Talk of the Town Blog

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Are you ready for a Lumber-Jack Rowdy Good Time?

Posted on: July 24, 2015 at 6:02 pm by Sharon Davis No Comments

Paul Bunyan Days Logging ShowLabor Day in Fort Bragg means that Paul Bunyan Days are coming!  September 4th-7th will be filled with more than 20 family-friendly activities including the action-packed Logging Show where men and women loggers compete for over $7,000 in prize money!

Other fun activities include the Ugly Dog Contest, Fish Fry, Pie Sale, Labor Day Parade, Old Fashion Dress Review, Craft Show, Classic Car Show and so much more!  For the kids, there will be a Tricycle Race, Kiddie Parade and Kiddie Games.  There is something for everyone during Paul Bunyan Days!

Paul Bunyan himself will be hosting all of the exciting events.  Pose for a picture with Paul or just say hello.Paul Bunyan Days

The theme this year is “Happy Trails with Paul and Babe” to celebrate completion of the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail and the public’s access along the City’s coast for the first time in over a century.  See the Paul Bunyan Days website for more information on the festivities!

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Celebrate a Hometown Independence Day in Fort Bragg

Posted on: June 20, 2015 at 9:12 am by Julia Conway
Salmon BBQ

World’s Largest Salmon BBQ in Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor

Don’t wait to make your plans to celebrate Independence Day 2015 in Fort Bragg!  Due to the popularity of the weekend’s events, available rooms, rental homes and campsites fill up quickly.  Don’t miss out on all the fun activities here on the beautiful Mendocino Coast at the height of our summer season.  In addition to the parade down in Mendocino, the entire family can enjoy a host of other activities right here in Fort Bragg.

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Mountain biking in the woods of Fort Bragg

Posted on: June 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm by Julia Conway
Wild Wood Enduro

Wild Wood Enduro

Did you know Fort Bragg is a hot spot for off-road cyclists?  The myriad of old logging roads and trails that dissect the old timber parcels in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest are perfect for the sport.  Check out our pages on cycling in Fort Bragg and on the Mendocino Coast for more details and trail information.

Coming up in the middle of June, the California Enduro Series will make a stop in Fort Bragg for the Wild Wood Enduro.

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The Tenth Anniversary of the Mendocino Film Festival comes to Fort Bragg

Posted on: May 28, 2015 at 10:34 am by Julia Conway
Will Durst in "3 Still Standing"

Will Durst in “3 Still Standing”


Ten years ago, a group of visionary film lovers founded the festival, and it has grown to include venues in Willits, the Anderson Valley, Point Arena and our own Coast Cinemas in Fort Bragg.

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It’s a Whale of a Project!

Posted on: April 9, 2015 at 1:38 pm by Julia Conway
Discovery Center

Noyo Center Community Learning Center rendering

In conjunction with Phase II of the Coastal Trail construction, plans are starting to move forward for the permanent home of the Noyo Center for Marine Science at the south end of the Georgia Pacific mill site.  The map linked here provides the site plan for both the recently constructed and opened Phase I at the north end of the property, and the areas currently under construction in Phase II.

The planned campus will include a 5600 square foot Community Learning Center, The Whale House, which will be the new home of the Blue Whale skeleton, currently under restoration, and a proposed marine science research facility.

The Discovery Center is envisioned as the main public exhibit space accommodating up to an estimated 150,000 visitors per year. The main features will include:

  • Aquaria, interactive exhibits, and touch pools
  • Interpretation of sustainable design features
  • Discovery Cafe
  • Auditorium and small outdoor amphitheater
  • Gift Shop
  • Interactive courtyard and restored gardens
  • Living Roof

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Spring Fling in Fort Bragg!

Posted on: March 23, 2015 at 10:26 am by Julia Conway
Photo courtesy of the Botanical Gardens.

Photo courtesy of the Botanical Gardens.


Nothing heralds spring on the Mendocino Coast like the annual migration of the gray whales, the arrival of the baby seals and sea lions, and the bright flashes of riotous color of the blooming rhododendrons.  Rivaling the brilliant oranges, golds, purples and red of our sunsets, these perennial shrubs beg you to stop and appreciate their beauty!  In celebration of the height of the bloom, two free events will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 2nd and 3rd.

