Napa County Animal Shelter’s Kitten Season

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by Laird Durham

It’s kitten season at the Napa County Animal Shelter, an annual event from late spring to fall. This year’s drought kept the rains away, but it brought a flood of kittens to Napa’s feral cat population. Eighty kittens, so far, have been brought to the shelter.

From birth through eight weeks, kittens need constant care and training.  Eighty kittens would swamp the shelter. Coming to the rescue are more than 30, volunteer, foster homes who raise the kittens, one at a time, or in litters of as many as five, until they are old enough to be brought back to shelter in shifts to be spayed or neutered and socialized enough to be put up for adoption.

Rarely is the mother cat a part of the foster-home package.  95% of the time the kittens are orphans, so the foster homes nurse the orphans with a special milk-substitute from bottles or syringes.

“We are indebted to the foster homes,” says Kristen Loomer, Director of the Napa Animal Shelter, holding an armful of kittens.  “The foster homes keep the kittens alive and train them to be adoptable.”  This year, especially, Kristen is looking for more foster home volunteers.  The Napa Animal Shelter provides veterinary care for the foster home kittens, and all of the food and health supplies needed by them. If you might like to foster kittens in your home, give Kristen a call:  707-253-4382.

While kitten season peaks in the summer, the Animal Shelter’s dog adoption program goes on all year.  Last year, the center arranged for the adoption of 900 dogs, and cared for 500 stray dogs, half of them returned to grateful owners.   Many of the kitten foster homes have adopted dogs from the shelter.

Diane Matuszewski has been giving kittens a foster home for six years, along with Bitsa, her kitten “foster dog”, himself a 4-year-old rescue dog from the Napa animal shelter.  Diane says Bitsa loves kittens. Diane and her husband own and operate FlexWineTours.com from their home office.  Although the tour business operates 7 days per week, Diane is able to look in on the kittens several times a day, and wean them, train them to use the litter box, and socialize them so they can be neutered and put up for adoption when they are
old enough.     

This is Diane’s fourth foster litter, three of which included the mother cat.  Her present charge is a mother cat Diane has named Minni Purrl, who is still a kitten herself, and her two babies, one male, one female, which Diane took in when the kittens were just 3 days old.  After two weeks, one of the kittens is still nursing.  The

other is starting to eat solid food.  “I put some in his mouth and he found out it tasted pretty good,”
Diane said.

Diane insists “it is really easy to be a kitten foster home”, especially when the mother comes with the litter.  “Baby kittens need to be fed about every two hours,” she says, “but only for a few weeks.”  Because she believes it helps keep her foster kittens calm, Diane streams spa music all day through her computer in the kittens’ sanctuary, a room that doubles as Diane’s winery-tour office.

Diane also is a volunteer dog walker at the Animal Shelter, and helps train volunteers.

Last year, Hector Badillo and Chris Trujillo gave foster care to 37 kittens.  This year that record may be broken.  Right now, the men are fostering just one kitten, 3-4 weeks old – the only survivor of a litter abandoned by a feral cat under Napa bushes and discovered by a passer-by who brought the starving kitten to the shelter.

Chris named the kitten Lily.  Hector said that after only three days he had tamed the kitten from feral behavior (hissing and attempting to claw) to eating solid food, using the litter box, and lying down with the partners’ rescue dog, Seija.

“This is the biggest reward of kitten fostering,” Hector said.  “Watching a semi-feral animal become well-behaved and companionable.”  He said that when you feed a kitten – especially from a bottle – the kitten quickly becomes attached to you and likes to be cuddled.

Hector is an animal technician with the Napa Animal Shelter where he has been providing care and training for the shelter’s animals for five years.  Because of his special skill, Hector usually gets the kittens that are the most troubled in behavior or health.

Chris is a student at the San Francisco Art Academy.  His and Hector’s daily schedules don’t overlap, so one of them is home almost all the time.  At the rare times when the kittens would be alone, Hector takes advantage of his job and brings them with him to the shelter.

