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July Humboldt Happenings



Reggae on the River

“It's simple science. Look, when hippies start to nest in a new area, it draws other hippies in. With the right weather conditions and topography, it can lead to a music festival. One that lasts for days...”

In the South Park episode “Die Hippie, Die,” Eric Cartman ominously describes the size and impact an upcoming music festival about to invade their mountain Colorado town by explaining “Reggae on the River, Woodstock, Burning Man, they will all pale in comparison to what we're looking at now.” Chalk up one more pop culture mention for HumCo! Jah, baby!

All that to say, Reggae on the River is a big deal, mon. Now in its 27th year, the undisputed winner of the ‘00s reggae festival wars -- you can buy “” on GoDaddy, if you like -- in currently ensconced at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area, but the off beat rhythms remain.

The 2011 festival -- two packed days, Saturday, July 16 to Sunday, July 17 -- features no shortage of danceable harmonymakers. This year’s requisite Marley is Ky-Mani Marley who’ll team with Gramps Morgan as part of the Reggae Revolution Tour. Other heavy hitters include Seun Kuti and Egypt 80, J-Boog, Mystic Roots Band, Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica. Locals include Ishi Dube and Jah Sun.

As always, you’ll also be able to peruse over 100 un-Babylon-influenced vendor booths, soak up sun, and dip in the sacred waters of the Eel River. For complete lineups and ticket info, float over to

  Mad River Summerfest

Reggae on the River is not the only summer music festival wise to how sublime the sounds of a flowing river can be between bands. The more local artist-heavy Mad River Summerfest will stretch out at Pump Station #1 on West End Road in Arcata on Saturday, July 9 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. But dissimilar to that hefty Reggae ticket, this one’s free.

Now in its 3rd year, the event features an array of Humboldt homegrown sounds, including sets from Ishi Dube, Moo-Got-2, The Miracle Show, Kulica, Speakeasy Saints, Sierra Rose Band and more.

Whilst filling your ears, you can also fill your stomach with frosty brews from all five Humboldt breweries as well as indulge local foods, arts, crafts and more. Need a music break? You can also worship at the Church of the 8-inch Circle at the adjacent premier disc golf course of grind on the skateboard ramp.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Annie and Mary Rails/Trails. For more info, search for “Mad River Summerfest” on Facebook.

Humboldt Folklife Festival

If Humboldt’s other July music festivals are too aurally jarring for your tastes, take solace that your acoustically-minded brethren at the Humboldt Folklife Society can relate.

To soothe your ears and soul, HFS has once again stripped things down to offer you the 33rd Annual Humboldt Folklife Festival taking place primarily at Dell’Arte headquarters in Blue Lake. But while the volume might not wear you out, the sheer size and energy of the event may. We’re talkin’ seven straight days of stringy goodness stretching form Sunday, July 17 to Saturday, July 23. You better be up to hoedown, kids!

Here’s a really super quick rundown of the week, (for a full list of performers see “Feeling Festive on pg. ??”):

• Sunday features a Fiddle Fest at Perigot Park which also coincides with Blue Lake’s Annie and Mary Days.

Monday is Women Songwriter’s Night.

• Tuesday is Jazz Night.

Wednesday is Country Night.

Thursday is Bluegrass and Beyond Night.

Friday night features a Barn Dance at Veteran’s Hall in Arcata.

Saturday with an All-Day Free Music Festival and workshops.

Are you ready to commit to the folk life? For more info, check out

  2011 Fortuna Rodeo

Is it the bulls and blood? The dust and mud? The roar of the Sunday crowd? Probably a combination of those and more.

Whatever it is, Rodeo Week is the biggest event annually in sunny Fortuna. Now in its 90th year of existence, seven full days of festivities sure to incite a "yeehaw" or two are scheduled starting Monday, July 11 and running through Sunday, July 17.

It’s not all steer rasslin’ and ropin’, people. Perhaps as popular as the rodeo itself, a trip to Friday’s Family Fun Night -- which includes the “human Mario Kart" Quadiators spectacle, as well as Lawn Mower races and Knievelesque extreme motorcross daredevil “Cowboy” Kenny Bartram -- will have you embracing your inner redneck faster than you can say “beer me.”

Some other highlights sure to add to the Americana: a massive carnival will transform Fortuna’s Rohner Park for the entire week, a down-home-y parade will rumble down Main St. on Saturday and, later that night country music guns-for-hire The Dave Russell band will give you an excuse to boot up at the Rodeo Dance.

A note to city slickers: cowboy hats are encouraged, but not required. For more info, see the NCJ’s Rodeo Guide or visit

2011 Redwood AutoXpo

July is an exciting month for noses in sunny Fortuna. No sooner has the intoxicating smell of horse manure left behind by the Fortuna Rodeo left the town’s nostrils, then they are filled again by the exhaust fumes of classic cars forged in a bygone era where the term “carbon footprint” had yet to be coined. Can you smell it? Mmm, yeah. God bless America.

That’s right, lead foots. The 21st Annual Redwood AutoXpo is just around the corner. Running from Friday, July 22 through Sunday, July 24, much of Fortuna’s Main St. will look like Jay Leno’s personal driveway with pre-Ralph Nader roadsters sure to blind you with shiny chrome and bright, custom paint jobs.

Heavy on ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll-era nostalgia, the weekend also features a sock hop, burnout contests, judged car shows, poker runs and more.

So iron your poodle skirts and bobby socks, dust off those sunglasses and forget that gas is $4 per gallon. For more info, check out


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