These events love local — things that help make our community look its best. We’re also celebrating new openings, arts and culture and anniversaries of the places that make our county great.
Here are some of the latest events showcasing our community:
Lifehouse Celebrates Volunteers, Sponsors and Staff at Annual Awards Dinner
350 guests filled the banquet hall at the Embassy Suites on November 3 to recognize the outstanding contributions of businesses and individuals standing behind Lifehouse, a dynamic organization serving adults with developmental disabilities for nearly 70 years. Former Marin County School Superintendent Mary Jane Burke led the recognition ceremony—a 27-year tradition for the nonprofit—that honored guests including Rob Devincenzi who won the Charles L Martin award and Sue Dizon who won Volunteer of the Year, along with key business partners Safeway and Left Bank. Photos: Richard Wheeler
Milley Awards Return to Mill Valley
October 22 marked the return of the annual Milley Awards at the Mill Valley Community Center—a ceremony and dinner honoring outstanding individuals for their creative achievements in several categories: musical arts (Suzanne Ciani), performance (Tiffany Shlain), creative contributions to the community (Tim Ryan). literary arts (Tom Singer) and visual arts (Ute Goggins). The award series, established in 1994, is dedicated to those who were either born, educated, worked or have lived in the town of Mill Valley.
An Inaugural Toast to Sausalito
The first-ever A Toast to Sausalito festival, held October 21, highlighted the fun, creative and vibrant community that is Sausalito. More than 2,500 people showed up to peruse a quarter-mile lineup on Caledonia Street full of local artisans and vendors, plus be entertained by performers on three stages—including violinist Chris Lynch, house boat band Jack Justice, funk band Marc and the Casuals and salsa musicians Edgardo & Candela.
Mill Valley Film Festival Draws 30,000 Attendees
Maestro was the closing night film for the 46th Mill Valley Film Festival, capping off 11 days of films, panels, parties and musical performances at the annual autumn showcase which drew 30,000 attendees this year. Additionally, MVFF Education reached over 5,600 students across the U.S. with virtual programming, in-person screenings, and school visits in Marin, San Francisco and the East Bay.
Bank of Marin celebrated the winners of its annual Spirit of Marin Award at a luncheon held on September 29 at the Marin Center. The award recognizes citizens who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to Marin County through their leadership, volunteerism and philanthropy. Brad Montague, New York Times best-selling author and creator of the hit web series Kid President, gave the keynote address. Photos: Richard Wheeler
There’s nothing like a chili cook-off to bring out fiercely competitive spirits, all of whom showed up pot-in-hand to Dunphy Park on September 23 for Sausalito’s 44th Annual Chili Cook-Off. Event goers were able to sample the goods and watch a few extra brave souls participate in a hot pepper eating contest. The day’s top prize winners included the Double J Chili Team (Judges’ Choice) and Unsinkable Chili (People’s Choice). Captain Smokey & the Chili Pillagers won the best booth prize. Photos: Abbot Chambers
Community leaders and involved citizens celebrated the opening of Marin City’s Health and Wellness Center’s brand new, nearly 24,000 square foot, $3.8 million building on September 21 with a ribbon cutting and tours. The facility, which will offer comprehensive medical, dental and behavioral health services, has a mission of African American health equity and is expected to serve 8,000 patients annually. Photos: Herman Privette, Xander Videography, Mimi Towle
On August 9, 170 Marin schoolkids received backpacks filled with essential school supplies along with a $100 gift card for new school apparel courtesy of Ritter Center, which assists with homelessness and people living in poverty in Marin County. Families expressed gratitude for the gifts, given the rising cost of school supplies along with skyrocketing rent and food prices. Photos: courtesy of Ritter Center
Well-wishers gathered in downtown San Anselmo on August 4 along with San Anselmo mayor Steve Burdo for the unveiling of the town’s newest beautification gift — a large-scale mosaic installation with the theme “Choose Kindness.” As a collaboration between Cedars artists, local artists and the San Anselmo Arts Commission, the colorful installation is composed of 32 panels and features the town’s icon, Sugarfoot the deer. Photos: courtesy of Cedars
Aldersly, a San Rafael-based nonprofit for seniors, commemorated an official groundbreaking of its Marselisborg residence expansion on July 19. The expansion project will add 35 new residences for older adults in San Rafael. Shannon Brown, Aldersly’s executive director, welcomed attendees including current resident and former San Rafael mayor, Al Boro. Photos: Bill Reitzel.