“When we have a litter of several kittens,” Hector said, “they all have different personalities.  When one learns to eat solid food, or use the litter box, the rest will often follow.”  Kristen Loomer agrees.  “No cat is like another,” she said.  “Every one of them is unique.”

Hector added a twist: “There is usually a trouble-maker in every litter, and it seems like that is the one the rest of the litter wants to follow.”

Fostering kittens is a family affair for Cynthia and John Hamilton and their son, Josh.  Although Cynthia is the primary care given, John and Josh pitch in when Cynthia is volunteering at the Napa Animal Shelter.  The Hamilton’s have been fostering kittens for two years and, so far, have fostered ten litters, the largest with five kittens, and only one has included the mother cat.  One litter of four kittens was not really a litter; all four of the kittens were unrelated and were of different ages.  Two of the four were “pretty wild”, Cynthia said.    

“The oldest kitten in that bunch helped me out by ‘teaching’ behavior to the younger and wilder ones,” Cynthia said, such as using the litter box, keeping themselves clean, and behaving socially.   

In July, Cynthia fostered two kittens, one of them a “Hemmingway kitten”, with five toes instead of four on her rear paws, and seven on the front paws. Technically called polydactyls,  the many-toed cats, also called “mitten cats,” were popularized and raised by Ernest Hemmingway.

A rescue dog, a black lab named Cricket, and an adult cat, named Savanah, are part of the Hamilton foster family, and help with socializing and training.  Savanah was a foster kitten, and was slated to go back to the Napa Shelter but, Cynthia said, “John became attached to her, so she stayed with us.”

Jax Diner Open for 3 Months and Already Winning Awards!

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Jax White Mule Diner had only been open a couple of months when the 6th Annual Chili Cookoff rolled around in August.  Hardly enough time to have honed their chili recipe to a competitive level, or so you might think.  Jax’s chili not only won First Place with the judges panel, which included a few discerning Napa Chefs, it also won The People’s Choice Award, meaning the folks attending also thought it was the best.

Impressive. Especially since chili is just a small part of their breakfast and lunch menu. J.B. Leamer, founding owner of Jax White Mule Diner, remembers going to the local diner with his grandfather.  It was a center of community activity – a relaxed, affordable place to enjoy a good meal while catching up with family and friends.  Leamer loved everything about it, and for years thought that if there was ever an opportunity to open a place just like it, he would jump on it.

That opportunity presented itself when Leamer was wearing his hat as a realtor, showing a client the space at 1122 First Street in Dwight Murray Plaza.  “Gillwoods had just closed,” said Leamer.  “I realized downtown didn’t have a diner anymore.”  Leamer suggested to the client that he consider opening one in that spot.  One thing lead to another, and Leamer ended up making the plunge himself.

Opening a restaurant is always a big risk.  So far, Jax has been a huge hit.

“When I saw where they were located, I figured they’d be out of business in a month,” said Michael Holcomb, a local who owns several properties downtown.  “Then, I tasted the food.  I eat at Jax three or four times a week now.”

Because this is Napa, Leamer was able to assemble an enviable team to run the diner.  Chef Jason Buckley, who helped make the Napa Valley Grille a success before leaving California for a few years, has delivered on the classic Americana vibe Leamer had envisioned.  Bobby Cabrerra, for years a fixture at Downtown Joe’s, sees to it the kitchen runs well and that the service is top shelf.  Tony Morales, formerly with Silverado Resort and Spa and Celadon, is the Managing Partner, ensuring guests’ expectations are met.  Part of that is having the courage to occasionally follow the chef’s whims and go off-menu.  “We participated in BottleRock, and served Tater Tots smothered in cheese and crumbled bacon.  People loved them.”

“We’re really making old school new again,” said Leamer.  “Come in and enjoy our relaxed atmosphere with your neighbors while sharing great comfort food, beer & wine, while enjoying the game on one of the large screen TVs .  Jax is Napa’s place for Happy Hour, Wed-Fri from 3pm-7pm with $3 beer, $5 wine, special appetizers and dinner entrees per our clients’ request. Look for longer hours  Wednesday through Friday with a menu that will include fried chicken and other favorites.

