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River Heritage Days

Looking for something unusual to do on the water this weekend? Why not take part in the annual Petaluma River Festival, today through Sunday. Because the event is primarily a celebration of the river’s history, both the authentic scow schooner Alma and the Chinese junk replica Grace Quan will be featured ‘guests’ of the celebration. (Thanks to event partner S.F. Maritime Park.)

Alma sits center-stage during last year’s River Festival. Truly a river town, Petaluma’s original downtown area was laid out right along the turning basin.  

© 2014

As most Bay Area sailors know, during the 1800s scows like Alma were the ‘freighters’ that brought North Bay farm products to the bustling San Francisco waterfront long before there were bridges and highways. During the same era, junks such as the Grace Quan worked Bay Area fishing grounds. Both vessels will be available for dockside tours tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the downtown Petaluma turning basin. Plus, there’ll be a barbecue, live music and all sorts of family activities. 

Disregard the highrises of the S.F. skyline, and this could be a scene from the late 1800s, with Alma heading north for another load of farm goods, and Grace Quan (foreground) heading to the City to market her catch. 

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©2014 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

On Sunday you can take a sail on the river aboard the Alma from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $20. The Friends of the Petaluma River have also organized a Family Nature Day for Sunday. 

The 16-mile-long river is technically a tidal slough, and its surrounding wetlands comprise the largest remaining tidal marsh in California. For more info see the Friends site or call (707) 763-7756.

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