On July 25, Marin Magazine’s own Dine editor Christina Mueller led a talk with London-based pastry chef and author Claire Ptak in front of a packed house at the Mill Valley Public Library. Ptak, a Chez Panisse alum who grew up in Point Reyes, took the world stage when she was tapped by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to create their now-famous lemon elderflower wedding cake. She shared stories as well as insights from her latest book, Love is a Pink Cake. Photos: Christina Mueller
Vivalon teamed up with the Multicultural Center of Marin to host an intergenerational outing to China Camp State Park on June 30 — which included a guided nature walk led in Spanish by Marco Berger from the Multicultural Center of Marin, followed by a picnic lunch overlooking San Pablo Bay. The China Camp outing is part of a series aimed at bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together to enjoy the beauty of Marin’s parks. Photos: Courtesy of Vivalon
Over 300 attendees, including many Marin residents and business owners, came together at Sausalito’s Marina Plaza for Marin Magazine’s sold out Best of the County party. Guests enjoyed delectable offerings from Stacy Scott Catering, fine wines provided by Anaba Wines, Domaine Carneros Winery, J Vineyards & Winery, Louis M. Martini Winery, as well as canned cocktails and beer from Salt Point and East Brother Beer Company. B12 Love – Brand Page administered signature shots, Nice Gals Delivery doled out swag bags, Navier introduced its electric hydrofoiling boat and West Coast Good Times had the perfect soundtrack for it all. The Documattarian, SnapFiesta and Steven Gregory Photography captured the evening, including the elegant decor by 38north Design Co. A portion of the proceeds went to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank.
Sausalito, which has long been considered a gay friendly community, just wrapped its inaugural, month long Pride Celebration. The festivities started on June 9 with an opening night event at Sausalito Center for the Arts and preview of new photography exhibit Homosocial, followed by a mid-June book signing with author Bill W. Jones (Bachelor Father: The First Single Man to Legally Adopt a Child in America) at Sausalito Books by the Bay and Pride Night at Jazz and Blues by the Bay. The celebration culminated with a drag-themed fundraiser hosted on July 1 by Sausalito Pride Ambassadors Wayne Kaleck and Michael Rose at Gene Hiller Menswear. All events were spearheaded by a diverse team of volunteers in partnership with The Spahr Center, Marin County’s only LGBTQ+ nonprofit. Photos: Courtesy of Sausalito Pride
Felecia Gaston of the Marin City Historical & Preservation Society joined forces with the Marin Community Foundation on June 15 for a special private reception and showing of Marin City: Our Legacy is Here to Stay 1942–1960. The exhibit was filled with photos of Black citizens from the era, along with other memorabilia and historical artifacts from the time period. Photos: Herman Privette
Saturday, June 3 marked the one-year anniversary of Club Evexia in Mill Valley — the luxury wellness community hub celebrated the occasion with a day of free yoga, dance and exercise classes, wellness chat sessions, giveaways from partners and dance tunes provided by West Coast Good Times. During a lively set by Michael LaMacchia’s Bumpin band, Club Evexia’s own Scott Raymond made a guest appearance on the drums. Photos: Prismic Photography
Bridge the Gap, which has a 28-year history of supporting underserved students in Marin City and Southern Marin on their paths to high school graduation and college completion, was recently selected as a California Nonprofit of the Year. Nominated for the honor by Assemblymember Damon Connolly, the organization was recognized on June 7 for its outstanding contributions at a luncheon held on the capitol grounds in Sacramento. Photos: courtesy of CalNonprofits
More than 900 animal lovers and their four-legged friends partied down at Marin Humane’s extensive grounds on May 7 at Woofstock, a beloved music event that benefits the shelter’s animals. Guests enjoyed food, beer and wine, animal-themed vendors, a wide array of raffle items and the main attraction, local favorite band Petty Theft. More than $65,000 was raised at the event for Marin’s only animal shelter. Photos: courtesy of Marin Humane