JAX will accommodate your fantasy football draft or private event. Just give them a call at 707-812-6853. Open daily, 7am at 1222A First Street, off Dwight Murray Plaza, west of Main and First Streets, serving breakfast till 3pm.  Wednesday through Friday, open till 9pm.

As Morales says, “Come in, relax and get your mule on.”

Napa BBQ Chefs Share Their Secrets – A Barbecue Round Table

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by Stephen Ferry

There are many ways to spell it. And, there might be nearly as many ways to do BBQ as there are BBQ chefs.

You know the drill.  Marinate, Rub, Slow-Cook, Sauce.  Along the way, there a lot of options as you go through the process.  Every BBQ chef in Napa has his/her own idea of what makes the best BBQ and smoked meats.  There seems to be only one common point of agreement: Nobody uses pelletized fuel.   

Bounty Hunter owner, Mark Pope, thinks that great BBQ must start with the best ingredients and the right equipment for the job.  “You must also take the time and effort to achieve excellence,” says Pope.  “There are no short cuts
in BBQ!”

When asked what makes his BBQ so good, Big Ned Foster, owner of Big Ned’s BBQ at the Food Mill, said “I do a New Orleans style of BBQ.  It’s the love that I put into it that makes it so good.”   

Michael Hanaghan, proprietor of the Five Dot Ranch at Oxbow Public Market, is opening The Cook House next to the original meat market to serve customers fresh cooked BBQ that will be smoked out on the deck.  Hanaghan said, “For good BBQ, it’s all about the beef.  We are a seventh–generation, cattle ranch, so we only BBQ beef.  We are committed to providing a product that is always 100% free of antibiotics or additional hormones. We practice low-stress handling and strongly believe that, in order to raise all natural cattle, we must provide healthy, open, grazing spaces that are sustainable to both the cattle and environment.”          

“What makes my stuff good is that it’s unique,” said Jon Bodnar, owner and chef at Smoakville.  “Texan and Californian BBQ is found everywhere. But, when was the last time you stumbled on a genuine, old-school, classic BBQ shack? Everything we have here at Smoakville is made from scratch, from the rubs and pickles to the sauces and desserts. We pay close attention to how the final product is seasoned, cooked, and even the visual aesthetics.”  BBQ means many different things to different people.  It’s not just about the food. “BBQ is important to me because it is all about preserving the history, culture, and tradition of America’s cuisine,” added Bodnar.

“My philosophy on great BBQ involves friends and family experiencing my hospitality,” said Richard “Joey” Ray, Chef De Cuisine at VINeleven at The Napa Valley Marriott Hotel and Spa. “Hospitality to me is the feeling of being welcomed, whether it be at my home or at my restaurant table.”

The thoughts are echoed by Bounty Hunter’s Pope. “BBQ is the true American cuisine. Born and raised in the USA and passed down from generation to generation, BBQ is a national pastime – an event that brings together friends and family.”   

The choice of wood is key to each BBQ chef’s technique.   “Hickory is our wood of choice,” said Paul Menzel, owner of Red Rock North. “We use hickory and cherry firewood, which is a part of what gives our BBQ its distinctive taste,” said Hanaghan of Five Dot Ranch.   “The other part we can’t tell you!” “For smoking our meats at Bounty Hunter, we use a mixture of woods,” said Pope. “The type of wood depends on the item that’s to be smoked. Most of it is apple-wood – not chips or little chunks, but large, split logs. The logs work better for us as they don’t fully ignite, but rather slowly smolder, giving the meat a nice consistent smoke. Other woods that we use are hickory, mesquite, oak (Cabernet Sauvignon-aged barrel staves), and grapevines.”    Ray declared, “For wood I like to use hickory, because it produces a rich, smoke flavor and the quintessential flavor most people think of when meats are smoked, but here in California good hickory is sometimes hard to find, so I also use cherry or another fruit wood.  The fruit wood tends to impart a little softer smoke flavor.  I prefer this for poultry products. It tends to complement things like chicken and turkey and not overpower them.”    Bodnar confided, “After rubbing the meat with our secret house spices we smoke the meat anywhere from 4 hours to 12 hours, depending on the cut. For smoking, we use red–wine, barrel staves.”    

