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Farm to Fork Legends of Wine is September 18th, 6:00-8:30pm

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I can say in all honesty that out of the whole year, I love the months of September and October most. There are several  reasons for that. One of them is the weather. It starts to cool off just enough and the mornings are perfect for running. Another reason is that it is harvest time–more importantly to me, crush time in the vineyards. It’s also getting to be around the time I met Andy, and I am very excited to celebrate our 3rd anniversary this year.

September is also California Wine Month and the month Sacramento celebrates Farm-t0-Fork week from September 13th-28th, featuring several events to  celebrate the local sustainability and food production of the Sacramento region by featuring the farmers, chefs and culinary community that make the Sacramento region the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America.

One of the not-to-be-missed events is Farm-to-Fork Legends of Wine featuring wines selected by Darrell Corti and David Berkley. It takes place on Thursday, September 18th 6pm – 8:30pm on the State Capitol West Steps.

Darrell Corti, who was recognized by Saveur magazine as the man “Who knows more about food and wine than anyone else in the world,” and David Berkley, once recognized as “the man behind the White House wine list,” will host an evening of great wines and cheeses during Sacramento inaugural Farm-to-Fork Week.

Paired along-side artisan cheeses and breads, this event will offer free tastes from some of the region’s most celebrated wineries listed below:
Andis Wines
Legendre Cellars
Sierra Starr Vineyard & Winery
Boeger Winery
Matchbook Wines
Six Hands Winery
Bogle Vineyards
Michael David Winery
Sobon Family Wines
Bokisch Vineyard
Miraflores Winery
Spoto Wines
Casey Flat Ranch Winery
New Clairvaux Vineyards
Terra d’Oro Winery
Dancing Coyote Wines
Putah Creek Winery
Terre Rouge & Easton Wines
David Girard Vineyard
Rendez-Vous Winery
Uvaggio Wines
Feist Winery
Revolution Wines
VanRuiten
Family Winery
Jeff Runquist Wines
Scott Harvey Wines
Vino Noceto Winery
LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards
Seka Hills Wines

To purchase tickets ($50 per person) head over to the Farm-to-Fork website and the Legends of Wine event page (click here).

You can keep up with all the events during the Farm-to-Fork celebration by liking their Facebook page here and follow SacFarm2Fork on twitter here. If wine and fancy dinners aren’t your speed, there is a free festival on September 27th featuring food demos and fun for the whole family!


The Third Annual Sacramento Food Film Festival is March 20-30

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Happy Saturday! I’m just passing along this press release to all of you… looks great and the California Food Literacy Center is this year’s beneficiary!
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SACRAMENTO – As food and wine pairings continue to rise in popularity, the farm-to-fork capital is offering a different kind of pairing: food and film. The 3rd Annual Sacramento Food Film Festival will take place March 20-30 and will include food, wine and beer pairings with seven films about food. Festival proceeds will benefit California Food Literacy Center, a Sacramento nonprofit providing food literacy education to local low-income children.

“This is a chance for guests to soak up the amazing food and drinks that Sacramento has to offer while also feeding their minds,” said Catherine Enfield, festival founder and food writer.

Movies and Venues:
Ten 22, March 20
The festival’s red carpet premier at Ten22 on March 20 features appetizers, drinks and screening of the award-winning movie, “Spinning Plates.” Cost is $40.

Sterling Hotel, March 22
On March 22, the festival continues at the Sterling Hotel, featuring a sneak preview of the highly anticipated, new Ruhstaller Nugget hop beer, bites from Adam Pechal and screening of “Beer Wars.” Cost is $30.

Lucca, March 25
“Bottle Shock” will be screened at Lucca on March 25 and will include a four-course dinner based on the film. Cost is $40, and $50 if including a wine pairing.

The Guild Theater, March 26
On March 26 the “Cafeteria Man” will be shown at The Guild Theater and will include appetizers, an appearance from the film’s star, Tony Geraci and a panel discussion with local leaders in food literacy education.

Clunie Center at McKinley Park, March 28
Selland’s will offer a family spaghetti dinner on March 28 and screening of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” at McKinley Park’s Clunie Center. Cost is $15 for children, $25 for adults.

The Guild Theater, March 29
The Guild Theater will screen “The Slow Food Story” for free on March 29.

Sunh Fish, March 30
The festival wraps up on March 30 with a sushi and uni tasting by Billy Ngo from Kru, and Q & A with the film’s producer, Alexander Finden, at Sunh Fish and screening of “Sweet, Sexy Ocean.” Cost is $35.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.sacfoodfilmfest.com.

“We are proud to be the beneficiary of such a creative event that not only gives people the opportunity to enjoy the amazing food of the Sacramento region, but also helps spread food literacy through the creative medium of film,” said Amber Stott, founding executive director, California Food Literacy. “We look forward to good food and good conversations.”

California Food Literacy Center was established in July 2011 to educate and inspire low-income children to eat healthy food. Students learn fruit and vegetable appreciation, how to read nutrition labels, basic cooking skills and environmental impacts of their food choices. The nonprofit also runs the Food Literacy Academy, which trains community members as food literacy teachers. To date, the nonprofit has 60 active volunteers and serves 2,400 kids annually. After just three months of food literacy education, 70 percent of students request the foods they have tasted in class, including broccoli, celery and oranges. Ninety-two percent of K-1st grade students say healthy food tastes good, and 88 percent of children understand how to read a nutrition label. To make a donation: www.californiafoodliteracy.org.


