Celebration of Nature Comes to Vallejo

The U.S. Forest Service and its local partners will bring people closer to nature at the fifth annual Visions of the Wild film and arts festival taking place in Vallejo from September 20 to 23.

The fifth annual Visions of the Wild festival returns to Vallejo from September 20 to 23. Photo by Dave Reider


Published: September, 2018


The U.S. Forest Service and its local partners will bring people closer to nature at the fifth annual Visions of the Wild film and arts festival taking place in Vallejo from September 20 to 23. The event celebrates the natural beauty of rivers and trails through art, music, science and outdoor experiences.


The theme for the 2018 festival is “Wild & Scenic,” in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails Act. In fact, the festival will take place less than 10 days before the actual anniversary, as these landmark bills were passed by Congress on October 2, 1968.  


The festival offers a wide variety of events at both indoor and outdoor venues throughout the weekend, kicking off on Thursday, September 20 with a reception at the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum. Author and filmmaker John de Graaf will speak about the “And Beauty for All” campaign. (The City of Vallejo is an early adopter of this national program.)


Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan will also speak at the kickoff event, and will help present awards during this festive evening of food, drink and music. The evening will also feature the opening of a new art exhibit called RiverBorne featuring the photography of Ian Ruhter and paintings by several local artists.


On Friday, the public is invited to join the Ridge Trail Council on the Ridge Trail Hike. This outing provides an opportunity to hike through Solano Land Trust’s Vallejo-Swett property, which connects to the Ridge Trail via the Hiddenbrooke Trail. This six-mile hike is only open via docent access.


On Friday evening, the Empress Theatre will host the on-tour Wild & Scenic Film Festival. The two-hour program of short films will explore rivers and trails in the United States and around the world.


Two new art exhibits also premiere on Friday during the second Friday art walk in downtown Vallejo. They will remain on display several weeks after the festival ends. First, Temple Art Lofts Gallery will host a show called On Beauty, which features photographs and text that celebrates the life and work of conservationist Doug Tompkins.


Second, the photography of Ian Ruhter will be exhibited at the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum. Ruhter makes large-scale images using a truck that he has converted into a large camera. He also taught pinhole photography techniques to students at the Vallejo Summer Arts Camp. Those works, as well as others from the museum collection, will be on display.


Several river cruises are available on Saturday and Sunday that explore the Napa River and Carquinez Strait. Due to high demand, the number of rivers cruises has doubled from two to four. Passengers on the morning cruises learn about our local waterways while onboard the River Dolphin. On Saturday, Vallejo’s own Myrna Hayes offers her deep knowledge of the natural and human history of the Napa River. On Sunday, Dr. Katherine Sammler, a professor at Cal Maritime, provides an overview of the Carquinez Strait including the social and political factors that affect the world-famous San Francisco Bay estuary.  


Seats are limited and the $50 tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. Because the river cruises are among the most popular festival events, purchasing tickets well in advance is strongly suggested as they tend to sell out early.


Wild & Scenic is also the theme of the second annual Chalk Art Festival Vallejo, which takes place the same weekend. The chalk artists will be creating their work on Georgia Street from Friday through Sunday.


On Saturday, the Nature Discovery Zone is back during the Vallejo Farmers Market. It will feature a wide array of people and organizations that help conserve forests, rivers and animals. This year the event will feature outdoor recreation on our local and statewide rivers and trails.


On Sunday afternoon, the Empress Theatre features a concert of modern classical music inspired by rivers and trails. The festival is collaborating with the Landscape Composers Network to present this selection of new compositions, including several world premieres.


More details about the Visions of the Wild event and how to purchase tickets for the river cruises are available on the festival website at visionsofthewild.org. Except for the river cruises, all of the activities are free and open to everyone.