Opinions about the best libation to enjoy with BBQ vary as widely as the recipes. “I have been doing food and wine pairing for Napa wineries for many years and the best pairing I’ve ever found was Bourbon with my ribs,” opined Bodnar. “This is  because we smoke with oak barrels and bourbon. Being aged with oak adds the right amount of spice, char, and vanilla notes that pair great with the ribs.” “For the gentlemen, anything – as long as it’s beer,” said Foster.   Ray agreed.  “A great, cold beer is one of my first suggestions. A lower alcohol content and something crisp.  I tend to stay away from big IPA’s for BBQ because they can get unpleasantly bitter when lots of spices are involved.  The carbonation in beer or sparkling wine tends to cleanse the palate of the fat that makes BBQ so delicious, preparing your palate for a next bite that is as flavorful as the last.  A good rose’ or white, with a good acidity level will also help wash away the fat from your palate in the same way the carbonation does. A beverage with a little residual sugar is nice for spicier BBQ to help put out the fire.  But, as I am a true Southerner, if nothing else, give me a glass of sweet or iced tea any day of the week.”     

“When we first opened Bounty Hunter Smokin’ BBQ, our customers thought we were crazy.  How can wine and BBQ go together?” recalled Pope. “Over time, we’ve changed their minds. Napa Cab, Syrah, Petite Sirah and, of course, Zinfandel, all work great with BBQ. With that said, if you want to enjoy a frosty cold beer with our smokin’ BBQ, we won’t stop you!”

Each chef has his own story about how they got all fired up about BBQ. “About thirty years ago, my brother, Dan, trekked through Texas to learn about BBQ,” Menzel said. “Upon his return he taught what he learned to me, I always took BBQ for granted growing up in Tennessee,” Ray revealed. “Great BBQ is everywhere in the south.  Each town’s local joint is an institution in the community.  Then, when I moved away to attend culinary school in the early 2000’s, I started to realize what I was missing.  My craving for great BBQ led me to want to create it here in California.” Bodnar added, “It’s always been a passion and a dream of mine and when I saw the need and desire for old fashioned BBQ in the Napa Valley it all just came together.”

Whether its pork or beef or chicken, if it’s summer, it’s always better on the ‘Q.

Main Street Reunion Car Show

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by Craig Smith

The 400, pre-1976, vintage cars that display at the Main Street Reunion Car Show come primarily from northern California. But, as the show has grown in popularity, entries have come from Southern  Cal., Nevada and even Arizona.  A surprising number of entries are local. “I’m always impressed to see how many really great cars there are that I don’t know about, right here in Napa,” said Mike Phillips, who is organizing the show for the second year. Phillips is a member of the Napa Valley Cruisers;, the car club that has hosted the show with the Downtown Napa Association (DNA) for a dozen years.  It’s been a great partnership, according to Craig Smith with the DNA.

“The Cruisers wanted to do a car show for years, but had trouble navigating through the red tape to pull it off,” said Smith. “When they first approached our organization, they challenged me to help get it off the ground. Later, I got a ribbing for being in charge of securing the Three P’s: 
permits, police and porta-potties.”

The crowds that come out to see the cars get bigger every year, but it’s never too crowded. “The show covers eight blocks and four parking lots, which spreads things out nicely,” said Smith.

Two years ago, Dennis Gage, host of Speed TV’s, “My Classic Car,” visited Main Street Reunion, and made the car show the subject of an episode. “I know Main Street is a beautiful show,” said Phillips, “but seeing it on TV made me appreciate it in a whole new way.”  Hoteliers say they are now booking rooms for people visiting specifically to see the car show.

