2006 Mendocino Coast Whale Festivals Set for March 4 & 5 in Mendocino, March 18 & 19 in Fort Bragg

Whale Watching Planned by Air, Horseback, Sea and Foot

MENDOCINO COAST, Calif., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ — Gray whales, comedy, food, wine and microbrew tastings, a marine art exhibit, a crafts fair, plein air painting demonstrations, a whale run/walk, a classic car show, concerts, and whale watching by horseback, sea, air and foot are just a few of the highlights of the 24th Annual Mendocino Coast Whale Festival. Major festival events are concentrated over two March weekends: 4th and 5th in Mendocino and 18th and 19th in Fort Bragg. Details available for all events at www.mendocinocoast.com from the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce at 707-964-6300.

The Whales

The 2006 celebration is all about the migration of the Eastern Pacific Gray Whale with their newborn calves from the protected lagoons of western Baja to their ancestral feeding grounds in the cold waters of the Bering Sea. The migrating whales, numbering 18,000 – 23,000 individuals, pass by the Mendocino Coast twice each year: once going south between the months of November and February, and again going north between the months of February and June. Since they don’t migrate simultaneously, not all the whales make it all the way to Baja. Some linger off shore and observations suggest that these are primarily the younger males. Newly pregnant females lead the northward migration, followed by males. The last to leave Baja are usually females with babies.

Mendocino Festival (March 4 & 5)

On Saturday, March 4, the Village of Mendocino kicks off the 2006 celebration with docent-led whale watching walks from the Ford House Visitor Center on Main Street. Wine tasting provided by 15 Mendocino County wineries, chowder tasting by top local chefs and a marine wildlife exhibit. On Sunday, March 5, Mendocino will host A Taste of Mendocino County, offering the area’s best specialty food and coffee (Thanksgiving is the official festival coffee). Tickets are $25 per person, which covers food and wine tastings on Saturday and Sunday and includes a 2006 Whale Festival wine glass. Air, sea, and horseback whale watching tours offered.

Fort Bragg Festival (March 18 & 19)

New this year in Fort Bragg will be Whales on Parade, nearly 50 wooden whales decorated by some of the Coast’s top artists. They will be displayed on Main Street downtown. Nearly 20 regional microbreweries will offer their best pilsners, stouts and ales for tasting at historic Eagle’s Hall along with barbecue, including oysters and sausages. Other events include the Whale Run, a 5K and 10K walk and run along the ocean (www.theschedule.com), a classic car show, an arts & crafts fair, chowder tasting, art exhibits and guided whale walks and watching at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, MacKerricher State Park, and Point Cabrillo Light Station State Park & Nature Preserve. Air, sea, and horseback whale watching tours offered.

Point Cabrillo Light Station State Park and Nature Preserve
(March 4, 5, 18 & 19)

This 300-acre California State Park with a restored, working lighthouse, has planned a series of docent walks, activities for children, history tours and docent-led whale watching 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. March 4, 5, 18 & 19. Tours of the new Lighthouse Inn at Point Cabrillo will be available. The Lighthouse Inn is located in the original head lightkeepers residence built in 1909.

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