The Healdsburg Wine and Food Experience, held May 18-21, was a weekend-long celebration featuring the best of Sonoma County and its world-renowned food and wines. The festival honed in on the region’s makers, including farmers, growers, winemakers and chefs. Along with the Grand Tasting event with nearly 200 wineries, highlights included a farm-to-glass cocktail seminar, culinary demos and dinners with renowned chefs, and a live outdoor concert featuring musical duo Maddie & Tae. Photos: Gamma Nine Photography
Supporters of Ritter Center in San Rafael gave up their warm beds for a night on May 20 as part of the organization’s annual Under the Stars Sleepout to End Homelessness. Designed to raise awareness of the complexity of homelessness, the sleepout also generated $95,000 in funds for Ritter’s vital programs. Early in the evening, guests gathered at the San Rafael Elks Club Lodge for barbecue, games and a silent auction; and later returned home to sleep in their chosen area such as in a backyard or car, on the floor of their home, or in any safe, uncomfortable place. Photos: courtesy of Ritter Center
The annual Mill Valley Music Festival returned to the stage on May 13 and 14, attracting more than 10,000 music lovers from across the Bay Area. Hosted by the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce, fans of all ages were treated to more than 20 acts on two stages, including headliners Michael Franti & Spearhead as well as Sacramento-born Cake. Beyond the music, festival-goers were offered a true taste of the good life in Mill Valley with access to a large and curated assortment of the region’s best artisans, food vendors and philanthropic organizations, plus family-friendly activities like a roller skating rink and arcade, immersive art installations, local craft beer and hidden speakeasies. Photos: Jon Bauer, William Wayland
April 29th, local nonprofit Play Marin in partnership with Marin Magazine kicked off the first annual Player’s Night in Sausalito. Supporters enjoyed mechanical bull riding with a backdrop of Mt. Tam, music by DJ West Coast Good Times, vintage arcade games, and food and drinks by Dee’s Organic Catering, Salt Point and Baldacci Vineyards. Highlights included Paul Austin, Play Marin’s founder, handing out Play Marin basketballs to everyone who joined the sustainer’s club. Photos: Kahlil Photography
On May 4, the luxurious Alexandrite Suite atop the Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa was abuzz during Marin Magazine’s popular Celebrating Women event. The annual gathering, which also commemorates the magazine’s May issue, brought together more than 100 accomplished women from all walks of life, all of whom enjoyed lively conversation, cocktails provided by Abana Wines and Hanson Vodka and tasty bites by Poggio Trattoria. Premier sponsor Whittier Trust sent each guest home with a gift bag stuffed with items for much-needed rejuvenation. Photos: Steven Gregory Photography
More than a dozen young singers welcomed spring by performing classic love songs as well as musical selections from James Bond films during the annual Spring Fling concert at the Throckmorton Theatre on April 22. The youth are part of the Narada Michael Walden Foundation Academy, an immersive, educational, and inclusive real-world experience in the art of music and production. Under the guidance of Narada Michael Walden himself, all performing youth put together the show in an accelerated production experience over 8 weeks. Photos: Dan Gallemore
On April 30 at the Marin Art and Garden Center, National Charity League’s Southern Marin Chapter honored its graduating class of 21 Marin high school students, who were recognized for six years of community service. Together with their mothers, these Marin students have volunteered with a number of nonprofits since 7th grade—including feeding the homeless, supporting senior citizens and disabled individuals and tutoring low-income youth for college success. Collectively, the mother-daughter teams collectively served more than 5,700 volunteer hours. Photos: courtesy of National Charity League’s Southern Marin Chapter