For the second year of what is now a two-day event, the weekend  begins with a Friday night, Show & Shine, to be held at the Copia parking lot next to the Oxbow Public Market. Last year, organizers thought they would be lucky if fifty cars showed up.  There were 150. “A Show & Shine event the night before the car show gives everybody another chance to see the cars in more of a party atmosphere,” said Tammy Robinette, president of the Cruisers and the brains behind Show & Shine. “People can check out all the great cars, enjoy something to eat and drink, plus listen to good music too. How great is that?”   

Show & Shine features live music performed by Juke Joint Band a band that will have people dancing.  Enjoy the food from the Oxbow Public Market or any downtown restaurant before or during, and you’ve got a great Friday Night.

Trophies are a part of every show, but the Cruisers can rightfully claim to offer forty of the best looking awards out there. “One guy somehow left the show without his award two years ago,” said Phillips. “We sent him a picture of what he had missed, and he and his wife drove here from Fresno the next weekend just to pick it up.”

The cost to register a car for Main Street Reunion is $35, $40 after August 9th, a portion of which will be donated to the Pathway Home.  Applications are available at DoNapa.com, or by calling 257-0322.

The event is only open to 400 cars and closes when that number is reached. Registration for Show & Shine is $5, all of which will be donated to a
local charity.   

Sponsored by Blue Moon and Heineken beers, Team Superstores, Mechanics Bank, Kaiser Permanente, Napa Valley Marketplace, The North Bay Bohemian and KVON/KVYN.  Without their generous support, the show would not be possible.  Visit DoNapa.com for full details.

Show & Shine Car Show Preview   August 15th, 5 to 8:30pm

Main Street Reunion Car Show   August 16th, 10am to 3pm

Tom Malloy‘s Napa & Its Movies

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by Lauren Coodley

Thomas C. Malloy Jr. was born in town in 1911. He never forgot his mother’s death in 1917 from appendicitis when he was only six years old. After his mother died, he moved to his grandmother’s farm, east of the river at the end of Big Ranch Road. He described this area, the Duffy ranch, to me,  as “a paradise of open space, orchards, and a few settled homes.” Due to fear of the 1918–1920 influenza epidemics, he and his brother were kept out of school and tutored at the farm until the fourth grade, when they entered Salvador School. In 1921, Malloy’s father remarried and moved the two boys back into town. They graduated from St. John’s Catholic School in 1924, and from Napa High in 1928.

Most towns had at least one movie house. “One of my first memories of going to a movie was of my father taking me there, as I recall, at my insistence to see one of Jack Dempsey’s early Championship Fight films.” Malloy’s first job was in 1930 at the new 500-seat, State Theatre on 834 Main Street, between Second and Third (now part of Veteran’s Park). He would work in the motion picture business for the rest of his life. Mr. Malloy remembered sitting in Dr. C. H. Farman’s dental office on the southwest corner of First and Randolph in 1920, watching the construction of the Hippodrome, which became the Fox Theatre.  It seated 1,500 people and boasted an orchestra pit with a massive pipe organ. Mr. Malloy described hearing organist Eugene Brown, play during silent movies: “I thought he almost made the organ talk.” By 1935 he became the manager of the Fox, which showed major films and, sometimes, live presentations.

In a grand fashion, the Uptown Theatre opened in August, 1937, complete with searchlights, banners and movie stars. The first film to be shown was Ever Since Eve, starring Robert Montgomery and Marion Davies. The theatre had 1,200 seats, and Thomas Malloy became its manager. It featured a central ceiling of angels painted by muralist Dick Echeles. Malloy describes the “well-trained team of young ladies in matching uniforms” who served as usherettes. When the house was full, Malloy assigned an usher to every exit and was considered a “safety guy.”  The Napa Daily Journal of August 12, 1937 notes: “a staff of 14, trained, theater people have been engaged to serve patrons of the magnificent, new Uptown Theatre.” These included Norman Wyatt, assistant Manager, and head usherette, Eleanor Rose (who handled the staff of five other women). “Frances Gerth will occupy the position of the doorman with his assistant, Ray Nasuti.” The projectionists were Howard Brown and D.W. Aiken. “The intricate lighting system of the theatre will be maintained by JT Roberson, a veteran, electrical technician.”

