The Bodega Bay community will host its 43rd Annual Fisherman’s Festival. The Festival is packed with events for people of all ages – craft booths, live music, good food, entertainment and more. A favorite attraction is the wine tasting booth featuring more than 25 Sonoma County wines and a beer booth with several local ales. Plus we have something for every palate from barbecued oysters, local fish ‘n chips, clam chowder and a variety of food trucks. Live music and entertainers perform on the main stage all day Saturday and Sunday. Artisans and vendors from all over California and beyond offer a wide selection of arts and crafts.
The festival has its origin as a celebration of the start of the Salmon fishing season and the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Each year’s theme is chosen by the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association. At the Festival site itself you’ll see a wooden boat challenge where participating teams build a vessel and compete in a boat race.
The Fisherman’s Festival is a great venue for kids with a play area for face painting, spin paintings, games, a touch tank tide pool, and llamas (and guest pets) on parade.
Sunday morning will feature the Blessing of the Fishing Fleet when decorated boats parade out of the harbor to receive a blessing from local clergy.
The Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival is a 501(c)(3) California nonprofit charitable organization and is 100% volunteer-run by local community members (click here to volunteer). All proceeds from the Festival benefit Bodega Bay Area community services and in 2015 the Fisherman’s Festival distributed funds to these local nonprofit organizations.
Blessing the Fleet is Our History
Sunday’s Blessing of the Fishing Fleet is the highlight of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival. These solemn annual blessings had their start more than 50 years ago when the event was part of the “Discovery Days Celebration” and we had a thriving commercial fishing industry. Today it is part and parcel of the annual Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Festival weekend. Discovery Days commemorated the discovery of Bodega Bay by Lt. Bodega y Quadra while surveying these waters for the Spanish in 1775.
At the first “Discovery Days Celebration” event in 1958, some 17 festively decorated boats were blessed in the parade – appropriately led by Eddie, William and Steve Smith, members from the large local Miwok Indian family which began the commercial fishing industry in Bodega Bay in the 1920s.
Today, even with a declining industry, the traditional annual blessing of the fishing fleet is an important observance for the entire community and acknowledges the key role of those who farm the seas, often at great risk to themselves. Local clergy officiate at the Blessing and a flower wreath is cast upon the waters honoring the fishermen lost at sea.