The Stumptown Parade in Guerneville, California

by June Farquhar
Many who visit during the Stumptown Daze Parade camp out nearby.

Many who visit during the Stumptown Daze Parade camp out nearby.

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Each June, Guerneville, a tourist town on the Russian River in Northern California, hosts its Stumptown Daze Parade. The money raised during the event goes toward funding the town's annual Fourth of July fireworks display. The parade down Main Street is followed by a plethora of community events for the entire family.

History of Guerneville and the Stumptown Parade

The parade is called Stumptown because this is what Guerneville, which was filled with stumps, was called in the mid-1800s. The stumps were huge. One famous photo (from 1886) shows 18 men standing shoulder-to-shoulder on one stump. In 1865, George Guerne bought a sawmill, and in 1870, the town was named Guerneville after him. The Guerneville celebration was a three-day event in the mid-1940s. Throughout its history, the Stumptown revelry has altered, and every year is a little different. In recognition of the rough early days, people at the Stumptown Daze celebration can pay to have someone locked up in the "hoosegow."

Parade Entrants

Individuals, organizations and school groups build floats or organize marches for the parade. Every year there is a new theme that people keep in mind while they're building their float or planning their entry. The theme in 2011 was "Back in the Saddle, Again." The parade had dozens of entrants, including several floats, restored trucks and cars, vintage vehicles and fire trucks. Marching bands entered the parade from the schools, the military and clubs. There was a horse-and-animal division that included mounted marchers. For amusement, there were pooper-scooper entries. The sheriff's posse also had an entry. Western wear was a common theme, but there were also Indian, Spanish and Arabian costumes.

Parade Day Barbecue

The Russian River firefighters, who also provided the hoosegow to lock up revelers for a price, provide a barbecue following the parade. The Russian River Fire Protection District barbecue is held in the Lark Drugs parking lot on Main Street. At the 65th annual Stumptown Daze in 2011, the fire crew served ribs, and there was no charge for the food or the music. Mock gunfights are held throughout the celebration in remembrance of the town's rough Western days.

Other Parade Day Attractions

Parade Day attractions continue after dark; many parade watchers take advantage of the many lodging options -- hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, campgrounds and RV facilities -- in and around Guerneville. Some of the activities include an evening concert at the River Theater. The town also has things for tourists to see while they're waiting for their favorite activity to start, such as the historic bridge that crosses the Russian River. Guerneville is only minutes away from several wineries, but the Stumptown Brewery has a pub on River Road, and wine and champagne tasting are available at Korbel Cellars.

About the Author

June Farquhar has been writing for newspapers and special publications in California since 1998. She's the recipient of a press club award for organizing and designing a 42-page "Red Ribbon Week" tabloid, which received recognition from the California State Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. Farquhar studied newspaper journalism at Bakersfield College.

Photo Credits

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