Matinees attracted children like Ruth Bickford’s son, Bob, who recalls that, on Saturday afternoon, “every child’s bike was parked, unlocked, at either the Fox or the Uptown.” Beautician, Chris Aultman, especially remembers the mezzanine at the Fox: “I liked going up both sides, it reminded you of something really elegant. Napa was a country town, so this was something really special.” The companies would mail in a two hour film that included a comic and a newsreel. Mr. Malloy explained that British films were not popular in Napa.

To survive during the Depression, theatre owners devised gimmicks to persuade the public to pay the 35¢ admission price. The most popular promotion was Bank Night, which offered a cash jackpot. A cashier named Dolly handled bank night registration. Mr. Malloy remembered, “She was so good at it. I think I fell in love with Dolly from admiration.”  In 1940, they were married and they bought a house at the corner of Yajome and K Streets for $2,000, with Liberty Head Nickels saved by both of them.

By 1942, Air raid rules and blackout procedures were developed for the town. Malloy recalls: “After Pearl Harbor was bombed it was a wild time here. The manning of Monticello Road as a look-out, and the presence of Mare Island, made Napans uneasy about being a potential, enemy target. It was a trying time, and people were looking for an outlet, to get away from things. So, they went to the movies.” Because one-fifth of the 25,000 workers at Mare Island lived in Napa, special, morning matinees were scheduled for swing-shift Mare Island and Basalt workers.

Lawrence Borg was the Uptown’s original owner, until he sold it to the Blumenfeld theatre chain in 1945. Between 1947-1957, 90% of Americans bought television sets. No one realized that supplying screens for home use, signaled the beginning of the end for most movie theaters. After the advent of television, Mr. Malloy explained, “the majestic Fox was converted into a bowling alley. After a fire ravaged the structure, it was demolished in 1962.” That would’ve been 2 years into John Kennedy’s administration; Thomas and Dolly Malloy loved the Kennedy family.

In 1949, Mr. Malloy moved his family to Spruce Street, a block east of  South Jefferson Street.  Tom and Dolly were blessed with 4 children: Thomas, Phillip, Kathleen, and Patricia. Between 1950-1976, he commuted to San Francisco in his new role of General Manager for the Lawrence Borg, and his various real estate properties located in both Northern and Southern California, while continuing to manage Borg’s two other remaining Northern California theatres in San Jose and Salinas. Mr. Borg stipulated  that when he died (he died in 1954), all properties in his estate be sold unless Tom Malloy would stay on to manage them. Mr. Malloy did manage Borg’s Trust until 1999.

By 1973, the Uptown Theatre was remodeled. Stephanie Farrell Grohs recalls: “It was 1976. I was searching for a job, and was just starting at the JC and living at home. Mr. McKnight interviewed me and liked the idea of hiring a college student.  I began by stocking the candy counter: popcorn, hotdogs, and candy. I worked my way up to being the head cashier. I sold tickets and balanced the books at the end of the night. Everyone coming to an opening went by me; I knew who was out on a date. I wore a polyester, blue, zip-up jacket, not unlike the uniforms of nursing-home, care attendants, with closed-toed shoes. The cashier before me transferred to Berkeley and I followed her the next year.”

In 1977 the first VCR in America went on sale. Blockbuster movie-rental stores opened in 1985. It began to be possible to watch movies at home. In 1986, the theatre was again divided, this time into four spaces. That must have been when I watched The Journey of Natty Gann with my daughter. The Uptown changed hands several times throughout the 90’s, and I remember watching Cinema Paradiso with my son. Dolly Malloy died in 1992.

In 1998, the theatre again re-opened, featuring
independent/art, house films. My colleague, Professor Doug Dibble, and I filled the theatre with students to watch The Ballad of Little Jo. That same year, online video-rental began. One more blow to the viability of movie theatres and, eventually, to video stores. The theatre was shuttered until 2000, when George Altamura and partners took ownership of the Uptown, and began a massive renovation project to turn the old movie theatre into a live-music venue. Mr. Malloy was invited by George Altamura to consult on the restoration of the Uptown Project, right down to the last detail.