Marin youth were able to flex their mental muscles at the county’s Youth Town Hall on April 23. The inspiring afternoon drew in civic-minded teens and young adults from around the county, who posed questions to a panel of 10 of Marin’s leaders including mayors, vice-mayors and council members and mingled with elected officials afterwards. It was part of the Marin County Student Elections Ambassador Program, designed to encourage more youth civic activity and voter participation. Photos: courtesy of County of Marin
For many, Sausalito is ground-zero for candy-filled egg treasure hunters—and this year was no exception as kids of all ages snapped up thousands of treats in a mere minutes at Sausalito’s annual Easter egg hunt on April 8. Even grownups could get in on the action during the first 21-and-over adult egg hunt, with more than $3000 in prizes from local businesses and restaurants to be found. The Easter Bunny made his appearance during the town’s traditional Easter Parade, which wound down Caledonia Street to Dunphy Park. Photos: Debbie Ford-Scriba for Sausalito Parks and Recreation
On March 23, Club Evexia and The Hivery, in partnership with Marin Magazine, hosted a fundraiser for local nonprofit Play Marin — an organization providing opportunities for kids of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds in Southern Marin to learn and grow together through play. Supporters packed Club Evexia’s event center to hear Paul Austin, the nonprofit’s CEO and founder, share his vision for its future. By the end of the evening, Play Marin had secured $20,000 in total pledge commitments. Photos: Kristen Loken Photography
The Marin American Indian Alliance hosted the county’s First Annual Marin Powwow on March 19 at Miller Creek Middle School, bringing together 1,000 individuals to celebrate the cultural diversity of several indigenous peoples. The festivities included three drum groups: Northern Drums All Nations and The Braves and one Southern Drum, Red Buffalo; a number of indigenous arts and crafts vendors, and performances by traditional Native American dancers, Pomo/Miwok dancers, Aztec dancers and Hawaiian dancers.
An extensive range of artwork created by budding artists from Marin’s public, private and alternative high schools is the centerpiece of Youth in Arts’ annual Rising Stars show, which opened February 11 at the YIA Gallery in downtown San Rafael. The show consists of drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures, mixed media and digital artwork, all of which will be on display and available to see at no cost until April 14.
Taking a respite from the rain and with visions of sunshine and spring travel in mind, nearly 100 guests gathered at the Beacon Grand Hotel on March 15 to celebrate the Spring issue of Local Getaways. The event also recognized the recipients of its annual Getties awards, with guests toasting the winners with wines from Rodney Strong and libations from Salt Point. Photos: Steven Gregory Photography
The newly formed Sausalito Center For The Arts officially opened February 16 with a ribbon cutting ceremony presented by Sausalito Mayor Melissa Blaustein. The event was attended by community leaders, artists and the public at large to celebrate the achievement of creating a non-profit, multi-use artistic venue in the heart of downtown Sausalito with county-wide appeal. Photos: Gary Ferber Photography
Supporters and staffers of Marin Magazine gathered at Floodwater in Mill Valley in January and Perry’s in Larkspur in February to commemorate the first two issues of 2023, both of which featured new cover art and a refreshed design.
On Sunday, February 5, the San Francisco Symphony ushered in the Year of the Rabbit with its Lunar New Year: Year of the Rabbit concert and banquet at Davies Symphony Hall. It was the 23rd anniversary of the signature event, which always draws upon vibrant Asian past and present traditions. Along with the traditional concert led by Conductor Earl Lee, other entertainment included a festive round of lion dancing and solos by Sumi Jo. Photos: Drew Altizer Photography
On February 11, Marin County represented well, as in many from the area drove up to the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn to take part in its Secret Love Affair soiree. The event featured Michelin Three Star Chef Alvin Leung and Emmy award winner Patti Austin, with guests enjoying the pairing of a multi-course meal with Patti’s vocals, including her touching tribute to her longtime friend, Burt Bacharat.
