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Russian River celebration planned

by Yosha Bourgea

IT'S MUDDY, it's floody, but it's ours and there's nothing quite like it. The Russian River has been the troubled, beautiful heart of Sonoma County since long before big business and environmental activism have coexisted here. Winding snakelike from its source in Redwood Valley to its mouth at Jenner, the river carries in its coils the evergreen conflict between the forces of conservation and progress.

But for nine days this month, the focus will turn from discord to gratitude with the second annual Celebration of the Russian River and Its Watershed.

Initiated last year by Occidental resident Kay McCabe, the celebration encompasses a variety of activities that range in tone from educational to spiritual to just plain fun. The common thread is appreciation for what the river has to offer.

The first event is a quiet one. Saturday, Sept. 18, at 9 a.m., a small gathering will take place at the headwaters of the Russian River for the opening ceremony. After a period of spiritual reflection, a container of water will be drawn from the source of the river and given to a bicycle messenger. Over the next nine days, the water will be relayed by foot, bicycle, canoe, and kayak down the length of the river, to be uncorked and poured into the ocean at Jenner on Sept. 26. The closing ceremony will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and will include picnicking followed by a sunset paddle.

A sampling of other events follows. For a complete list of activities, call 874-2871.

  • Art at Duncans Mills, Sept. 18-26, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Tuesday). River artists exhibit at Christopher Queen Gallery. 865-1318.

  • The Green Man, Sept. 18-26, noon to 1 p.m. Singing, music, poetry, and storytelling at various parks. Bring a bag lunch. 433-2121.

  • Coastal Cleanup, Sept. 18, 9 a.m. to noon. Teams of volunteers will clean beaches and catalog the debris in order to identify sources of pollution. A barbecue, sand castle contest, and "most unusual debris" contest will follow at Doran Beach. Meet at the Salmon Creek State Park ranger station. For details, call 800/CLEANUP.

  • Forest Protection Workshop, Sept. 18, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Learn how you can use the law to protect the river's forest watershed. Guerneville Public Library. 632-6070.

  • Sixth Annual Russian River Appreciation Festival, Sept. 18, 3 to 6 p.m. A popular benefit for river advocacy groups, featuring live music, a barbecue, an auction, presentations, and an optional river hike. $25/advance, $30/at the door. Hop Kiln Winery, Healdsburg. 433-6491.

  • Memories That Linger, Sept. 19, 4 to 6 p.m. A reception to honor local history: historical videos and film, no-host bar, barbecue, and dancing. For the 'cue and dance, $12.50; for the dance only, $6. Rio Inn, Rio Nido. 874-2871.

  • Living Waters, Sept. 22, 5 to 7 p.m. Interfaith ritual "Blessing of the Waters" at the Hop Kiln Winery, Healdsburg. Wear walking shoes; it's a 20-minute walk. 573-3160.

  • The Logging and Wildlife Horror. Picture Show, Sept. 23, 6 to 8 p.m. Not in your backyard yet? Coming soon, maybe. A display of Sonoma County's worst forestry, along with pictures of good forestry to show it can be done. Presented by Russian River Residents Against Unsafe Logging. 632-5124.

  • Russian River Cleanup, Sept. 25, 9 a.m. Meet at a location yet to be determined. Select a 4- to 8-mile stretch of the river to clean either by canoe or by foot. Register by Sept. 10, at 577-7151.

  • Festa Italiana, Sept. 26, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A salute to Italian heritage along the Russian River, this event features food, wine, beer, espresso, art and exhibits, Italian autos, bocce ball, and cooking demos. $4/advance, $5 at the door. Santa Rosa Veterans Hall. 522-9448.

  • Circling of Elders Celebrating the River, Sept. 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Bring poems, stories, and memories for sharing. In the meadow behind the Jenner Inn. 542-3120.

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From the September 9-15, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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