He proudly attended the press conference for the reopening.

Thomas C. Malloy Jr. died at the age of 96 on February 9, 2008. He wrote a memoir when he was 88 years old about the “many gifts that I had been given in my lifetime.” Among them, he lists, “the values and examples of my parents and grandparents, and the civility that distinguished the decades of my generation.” Spruce Street is “where I now live alone imbued with the memories of my late wife, Dolly, and family life with our four children,” and where I visited him and took these photographs. Patti, his youngest daughter, is now living in the family home, carefully guarding the Malloy legacy on Spruce Street. She writes:

Anytime and every time we went out to dinner in Napa (to one of the 4 restaurants existing at the time), someone would approach our table to tell my Dad that he had given them their first job at the Uptown Theatre, and that he was the best boss they ever had.  He always remembered their names.

In 2003, Mr. Malloy handed me a lemon off his tree, one of those quiet moments in the life of a local historian
that lingers in memory, both tart and sweet.

Big Fun at the Napa Town and Country Fair – July 16-20th

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By Kristin Ranuio

The Napa Town and Country Fair this year will be held earlier than usual, running from July 16-20. The sooner the better!

In past years the Fair has been in August. The move to July offers many benefits to fairgoers. Holding the fair sooner means more vendor options, no more conflict with our friends at the Sonoma County Fair, and that families with kids no longer have a conflict with the dates of the Fair in getting ready to go back to school.

There are also new features at the fair, including a new midway run by Helms and Sons Amusements. Highly regarded as one of the top in the industry, Helms and Sons Amusements offer a wide variety of exciting, new rides, as well as old favorites. Their spectacular rides represent some of the best in the world, with an absolute commitment to safety. Their selection of rides includes some that are unique and rarely seen in midways, such as the Giant Wheel that rises 110 feet in the air, and some that are fun for all ages, such as the Grand Carousel, one of the largest models built.

Those rides will be in, not one, but two carnival sections this year. Cub Country, for the little ones, will feature rides for the littlest fairgoers, with plenty of shaded seating for the grown-ups. The Family Ride carnival section will feature fun and rides for the entire family, including thrill rides; the whirling Wave Swinger, and the classic Tilt-A-Whirl and Merry-Go-Round.

The Napa Town and Country Fair also offers a great music lineup on the main stage this year, including Loverboy, Three Dog Night, Mark Chestnutt, and more. The small stage has been moved to offer more seating, and will feature heavy metal and mariachi-infused Metalachi, The Spazmatics, The 60’s British Invasion, Nathan Owens Motown, Soul Review, and others.

The entertainment doesn’t stop there. The Napa Town and Country Talent Show, produced in association with Lucky Penny Productions, returns this year with prizes in three categories, youth, teen, and adults. There is also a roaming game-show, Kids Celebration, which will be turning up all over the fair, giving you the chance to be a part of the game right on the spot.

Mindworks! Interactive Exhibit will be over 40,000 square feet of interactive fun. Think life-size Operation games and more in the gaming area.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is bringing us “Walk on the Wild Side,” with exotic animals, wildlife education. There will also be the traditional livestock shows, the ever-popular Destruction Derby, and Bull-Ya! Bull Riding Event.

None of the fun and features at the fair this year come with a cost increase. Adult tickets are $13, youth (6-12) and seniors (60+) are $10, and children under five are free.

The Napa Town and Country Fair has been refreshed with new rides, new vendors, and new dates, with a lot of the familiar fun we remember from years past.

Come out and get your Firemen’s corn on the cob, Browns Valley Hamburgers, and corn dogs. Kick your feet up and enjoy some cotton candy in the shade, or listen to great music under the stars. Watch the little ones squeal with delight as the young and young at heart try their hand at carnival games. Ride the rides you already love and maybe find a new one to thrill you. This year, the Napa Town and Country Fair is Big Fun, and the sooner the better. This year the fair is sooner, and it is going to be better than ever!
See you there!

