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Call for Antique Vendors
by Petaluma Downtown on 

Applications are now available for Antique Fair vendors. The faire takes place September 30, 2018 in Historic Downtown Petaluma. Attracting residents from all over the Bay Area, and beautiful weather at that time of year, it is one of the most popular antique faires to attend. Go to the Antique Faire page on our website.

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The Great Summer Sidewalk Sale!
by Petaluma Downtown on 

Join the downtown merchants Thursday, July 19 through Saturday, July 21 as they roll out savings for you! Look for the Sidewalk Sale Flyers in their windows then shop til you drop! You can see who is participating by clicking here.

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Volunteers Needed for Festival
by Petaluma Downtown on 

Hello wonderful people! We need volunteers for the Art & Garden Festival on July 8! We have all kinds of opportunities available. From helping kids make crafts and bounce in the jump house to making sure beer booths have ice and everything in between. Volunteers get a discount tasting package, lunch and an exclusive t-shirt. Click HERE to go the the online volunteer form or call Kathy for more information at 707-769-0429.

Thank you for your consideration!

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Art & Garden Apps Now Available
by Petaluma Downtown on 

All applications for Vendors, Restaurants, Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries are now available online as well as Sponsorship and Commercial Vendor Packages. Please go to the Art & Garden Page to find them.

This event, taking place on July 8, 2018, attracts 12-14,000 visitors and is the ideal showcase for your business. Now, in it's 17th year, the opportunity to market to new customers couldn't be better.
Seize the day!

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Tom Gaffey named 2018 Good Egg
by Petaluma Downtown on 

Phoenix Theater general manager keeps the doors open for Petaluma teens

When Tom Gaffey returned to Petaluma in 1983 after running a theater in Cloverdale and was asked by friends if he would manage the Phoenix Theater, he said yes, thinking to himself that he would stay for six months, or at the most, a year. It would be a short-term gig before buying the perfect RV and heading out to cruise the country.

 

“But things never work out the way I plan it,” Tom says.

 

As the Petaluma community will attest, thank goodness Tom’s plans went awry because as the general manager of the Phoenix Theater, Tom has been nurturing creativity and confidence in Petaluma’s teens and giving them the space to express it for 35 years.  For his selfless dedication to fostering community spirit and positive promotion of Petaluma, Tom Gaffey has been selected at the 2018 Good Egg Award recipient.

 

“Our young people are our most valuable resource and Tom has dedicated his life to ensuring a great start for these talented Petalumans. He is a local hero,” Eric J. Adams stated in his nomination form.

 

Local therapist Kathleen Adams who specializes in working with teens made a powerful statement in her nomination form about the impact that Tom has had on Petaluma’s youth. “I know for a fact that Tom has saved lives! Tom has invested in our youth and offers a safe haven for them to explore their music, art and soul.”

 

One of the reasons that Tom has had such success in working with teens is that he doesn’t have an agenda for the way the building is used or the activities at the Phoenix, as long as it is safe and law-abiding. Tom jokes in his characteristic humility that his main talent is “opening the doors and saying ‘no.’” In actuality, he is a facilitator, empowering teens to bring their ideas for music, art and self-expression. He doesn’t take on their project; ownership stays with the originator.

 

“People come up with ideas. Can we do murals on the wall, or build a skate ramp? I said no three times to the ramp, until they showed up with tools and built it. When I’m doing it best, I’m keeping my eyes open but getting out of the way.”

 

Tom’s history with the Phoenix Theater, originally built in 1905 as an opera house, began when it was a discount movie house in the early 1980s. “With the advent of movie multiplexes, the handwriting was on the wall that it couldn’t stay a theater, but what to do with the big, creaky, drafty building?”

 

With a capacity of just over 700, Tom saw the opportunity to experiment with booking live bands at the Phoenix including nationally known musicians such as the Neville Brothers. He recalls a sold-out show for the Violent Femmes in 1985. “The place erupted and that was really the starting gun. Let’s keep doing that.” Tom and some of the teens who frequented the shows worked together booking bands. He was eventually joined by Jim Agius, president of operations for Petaluma Market, who Tom describes as “a consummate booker for their market.”