Co-sponsored by the American Rhododendron Society Noyo Chapter and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, the annual Rhododendron Show and Sale will take place on both Saturday the 2nd and Sunday the 3rd from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.  The juried show is expected to be the largest in California, if not the entire Pacific coast.  The big white tent houses hundreds of colorful blooms for viewing, as well as bonsai, photographs and floral arrangements.  Don’t miss the raffle for gifts and the silent auction, and plan to tour the gardens with your $1 admissions discount.  People’s choice awards and educational displays will complement the show.  For details and entry information, visit

Don’t miss the second annual Rhododendron Walk on Saturday the 2nd, from 11:00AM through 4:00PM.  The event features a passport drawing for prizes, strolling musicians and refreshments at Town Hall on the corner of Laurel and Main.  To attend, pick up a passport at any participating merchant and start exploring the fascinating shops, galleries and boutiques.  Have your passport stamped by at least ten of the over thirty merchants and become eligible for a random drawing for fabulous prizes (no purchase necessary).  Be sure to return your passports to any participating merchant by 3:30PM or to Town Hall prior to the 4:00PM drawing.  Download and print your passport for a list of participating merchants here.

While Gardens admission is not required to view the show, the Gardens are offering a $1 discount admissions coupon for show attendees and Rhododendron Walk passport holders.  The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, listed by Sunset Magazine as second on their list of top western public gardens, has one of the nation’s largest collections of rhododendrons—more than 1000 at last count, with many hybridized here on the Mendocino Coast—and they promise to fill the formal gardens and woodlands with riotous color.  Rhody’s Café at the Gardens will be open both days, serving snacks, lunch, and ice cream.  Leashed pets are welcome in the gardens, so bring the entire family.  For more information, visit

A wide variety of rhododendron plants may be purchased at the show.  Local growers and Noyo Chapter members will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the best plants for your garden.

All rhodie growers are welcome to enter their best trusses for judging. Those wishing to participate should bring their entries to the Botanical Gardens on Thursday, May 1st, between 5:00PM and 7:00 PM, or on Friday, May 2nd, between 9:00AM and 1:00 PM.  Chapter members will be available to assist in filling out entry forms.  Judging will take place Friday afternoon, beginning at 3:00PM.  Judges will award ribbons and trophies to top entries in a wide range of categories.  For further details, please visit: or call (707) 962-0565.

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MacKerricher’s New Babies

Posted on: March 14, 2015 at 9:43 am by Julia Conway
Baby seal

Baby Harbor seal, photo courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott


Spring brings many signs of the season to Fort Bragg and the Mendocino coast, but none tickles our hearts more than the arrival of a new generation of baby Harbor seals and sea lions to the rocks of the California Coastal Monument offshore at MacKerricher State Park.  Locals and visitors alike flock to the Haul Road trail north of Lake Cleone to view and photograph what have been called the “puppies of the sea.”


Baby seal swimming

Swimming baby Harbor seal, photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott


The adorable expressions on the faces of these young marine mammals entrances local photographer Jennifer Hendershott, who has shared these fabulous images on our Facebook page.  Whether swimming with their mothers in the shallow waters surrounding the rocks, or sunning themselves in groups, the similarities with human children are unmistakable and enchanting.


Baby seals sunning

Baby Harbor seals sunning, photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hendrshott


The Marine Mammal Center‘s biologists warn visitors to observe and photograph from a distance.  All of these photos were captured with a distance lens.  As with any species, the mothers are extremely protective of the babies, and are capable of inflicting bites and other injuries on unsuspecting and well-meaning observers.  If you come across a stranded or lone baby that appears to be in distress, contact the Park Rangers or call either the Marine Mammal Center’s hotline at 415-289-SEAL or NOAA’s hotline at 866-755-6622.


