-ever beer garden (serving locally-made Lagunitas, Anchor Brewing, and others).

The Fort Ross Festival has always been family-friendly, and you can expect more of the same this year, with horse-and-carriage rides on Highway 1; the opportunity to try historic crafts such as rope-making and spinning; lots of live farm animals to pet; local vendors selling their wares.

A Russian Orthodox Procession to the cemetery; storytelling and historic interpretive talks; drills by the historically-clad militia; performances by Kashia dancers and the Russian Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble, and much more.

Fort Ross Festival: What you need to know

  • When: Saturday, July 26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Where: Fort Ross State Historic Park is located on Highway One, 11 miles north of Jenner. See a map here.
  • Cost: $20/per car general admission (includes $8 State Parks fee).

Note: If you can’t make it in July, a trip to Fort Ross is wonderful at any time of the year. It can make for an invigorating one-day getaway from the Bay Area, a lovely stop on the way up the coast to Mendocino or beyond, and it’s a great way to take in the world-class beauty of Sonoma County’s far northern coast.