What’s Going on in North County This Spring
Craft Beer Month
It takes a lot of beer to make good wine, which is probably why the craft beer movement has exploded in Santa Ynez Valley. Our local wine country celebrates the virtues of beer for the entire month of May, when suds lovers can enjoy an impressive array of out-of-the-ordinary tastings, classes, dinners, demos and more. One of the highlights is the Buellton BrewFest. Featuring more than 50 breweries (and some wineries), life-sized beer pong, food trucks and three live bands, this fun festival is sure to sell out, so buy your tickets early. | Santa Ynez Valley Craft Beer Month, May 1–31, various locations, visitsyv.com/craft-beer-month. Buellton BrewFest, Riverview Park, 151 Sycamore Dr., Buellton, May 9, VIP 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; general admission, 12:30–4 p.m., buelltonbrewfest.com.
Tales From the Tavern
Come hunker down at Maverick Saloon, Santa Barbara County’s quintessential cowboy bar, for the tavern’s annual concert series. Dave Stamey, who True West Magazine named the “Best Living Western Solo Musician,” takes the stage on March 11. This cowboy, mule packer, dude wrangler has delighted audiences in 14 states and says that he prefers this to being stomped by angry horses. Jamaican-born reggae singer-songwriter Owen Plant and Brother Sun play on March 25; then musician, rancher, storyteller and Canadian icon Ian Tyson tells his tales in a special Thursday night performance on April 16. Wrapping up the spring season on April 29 is American musical legend Janis Ian, who began her professional life at 12 years old and is probably best known for hits like “Society’s Child,” “At Seventeen” and “Between the Lines.” Fun fact: Ian was the very first musical guest on the debut broadcast of Saturday Night Live on October 11, 1975. | Maverick Saloon, 3687 Sagunto St., Santa Ynez, 805/688-0383, talesfromthetavern.com.
One of the best ways to enjoy the valley is to go up, up and away in a hot air balloon with Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures. Flights capture beautiful views over the wine country surrounded by transverse mountain ranges, the Channel Islands, Lake Cachuma and the historic towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, Buellton, Santa Maria and Paso Robles. A variety of packages are available, including one that includes wine tasting at vineyards such as Bedford, Alma Rosa, Rusack, Brander, Carhartt, Bridlewood, Dierberg and Blair Fox. | Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures, Santa Ynez Valley Airport, 900 Airport Rd., Santa Ynez, 760/602-0295, santabarbaraballoonrides.com.
Margaret Atwood’s new stage adaptation of her wry, witty and wise novella The Penelopiad is a reimagining of the ancient story of the Trojan War, Helen of Troy and Odysseus, told from the point of view of Penelope (perhaps the first desperate housewife to appear in art). She fends off the attentions of greedy suitors, as traveling minstrels regale her with the news of Odysseus’s epic adventures around the Mediterranean, only to have him repay her devotion with heart-wrenching ruthlessness. This PCPA (Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts) production runs March 5–22. | Severson Theatre, Allan Hancock College Campus, 1100 S. Bradley, Santa Maria, 805/922-8313, pcpa.org.
There’s always something delicious going on in Solvang, but they really bring out all the stops at this annual event. Now in its 23rd year, Taste of Solvang offers a menu—from farm-to-table rustic Italian cuisine to new American and modern Danish fare, plus desserts in all forms, award-winning beers and world-class wines—that’s sure to please every palate. This year’s highlights include Farmers Market Chef Walks led by Chef Budi Kazali of The Ballard Inn & Restaurant, Chef David Cecchini of Cecco Ristorante and Chef James Owens of The Bistro at Hadsten House; Bubbles and Brunch at Wildling Museum; a Winemaker Dinner with Michael Larner of Larner Vineyard & Winery and Bacon & Brine’s Chef Pink; plus sips and sweets, the Solvang Wine and Beer Walk, the Grand Tasting with treats from more than 30 businesses and much, much more! | March 18–22, various locations throughout Solvang. 805/688-6144, solvangusa.com.
Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine, Spring 2015.