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Sonoma County Gazette
Crafterino at the Petaluma Vets Hall
Crafterino at the Petaluma Vets Hall featuring a huge selection of local vendors selling their handcrafted wares. Images:

Get off of Amazon
Buy your Holiday Gifts Locally
Crafterino is Back on Sun, Dec 1


Nov 26, 2019
by Houston Porter


Get off of Amazon – buy your holiday gifts locally. “Buy Local!” We all see this phrase daily, if not more, but it probably means more right now than at any other time since its popularization. Once the fires were put out, the power was back on and the evacuees were allowed back to their homes, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. It may have taken a few days to restock the fridge and reschedule the appointments and engagements we may have missed, but life for most of us went back to normal. 

However, that was just on the a day to day level – the big picture often changes slowly and our local producers need our support now more than ever, or else the “normal” we have gotten used to and which brought a lot of us to Sonoma County in the first place, may cease to exist. The news makes a huge deal about the fires, which is okay because we want locals to take the danger serious, but that sword has a double edge. It makes the rest of the state and the country think that all of Sonoma County has burned down and that there is no reason to visit us for their day-trips, conferences, weddings and vacations. Of course, we all know that other than the fright of the actual fire, once it was put out, it actually physically affected only a tiny portion of our county. Nevertheless, the tourists are not returning as they once did, which is wreaking havoc on our economy, which if not stemmed, will have lasting effects on all of us. 

I have spoken to countless winery owners, restaurant owner, farmers and cheese producers, just to name a few, who are all still feeling the effects of the 2017 fires. That is how long lasting the effects of fires and power outages can be.  Many tell me that they were just getting their feet back under them, two years after the fires, when the Kincade fire hit. That is how long lasting the effects can be and why we all need to do our part to step up and help out, otherwise Sonoma County is not going end up being the place we know and love. 

Sonoma Strong isn’t just about sticking together during the fires and evacuations. It isn’t just about helping people rebuild their lives. It is also about supporting every aspect of our community.   When it comes holiday gifts, now more than ever, we need to think smart and Buy Local!   I know that online retailers make things easy but every dollar spent online is a dollar that does not get a chance to circulate around our community. Every dollar spent locally goes on to be spent again and again as store owners and employees invest it back in Sonoma County. There are tons of holiday fairs where you can purchase locally made products for your holiday gift list.  And as a fan of food, nothing makes me happier than receiving a gift of locally harvested anything, from honey to jam to beef jerky to sweets.

Better yet, I love giving and receiving restaurant or wine tasting gift certificates. Gifts of an experience are much more genuine and the memory more long-lasting than simply giving someone a trinket made in a foreign land. Please, if you love Sonoma County and want to see it continue to be the gem that it is, we all need to band together and spend our holiday dollars supporting local producers. If we don’t, I guarantee that come next holiday, a lot of them will no longer be a part of our community. 

And speaking of restaurants that have a major impact on our community, above and beyond the great food and service they provide daily diners, Sax’s joint and the Rip City Riders  are again going their   annual adoption of a Sonoma county family for Christmas   to make sure the kids have some special holiday cheer. Email   with your worthy candidates.  

If you are looking for a  local Santa to visit  your holiday party or retail event, there is none better than Gerald Leuschen of Buddy’s Farm (326-4800), who also harvests and sells the best honey and eggs around. Yes, that beard is real and yes, he really is that jolly in real life. You can book him through Sonoma County Santa on Facebook, but do it soon as his schedule fills up fast.

With limited space, due in large part to my Buy Local plea, I’ll have to keep my events section short and sweet. For more info on any of these events, simply do a Google search, like you normally would. 

Crafterino  is back on Sun, Dec 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Petaluma Vets Hall featuring a huge selection of local vendors selling their handcrafted wares. The first 100 guests will get a Crafterino swag bag and there will be raffles all day long. Admission is only $1 with raffle proceeds benefitting COTS. 

Fit ‘n’ Furry hosts   “Santa Paws”   for your pup and Santa photo opportunity on Tue, Dec 3 from 12 - 4 p.m.. Flower Casita hosts an annual Wreath Party on Wed, Dec 4 from 4 - 7 p.m..

The Hospice   “Light Up a Life” Tree Lighting Ceremony   is Fri, Dec 6 from 6 - 7 p.m. at Walnut Park with inspiring words and music for those who have lost loved ones this year. Contact Hospice of Petaluma to name a light or for additional details.

The  Downtown Merchants Holiday Open House  is Saturday, Dec 7, 2019 with a full day packed full of “fun and festivities including carolers, Morris Dancers, horse and carriage rides, face painting, hot cider, merchant open houses and much more!” This is a free downtown event and can be enjoyed later than normal as many downtown stores will have extended hours.

The  Human-Powered Holiday Flotilla  (think lighted boat parade) is Sat, Dec 7, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Turning Basin.

Latke MasterChef and Adult Social  is Sun, Dec 8 at the Chabad Jewish Center of Petaluma. I was a judge last year and we not only had great food but also enjoy meeting and visiting with new and old friends alike.

The  Annual Community Carol Sing!   is Mon, Dec 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Walnut Park. All ages welcome – lyrics provided.

Hotel Petaluma always gets into the spirit of the holidays with plenty of festive events, starting with the Fabulous Women hosting the Festival of Trees at the Hotel Petaluma on Dec 6 & 7, Handmade Petaluma holiday craft fair and the 4th Annual Gingerbread House Showcase & Competition from Dec 13-15, and the Petaluma Shakespeare Company’s presentation of “The Snowman”, “an irresistible Christmas musical animated storytime” on various times throughout the month.

Throughout the entire month of December,   the City of Lights Driving Tour   will help guide you through town to homes and businesses that have gone above and beyond to decorate for the holiday. This self-guided tour map is available online ( and at the Visitors Center (210 Lakeville St.) for free. Also throughout the month, on Saturdays, from noon to 3 p.m., Petaluma Pie Company will have complimentary tastings of their holiday flavored pies. 

And not be left out, the  Petaluma Museum  presents Petaluma Readers Theatre’s presentation of Tuman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory”  and  Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”    over several days. And while up on the Museum’s website, you can purchase tickets for their New Year’s Eve Gala Concert, which has quickly become a local favorite, and can be followed by the Viennese Ball, also put on by Elizabeth Walter and Sky Hill Cultural Alliance at Hermann Sons Hall on Western, with authentic Viennese food and a live Strauss band for the waltzing. 


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