Mother and baby seal

Mother and baby Harbor seal, photograph courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott

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All that Jazz in Fort Bragg

Posted on: March 3, 2015 at 7:27 pm by Julia Conway
TS Monk Sextet

TS Monk Sextet


Have you heard of the Brother Thelonious  Belgian Style Abbey Ale, produced by our own North Coast Brewing Company?  North Coast Brewing Company is proud to partner with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in support of Jazz education. The Brewery makes a donation to the Institute for every bottle of Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale sold.  If that were not enough, here’s the kicker….To celebrate the Grand Opening of the recently refurbished Sequoia Room at the North Coast Brewery Pub, we welcome the TS Monk Sextet, led by the son of the jazz legend.  Two shows per night are available, a dinner show at 6:00P and a late show at 8:30P, Friday March 6th and Saturday, March 7th.  Book your tickets online now at Brown Paper Tickets or call 707-964-3400.  Food and beverages minimums will apply for these special shows.

Even if you can’t make this memorable show, be sure to check out the calendar of upcoming events in this intimate and stylish venue.  You can also keep up with jazz in Fort Bragg by checking out Doug Moody’s new show on Sunday nights at 7:00P on KOZT-The Coast.  Yes, we know that the Mendocino coast is famous for rock-n-roll, but enjoy jazz in Fort Bragg, courtesy of North Coast Brewing Company!


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A whale of a good time in Fort Bragg!

Posted on: February 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm by Julia Conway
whale tail

Gray whale, photo courtesy of Jennifer Hendershott


The annual migration of the California Gray Whale is here, and so is the annual Fort Bragg Whale Festival.  The third in a series of weekends dedicated to these amazing marine mammals, the two days are jam-packed with fun and activities.

Whale Run and Walk; Saturday, March 21 at 8:00A on the MacKerricher Haul Road, 10K and 5K run, 5K competitive walk, 5K fun walk and half-mile kids race starting at 7:30A.  More details and entry information HERE.

Chowder Tasting; Saturday, March 21 11:00A – 1:00P at Town Hall, your favorite local restaurants compete for the title of People’s Choice, come early to make sure you taste all the entries before they run out!  $10 admission, North Coast Brewing Company will be there serving up tasty beverages.

Microbrew Beer Tasting; Saturday, March 21, 12:00N – 4:00P at the Eagles Hall.  21 and over only please, $30 admission.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse; Saturday and Sunday, docent-led whale watching tours (weather permitting), lens tours and walks to nearby Frolic Cove with the story of the clipper brig Frolic, wrecked in July of 1850.

MacKerricher State Park; Family-friendly scavenger hunt, paint the whale skeleton, slide show (March 20th), docent-led whale  and wildlife walks/talks.  Harbor seals, sea lions and elephant seals are also calving and visible on the offshore rocks.

Book a whale watching tour from Noyo Harbor.  Check out the details HERE.

Take a Whale Walk on the new Coastal Trail; Sunday March 22 10:00A – 11:00A, $12 and kids under ten free when accompanied by an adult, includes tour and a special whale-themed souvenir, call the Chamber for tickets and info 707-961-6300.

Watch the whales from the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, open daily.

Don’t miss the fun!  Book your room today!

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Guest Article*; the story of Fort Bragg’s Blue Whale

Posted on: February 16, 2015 at 8:36 am by Julia Conway

Articulating the Noyo vision, bone by bone

In 2009, a lethal strike from a ship’s propeller off the Mendocino coast tragically killed a 73-foot female blue whale. This ship-strike, a leading threat to these magnificent mammals, has been turned into a story of Fort Bragg’s community coming together around the vision of the Noyo Marine Science Center.

At Noyo, we believe that the desire to learn about and protect our marine environment will only come with a powerful emotional connection to the amazing underwater world.

Our dream is to turn our blue whale bones into a world-class exhibit that will represent the Noyo vision to:

  • Create a space in which scientists, artists and the public (of all ages) can work together, learn from each other and create multi-disciplinary opportunities
  • Captivate and draw young minds toward a deeper level of inquiry and connection with the marine world
  • Inspire our local population and attract visitors to the Mendocino coast


Blue whale skeleton

Artist’s rendering of the articulated skeleton


The story of “our” whale:


When the devastating news that a 73-ft long female blue whale had suffered a lethal injury from a ship’s propeller off our coast in 2009 became public, the community of Fort Bragg came together.  Seeing this beautiful whale washed up on shore was so moving that members of our community voiced an idea to salvage the skeleton for Fort Bragg, regardless of the fact that there would be no agency or university leading the effort.  Working with NOAA, the City was able to obtain rights to acquire the skeleton for eventual public display.  More than 200 people walked away from their normal lives to participate in an unprecedented community effort to haul 70-tons of bones and blubber up a 40-foot cliff and bury the whale in compost out in the forest.  It was a monumental task.

