Mermaidfest 2011: salty but sweet
Water lovers everywhere are invited to the 2011 Mermaidfest, which will focus on ecology, education and the support of local marine life.
The only mermaid licensed and registered by the State of California, Vira Burgerman has become a local celebrity through her numerous appearances — scales, tail and all — at ecological festivals and events where marine life is celebrated and revered.
Created in 1998 as The California Mermaid, Burgerman used the positive attention she’s received to raise public awareness regarding the difficulties encountered by small independent fishermen on the Northern California coast who were struggling to survive while maintaining a vanishing way of life.
Having worked on boats herself and actually being a mermaid, she easily befriended local fishermen, marine biologists, ecologists, as well as untold numbers of sea creatures whose lives she so positively influenced.
The Mermaidfest’s mission focuses on creating communal synergy, and educating and broadening the public’s awareness about commercial fisheries, as well as respecting and celebrating marine life and its vital habitat on Earth.
Burgerman has also played a role in 26 years of Fisherman’s Festivals in Bodega Bay by taking part in the blessing of the fleet.
Educational river restoration, commercial fishing and ocean awareness displays and exhibits (some of which were put together by the 5th grade class at The Monte Rio School) will be part of the festival.
The Mermaidfest features Sonoma County-based craft vendors, locally caught and prepared seafood, and a variety of entertainment, including the Julie Faye dance troupe, the Jug Dealers, the Matt Silva Project and Yerevan the Mermaid belly dancer.
The family-oriented fest will also feature a jumphouse, games and face painting, and will have “Rockin’ Nannies” on hand to oversee the younger set.
The festival’s new location is the Rio Nido Roadhouse. Vira and other mermaids will perform in the nearby pool, and Thom Shouse, “The Tailman,” will be a special guest.
Realizing the best way to ensure the continued ecologically maintained coastal environment begins at its source, the rivers of Northern California, Vira now has ventured upstream and is amazed at the diversity of wildlife that depends on this vital habitat. Healthy creek watersheds equate to a healthy ocean. This is why the California Mermaid has made her home along the banks of the Russian River.
Burgerman says, “Healthy creek watersheds equate to a healthy ocean.”
The festival will be held at the Rio Nido Roadhouse on Sunday, Oct. 30, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and the suggested donation is $5 — except for those under 12, who are admitted free.