The Sausalito Center for the Arts was abuzz with alternative art aficionados on January 14, who were there to preview Jewels of the Playa: The Photography, Art and Fashion of Burning Man. The two-week exhibit, which featured photographs from Burning Man documentarian Eleanor Preger, art from multiple Burning Man Honorarium recipient Laura Kimpton, and festival couture from local designer Rebecca Bruce, also served to raise additional funds for the new art center in downtown Sausalito, which is set to fully open in early 2023.
More than one-third of Marin’s residents will be seniors by 2030, and many of them will be supported by Vivalon’s Healthy Aging Campus scheduled to open later this year in downtown San Rafael. Major donors, including Susan and Dennis Gilardi, gathered on December 16 for a “topping off” ceremony at the site, during which the last pieces of lumber were nailed down followed by individuals writing their names and best wishes onto a beam of wood. The campus will combine traditional medical services with coordinated care, social engagement, learning opportunities, nutrition services and activities and programs designed to promote healthy aging, along with 67 units of affordable senior homes in partnership with Eden Housing.
Festively lit and decorated vessels filled the waters of the Sausalito Harbor during the 36th annual Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade on December 10, as bundled-up observers lined up on the waterfront to enjoy the show. Accompanying fireworks amped up the holiday spirit, and those wanting to keep the merriment going attended the captain’s after-party at The Spinnaker with a live band, dancing and a no-host bar.
Schoolchildren from across Marin gathered at Larkspur City Hall on December 8 to receive their winning prizes for the “Why I Love Libraries” art contest. The contest, hosted by The Commons Foundation which has led fundraising for the new Larkspur Library, asked kids ranging from first graders to middle schoolers to submit physical art, digital art, video and poetry that shows their love for libraries, reading and books. Larky, the Larkspur Library mascot, was on hand to congratulate all the winning contestants.
Oracle Park was transformed into a holiday wonderland on December 6 during the 25th annual Holiday Heroes. The celebrity-filled evening offered boundless holiday fun to over 400 children and their families, many of whom come from underserved communities. Hosted by San Francisco Giants sidelines reporter Amy G and featuring professional athletes Patrick Willis, Dennis Brown, Joe Cannon and Khari Stephenson, the event served as a fundraiser for the Wender Weis Foundation For Children.
The ICB Art Studios in Sausalito hosted its 53rd Annual Winter Open Studios the first weekend in December, to the delight of art lovers and families curious to visit the historic building with over 90 studios featuring a variety of accomplished artists—painters, sculptors, photographers, fiber and digital artists. Approximately 1,500 visitors came from the Bay Area and beyond to mingle with the artists, view artwork and purchase original work directly.
For five decades, Marin’s much-beloved live music venue, the Sweetwater, has drawn in countless rock and blues icons, including the county’s own Jerry Garcia, Sammy Hagar and Huey Lewis. Originally opened in 1972 in Mill Valley former watering hole, the Sweetwater closed for five years before reopening in a new, larger locale as Sweetwater Music Hall. On November 17, Grateful Dead founding member Bobby Weir and friends played for an enthusiastic packed house at the non-profit venue’s 50th anniversary fundraiser event.
In November, the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce embarked on its first Tiburon Gives Back program to support the SF-Marin Food Bank, beginning with a festive launch party on November 2 at The Caprice. More than 20 area businesses, including Sam’s Anchor Cafe, The Bungalow Kitchen by Michael Mina and the Perfect Provenance, promoted various give-back incentives and solicited donations.