Students from all over got a once-in-a-lifetime blue whale-sized anatomy lesson during the flensing process as we worked with national experts to provide as many samples for research as possible.

After four years of sitting in compost and sand in large pits in the forest, our amazing volunteers once again came together with the City of Fort Bragg to carefully dig out each bone.  Thankfully, microbes and insects had done a good job, and most of the flesh was gone.  Some bones, like the caudal vertebrae near the tail, were still encased in very strong connective tissue and had to be put back in compost to finish the job.  The bones were trucked to the wastewater treatment plant in Fort Bragg where we have been cleaning and scrubbing them (what a great place for this dirty job!)

The skeleton is now in storage awaiting funding to begin the next stage of the restoration process: degreasing to remove the (extremely smelly!) internal oils.

Cleaning – We have already come a long way in preparing our blue whale skeleton for display.  Members of our community who helped to collect the skeleton flensed away about 70 tons of flesh to extract the bones.  We have since relied on composting, insects and soil microorganisms to remove the remaining soft tissues and we’re ready to move on to the next stage.

Degreasing – Whale bones are composed of both compact and cancellous hard tissues.  Compact bone is found in the outer regions of bones and in the load-bearing regions of the skeleton.  It is solid and dense.  Cancellous bone, on the other hand, is sponge-like.  It is less rigid and is filled with oil that serves as a nutrient reserve and aids in buoyancy in living whales.  Did you know that this oil can comprise up to 40-50% of the weight of a blue whale skeleton??!

Left alone, the oil quickly becomes rancid and unbelievably stinky in saturated whale bones.  Understandably, for a public display, 100% of this stinky oil must be removed.  Extracting the oil without damaging the hard bony tissues is by far the biggest challenge in the job of preparing a whale skeleton for display and this step will take several months to complete carefully.  We are currently working with a team of experienced scientists to plan our degreasing strategy and we are working hard to raise funds to get this step underway.

Restoration – Since our whale encountered a ship’s propeller, several vertebrae and parts of the skull have been damaged.  We want the public to know the story of our whale’s death so we plan to do minimal repair to these areas.  However, more trauma to the skeleton occurred when the carcass was washed up on the beach since whale skeletons are not built for bearing their own weight on land. We plan to restore these broken bones to their original condition.

There are many great artistic products that are available to articulators and museum conservators to do this kind of restoration.  This stage is very fun and will involve learning blue whale anatomy in great detail and calling on a talented team of artists to repair, sculpt and paint the broken areas to restore the skeleton.  Next, we’ll be ready to put our bones back together.

Articulation  – The world of a whale remains mysterious to most of us since the vast amount of its time is spent below the surface of the ocean.  Most historic articulations of large whales portray, well, the dead whale that was found on land.  The recent advancement of underwater remote sensing technology has shed much light on the amazingly dynamic lives that whales actually lead under water and off-shore.  This has allowed the science of whale skeleton articulation to progress beyond an anatomical exercise into an exciting discipline that fuses science and art.

Using top-quality artistic materials and cutting edge articulation techniques, we plan to design a dynamic, scientifically accurate and elegant display that will breathe life.  The exhibit will allow people of all ages to intimately experience the life and ecology of a whale up close.  Visitors will connect with the vastness of the marine environment of the Mendocino coast and beyond, and continue toward a deeper learning experience at the Noyo Center.

We are thrilled to have Cetacea Contracting, renowned in modern skeleton articulation techniques, on our team to help lead us through the skeleton building process. Check out their website to see some more examples of dynamic skeleton articulations and see the image below for an idea of the possibilities available for our blue whale skeleton exhibit.

If you would like to learn more about this exciting project or see how you can get involved, please contact us or donate today!

* Content courtesy of the Noyo Center for Marine Science

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