Porchfest 2014 “Out of the Garage & Onto the Porch”

By Louisa Hufstader

Napa Porchfest Returns  for 4th Year

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They say there’s a book in all of us – stories about entrepreneurial achievements, autobiographies, historical novels, or maybe even epic sport contests.

On the last Sunday of every July, Napa  comes alive with music as scores of local bands and solo performers showcase their sounds
for thousands of listeners in the city’s historic neighborhoods.

Napa Porchfest — coming up July 27, 2014 from 1 to 6 p.m. — puts performers on porches for an afternoon of free, live entertainment that covers the musical map from classical and folk to rock, jazz, electronica and, occasionally, genre-defying, performance art.

“Out of the garage and onto the porch” is the unofficial motto of this all-volunteer festival, which has been a hit with locals since its inception in 2011. Last year’s Porchfest presented 84 Napa acts on 42 porches, and drew more than 4,000 people to neighborhood streets where they strolled, biked, skateboarded and Segwayed from house to house, often posting their adventures on social media:

“Awesome community event!! Bringing neighbors and generations together. Well done.” (Facebook comment)

“We sipped cool refreshments, visited with friends new and old while we listened to some really awesome music. What a great way to spend the day!! Thank you to everyone for making this day extra special.” (Facebook comment)

“Biking around the neighborhoods for this event was especially nice this year because I was with a guest from Missouri who had never been to Napa and was smiling all the way.” (napavalleyregister.com comment)

“Porchfest is our homegrown, hometown, most favorite event!” (Festival co-founder Juliana Inman in a Facebook review)

Street closure in the works

“The 2014 festival will retain some of the most popular Porchfest elements from 2013, including food trucks and T-shirt sales at the Napa County Library,” said co-founder and music coordinator, Thea Witsil.

A similar downtown hub is expected to pop up behind City Winery at the Napa Valley Opera House. “They’re going to build a porch behind the Opera House” for performers, and there will be room for food trucks there as well,” she said.

Along with refreshments, shade and seating for the weary, these public Porchfest hosts also provide bathroom facilities not available in most neighborhood areas.

For the first time, Porchfest organizers and the city of Napa are working to close a city street during the festival. It likely will be Oak Street, where traffic-clogging crowds have gathered during each previous year.

“The deadline for musicians to sign up is March 31, and by Valentine’s Day 48 groups had already claimed spots on the Porchfest roster,” Witsil said.

“It’s basically first come, first served,” she explained. “You want to play, you get to play.”

Performers wishing to take part in the 2014 festival should email her at theaporchfest@gmail.com, although the sign-up process is slated to be automated soon: Thanks to profits from Napa Porchfest T-shirts, sold last year for the first time, “we can actually pay somebody to do our website” (napaporchfest.org), Witsil said. Once redesigned, the website will have a signup form for musicians.

Sponsored in its first year by Witsil’s First Street boutique and Napa County Landmarks, with a budget of less than $100, Napa Porchfest gained DoNapa.com as an additional sponsor after its 2011 debut earned rave reviews from visitors as well as locals.

Porchfest can also claim bragging rights for having inspired the much larger, admission-charging, BottleRock Festival, which made its debut in 2013 and returned this May 30 through June 1, under new management.

Witsil books the Napa talent for BottleRock’s, Barracuda Wildcat Stage at Chardonnay Hall. And, while she makes it clear that it’s not a “Porchfest stage,” some of her Porchfest favorites will be
appearing, she said.

“There are certainly not a lot of venues” for Napa musicians, she said. “That’s why we create these things.”

The original Porchfest was founded in Ithaca, N.Y. in 2007, and has inspired similar festivals in many other communities. Napa’s is the first Porchfest to be established west of Cleveland.

Follow Napa Porchfest on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Napa-Porchfest/198470643510714

On Twitter: @NapaPorchfest

Online: napaporchfest.org