Sound Summit, presented by nonprofit Roots & Branches Conservancy, returned to the hills of Mount Tamalpais on October 22 for another daylong celebration of music and community. The annual gathering at the Mountain Theater featured musical headliner The War On Drugs along with critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Faye Webster, cherished indie folk-rockers Fruit Bats and local California soul ensemble Wreckless Strangers. Of the $250,000 raised at the event, a portion will help underwrite a restoration project for the Steep Ravine Trail, scheduled to reopen in February 2023.
While you couldn’t quite tell from the blazing temps, Fall arrived in Mill Valley in late September thanks to two back-to-back weekend events: the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival in Old Mill Park and the homegrown Mill Valley Block Party in downtown Mill Valley. The former was a celebration of the arts amongst the redwoods; the latter a 24-year community tradition with a locally curated fashion show and beer garden serving as fundraiser for KIDDO.
The 45th Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF45) was an amazing 11 days of films, panels, parties, and musical performances at the annual autumn showcase. During this year’s festival, audiences flocked to Marin theaters and enjoyed live music shows at Sweetwater Music Hall.
Festival goers discovered awe-inspiring films from around the globe and celebrated many talented Bay Area filmmakers and acclaimed filmmakers from countries worldwide. And received an early look at upcoming Oscar® contenders, including Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale with Brendan Fraser, Till with Chinonye Chukwu, White Noise with Noah Baumbach, and Women Talking with Academy Award®-winning actress Frances McDormand.
MVFF’s popular Education program reached over 10,000 students across the US with virtual programming, in-person screenings followed by live Q&As, and school visits throughout Marin, San Francisco, and the East Bay with local and visiting filmmakers.
Photos by Mo DeLong
Friends, colleagues and advertisers turned out to celebrate Marin Magazine joining Local Getaways and becoming a part of 270 Media on November 3 at Casa Madrona in Sausalito. Guests were served food from Poggio, Salt Point cocktails and Anaba Wines. One lucky attendee won an airplane ride from Sausalito’s Seaplane Adventures.
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Marin City residents and supporters wrapped up a yearlong celebration of its 80th anniversary with a stalwart Blues ‘N’ Soul Party in The Park on Labor Day. Nearly 3,000 people came together to enjoy arts and crafts, a car exhibit and local food purveyors, plus free performances by Bay Area artists including The Spiritual Keys and Grammy nominee Andre Thierry. It was the culmination of a year of activities, exhibitions and the official launch of the Marin City Historical and Preservation Society.
On August 18, Marin Magazine staff, along with hundreds of winners from its annual Best of the County issue, gathered to celebrate being the best at Perry’s on Magnolia (winner of the Best Bar category). They were entertained by Best Music Venue winner Sweetwater’s consistently sold-out headliner, Dan Durkin (of Petty Theft and the Illegals), and savored fabulous wines from Anaba and Domaine Carneros.
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Historian and matriarch Felecia Gaston’s new cookbook, Grandmothers Feed Us Love, is a Southern-style recipe collection and laudation of the grandmotherly love and soulful cooking of the many Black women she’s met in Marin City since the 1980s.
Cheryl Popp of Sausalito Books by the Bay hosted a signing party for the book on August 8, bringing in a standing-room-only crowd. At the center was Gaston, along with five of the grandmothers featured in the book, autographing copies and chatting with well-wishers, while Sausalito Woman’s Club members passed around desserts made from the book’s recipes, including pound cake and chocolate pudding cookies. Supporters snatched up all the available books that evening, with sales benefitting the Marin City Historical and Preservation Society.
“Grandmothers Feed Us Love is a reminder of the power of the human spirit to bring people together over a good meal,” Gaston says. “It also gives us a chance, as we do in various African traditions, to lift up our elders.”
Coming up at the bookstore in October: signing for The Midnight Library by Matt Haig on October 11; and a third anniversary party with live music, bites, libations and local authors at the Sausalito Yacht Harbor Marina Dock on October 16.
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