One of the things we’ve appreciated since moving to the Russian River Valley six years ago is the embrace we’ve felt from this warm, welcoming and authentic community. It’s a community whose people make their homes and living in this rural and small town area and whose lives involve more than what out-of-towners see when they visit wineries on the weekends.
The Forestville Youth Park BBQ a couple of weeks ago was a great place to see that community at play.
Forestville Youth Park is one of the only parks west of the Rockies that is privately owned and operated by a non-profit organization. It is completely community driven and funded through the generous donations of time and money by members of Forestville, population of 3,200 and home of our favorite burger at Carr’s Drive In.
Work in the vineyard kept us away from Saturday morning's parade but nothing could keep us away from the Sunday events. Parking was a bit of a challenge, but we were pleased to see the huge turn out. This was not a wine crowd. These were locals enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon. If there were out-of-towers, they blended so well and were so welcomed that you didn't notice them.
What amazed me and gave me such pleasure was the obvious enjoyment everyone had in just being there. Women were hugging, men were slapping each other on the back and children were running through the crowds. There was a small carnival with the obligatory cotton candy, games of chance and rides. There were a few vendors selling jewelry and knick-knacks, and delicious BBQ and beans was available with beer or wine to wash it all down.
But my main focus while we were there was the music coming from the stage. The band Pride & Joy was cranking out cover song after cover song, from Michael Jackson (yes, they did Thriller) to Al Green and Kool & The Gang. Everyone was either dancing in front of the bandstand or swaying in their seats.
The sun was shining brightly, so I figured that's what brought tears to my eyes. It couldn't have been just the pride and joy I saw in everyone's faces, coming together as a community to celebrate a common effort and a job well done. You can bet we’re going back next year.