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65th Anniversary of the Rio Theater


 65th Anniversary of the Rio Theater

by Colin Mutchler & Lauren Smith

As we prepare for a busy summer season on the Russian River, we appreciate the opportunity to reflect on our first year as co-owners of the Rio Theater, and share our plans to celebrate the 65th Anniversary Summer with both West County residents and visitors. 

Overall, we really appreciated the community support during our first summer and winter, and are excited to continue making the Rio theater, cafe, and lawn into unique inclusive places for people to come together around food and creativity on the river.

Our approach for the first year was to keep the theater and cafe running smoothly, as well as experiment with new kinds of events. We learned the reality of slowness during the winter months (including our first mini flood scare), and got to know many people working hard for community development along this special river valley. 

Based on the success of last summer’s event series, we’ll continue to open up the Rio Theater lawn for even more people to enjoy during summer weekends. After finishing your paddle or swim at Monte Rio Beach, you can walk up the new path to the Rio for a bite, a drink, and live music. Some fun outdoor events happening again this summer include Sonoma County Pride - Beach Party & Film Fest (June 6th), July 4th Weekend, the Food & Farm Film Fest (July 11th), and Pongapalooza (July 25th). We’ll also be scheduling outdoor screenings on the lawn of classic family favorites on special Saturday evenings. 

We’re also excited to announce our new summer film schedule! Instead of one film per week, we’ll be screening two different films per day from Thursday to Sunday at 5:30pm and 8pm. This new schedule will still allow us to show recent films a few weeks after they open, and give us the freedom to book films further ahead to give you more time to plan. The theater’s digital projector enables us to show anything from live TV to digital media files, and we’re excited about the possibilities. 

We’re looking forward to scheduling monthly themed events where people from the Rio community can come together on a regular basis to socialize, watch films and enjoy our theater! There might be a night for local creatives on the first Tuesday of every month, a Scene Battle on the last Thursday of every month, or documentary matinees on every first Saturday. These monthly schedules will be on our website and email newsletter. If there is an event that you’d like to bring together regularly at the Rio, please contact us through

Lastly, we’re very close to expanding our beer & wine license to include parts of the theater and front patio so that you can enjoy an afternoon beer overlooking the river before and after a movie, a unique experience you can only get on the Russian River. 

Our first year at the Rio has been deeply fulfilling. We are appreciative of the team who runs the theater and cafe every day, and feel lucky to be able to call Monte Rio home. We are always passionate about meeting new people who share our interest in building inclusive community through food and creativity. See you at the Rio!