 

Tom has been behind the scenes and sometimes literally in the middle of the action when he and 500 other audience members are on the floor at the Phoenix, feeling the energy of rock, metal, punk, alternative, or rap performances. “It’s been an incredible ride for me, through no design of my own.”

 

The positive impact that Tom has had on the community goes far beyond establishing the Phoenix Theater as a popular music venue. It’s his open-door policy that gives teens the space to play music, rehearse on stage, jam, skateboard or just hang out after school…all under Tom’s supportive and watchful eye.

 

“Ask around and you’ll find story after story of Tom taking the time to get to know our local kids, guide them, and teach them self-confidence,” says Kathleen Adams.

 

Tom recalls how thrilled he was as a young man to meet newspaper columnist Bill Soberanes and walk in the footsteps of people important to Petaluma’s history. By giving back to the “town that raised me,” Tom is building a legacy of young people who will continue contributing to the community. “I found life serving the youth audience and I would like it to continue. It is my honor to see these kids grow up to be successful people.”

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2018 Grand Marshal - Steve & Judy Mahrt
by Petaluma Downtown on 

Long time poultry producers hatched the “Cutest Little Chick Contest”

Someone who isn’t familiar with Petaluma might think that the Butter & Egg Days Parade is only about celebrating a period of time in our past; a throwback to an era when family farms typified the community and almost every household kept chickens.

 

But Petaluma’s significance as an egg producing community didn’t stop when Bert Kerrigan and the Egg Day Parades left Petaluma in the late 1920s. Family farms are not an anachronism; they are thriving, evolving, and forward-looking enterprises. And none personify this better than the Mahrt family who began selling eggs when Petaluma was known as the “World’s Egg Basket,” continue to succeed as one of the few independent egg farms in Northern California, and are training the next generation to carry the business into the future.

 

With the 2018 parade theme celebrating the “hatching” of the first Egg Day Parade in 1918, Steve and Judy Mahrt are honored as the Grand Marshal; literally millions upon millions of eggs have been hatched on their two farms during their 35 years in business. And another feather in their cap; the Mahrts hatched the “Cutest Little Chick Contest” in 1984 and continue to organize and sponsor the crowd-pleasing event.

 

The history of the “Cutest Chick Contest” started when the Mahrts were approached by Linda Buffo and Alice Forsyth who two years earlier had reinvented the “Egg Day Parade” as the “Butter & Egg Days Parade.” “Because the original parade had an ‘Egg Queen,’ they wanted us to sponsor an ‘Egg Princess Contest,’” says Steve. Instead, he suggested a “Cutest Little Chick Contest,” a natural association for an egg producer.

 

Because it would be impossible to judge which toddler dressed in pounds of feathers is the “cutest,” the winner is chosen by whose costume interprets the parade and chicken theme the best. In addition to taking sign-ups for 80 children and running the busy event on the day of the parade, the Mahrts make a big investment in time and manpower prior to the parade, decorating “Judy’s Barnyard Stage” to tie into the parade theme.

 

“Since we’ve been running the contest for almost 35 years, we now have kids of kids participating. It’s a lot of fun to see the next generation involved.” The “Cutest Little Chick Contest” takes place on parade day, April 28 at 10:15am on Kentucky Street in front of Copperfield’s Books.

 

For the Mahrts, being a commercial egg producer is also a multi-generational endeavor. A family of immigrants, Steve’s great-uncle came to Petaluma in the 1920s, and then in turn sponsored his father in the 1950s. “When my dad worked on my great-uncle’s farm, it was at the end of the heyday of Petaluma being the ‘Egg Basket.’”

 

Growing up in the business, Steve says, “You could say that I was raised in a chicken barn.” When he graduated from college, he returned to the egg farm, eventually having the opportunity to buy a 35 acre ranch in 1986 in west Petaluma from a chicken farmer who was ready to retire. Judy’s family also worked in the poultry business, operating a hatchery in Calistoga dating back to the early 1900s.

 

The Mahrts pioneered producing cage-free eggs; their Rock Island brand were the first cage-free eggs to be in stores in 1983, and “we have been 100 percent cage-free all along,” Steve says.

 

In addition to packing his father’s eggs under Petaluma Farms label, the Mahrts produce several other brands of eggs including “Judy’s Family Farm,” the first organic eggs to be produced in California. The name was inspired by Judy’s desire to feed their four sons the most healthful food available.

 

Steve says “one little label, our Super Eggs,” is his favorite. The Mahrts started developing the brand in 1999 and after extensive testing, it reached the market two years later. “We feed a special diet to the chickens and that translates to more nutritious eggs.” Steve adds that these eggs were one of the first functional foods which provide slow-release nutrients and can promote optimal health.

 

Eggs from the Mahrts farms are available in most grocery stores in Northern California,” and at Skippy’s Egg Store at 951 Transport Way in Petaluma which sells flats of 30 eggs and by the dozen, as well as canned and paper goods, dairy products and kitchen staples. Skippy’s specializes in selling “checks,” eggs that have a slight crack but the membrane is still intact. They are sold at a lower price making them a real value for the home baker.

 

Skippy’s will also be the location of an egg museum, currently under construction and expected to open by the end of 2018. Steve says, “Judy has been collecting chicken and egg related memorabilia forever” and we are eager to have people to experience the farm through the museum’s educational displays.

 

After graduating from college and pursuing other careers, three of their four sons, ranging in age from 24 to 29, have returned to the farm. And Steve hopes that the youngest son will do the same after graduating from college next year.

 

Whether it’s families returning year-after-year for the “Cutest Little Chick Contest,” the Butter & Eggs Parade celebrating a 100th anniversary, or a family such as the Mahrts continuing a farming legacy started 100 years ago, it should be honored. As Steve says, “It’s what makes Petaluma, Petaluma.”

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Free Bus Rides All Weekend 4/28-29
by Petaluma Downtown on 

Petaluma Transit Free Rides...are being offered all weekend for the Butter & Egg Days.

Saturday, a special service will provide a safe ride every 15 minutes to very close to the parade route. Avoid the traffic congestion and parking challenges and take the bus.

You can also take the bus for free on Sunday so you don't miss the  over 200 fantastic vendors offering a unique shopping experience from 8am to 4pm.

All the details can be found
here on the Transit website. Or you can download this brochure with the bus schedule on it.

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Regular Fees Deadline for Parade Entries
by Petaluma Downtown on 

If you missed the early bird deadline, you still have time to get in to the parade paying only the regular fees -

FRIDAY, MARCH 16TH BY 8AM
So don't delay any longer! After Friday, it will be difficult to save a space and you will be paying a higher fee. What are you waiting for? It's simple to apply, just fill out an application online or download a hard copy, or come into our offices located at 210 Lakeville Street.
You don't have to have all the details of your entry, but you do have to pay the fee and let us know you want a space. Just do it.

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Entry Deadlines Approaching
by Petaluma Downtown on 

The Butter & Egg Days Parade, taking place on April 28 is accepting applications for entries with an early-bird deadline of March 9 at 8am. After that time, prices go up.

Also, the entry deadline for a booth at the Antique Faire, taking place on April 29, is March 12.
Get those entries in!

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PDA Welcomes New Energy
by Petaluma Downtown on 

The PDA welcomes new staff member Lissa Ferreira as the Administrative, Communications & Event Coordinator. With her 25+ years of experience in non-profit work and event planning, we are excited to have her on board.

Also, we are thrilled to welcome Tim Saavedra from Umpqua Bank to our Board. Tim has served on the boards of Sunrise Rotary, Rebuilding Together and Mentor Me and has volunteered for PDA for several years.
Welcome Lissa and Tim!

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