Dawson’s at the Hyatt Regency’s Monthly Wine Dinner Featuring Goldschmidt Vineyards

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Lately, I have been very selective in the events I attend and the restaurants, products, services, et cetera I choose to promote, but last week when I was invited to attend the monthly wine dinner held at Dawson’s at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento, I jumped at the opportunity.

For a while now, Dawson’s has been one of the most underrated restaurants in town. Andy and I had attended a few of the Dawson’s wine dinners last year and found them to be quite economical (despite a $79 per person price which might seem like a lot of money to spend on a Thursday night). The value is to be found in the quality and amount of the food (4 courses with wine pairings), the wine featured (always a higher-end label) and the service (look for Ardy and tip him well–he’s terrific). Dawson’s even offers free valet parking to wine dinner guests upon arrival. I am not sure you can get a better deal anywhere else.

Before dinner, we were treated to a charcuterie, cheese, fruit, and sparkling wine reception. Andy and I were then introduced to the chef (Jason Poole) and the wine representative (LT Nedjar) Mr. Nedjar was there representing the label featured that night: Goldschmidt Vineyards. Follwing our introduction, both gentlemen returned to going over the menu and the wines one last time to make sure the experience would be seamless for the dinner guests.

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Upon seating, we were presented with the menu. Typically, the menu and the pairings get published online and via an email blast before the dinner. I love the email blasts because I can sit at my desk at work and daydream about what I am going to eat that evening! ;) Below is the menu from Thursday night’s dinner:

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Just before our seating, the sous chef  Michael Grande walked us through the menu. Both times I have seen Chef Grande, he has been so enthusiastic about the wine dinner’s course line-up and his excitement is contagious. :) Soon, we were invited into the dining room for the meal to begin.

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The first course of the evening was a Hamachi Crudo with baby coconut, Rising C Ranch Melogold Grapefruit, Blood Orange and Avocado Oil, Yuzu Emulsion, and it was paired with the Boulder Bank (a label owned by Goldschmidt) Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2011. The acidity and fats in the dish balanced very well with the Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand-style, high acidity, though not a complete grapefruit bomb. I was actually reminded more of canned peaches, as the wine was a touch sweet.) Still, it was a perfect compliment to the hamachi and the fruit essences in the dish.

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The second course was a Coke Farms Baby Beet Caprese Salad with house-made mozzarella (yes!!), an herb salad, morel ash, and finished with double Solera Vinegar. It was paired with the Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot, Dry Creek Valley 2011. We were told that the grapes that go into this particular merlot are literally on the front of the property at the winemaker’s residence, so they get extra attention. My only complaint about this course was that I wish I had been served a little more of it. :) The cheese had the wonderful elasticity that fresh mozzarella has, with just a hint of salt. The beets were earthy and al dente. The merlot was a delightful pairing for this course.

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And then the third course happened. And I was officially wowed. It was a Cranberry Bean Cassoulet with a Confit Duck (leg), house-made boudin blanc, Tails and Trotters Pork Belly, and County Line Farms Baby Mustards. It was paired with two different wines to highlight the different proteins and flavor profiles in the bowl. The first wine was the Forefathers Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley 2009, and the second wine was the Hillary Goldschmidt Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville 2011. The last time I had duck as part of an entrée was back in the fall at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. It was a grilled breast and braised leg served with roasted wine grapes. As memorable as the main course was at Chez Panisse, I will say without hesitation that the cassoulet at Dawson’s was the better dish. I am still thinking about the slice of crispy pork belly that topped the cassoulet at Dawson’s. For me, it was the best bite of food of the night, and I will be daydreaming about the cassoulet for a long time to come! I could have used an extra slice of that salty, rich pork belly instead of the sausage that was nestled underneath the duck. I am not sure how the dish was intended to eat, but I enjoyed its components one at a time. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but everything tasted oh so right! ;)

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Ultimately, to me, the food was more remarkable than the wine (sorry, Goldschmidt!), but there are some really great things going on in the kitchen at Dawson’s. However, the wine made a terrific impression with Andy, as he purchased a case of Cabernet that evening before we left.

But before our exit, we were served coffee and one last course, the dessert. Usually, there is a dessert wine presented at the Dawson’s wine dinner, but this time it was suggested we save a little of the Forefathers Cabernet to pair with our dessert. The dessert was a Dark Fruit Consommé (interesting concept there!) with a Crispy Hazelnut Cake, Dark Chocolate Pave, and Toasted Fennel Oil.

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I loved the texture of the cake–it was spongey and soaked up the fruit consommé’s vibrant flavor. The chocolate on top served as a ganache-type frosting. It was a well-executed part of the meal and a memorable finish.

About the winemaker: Nick Goldschmidt, originally from New Zealand, gained international notoriety as winemaker at Simi Winery. Since 2007 he has been a consulting winemaker for several premium brands around the world, and is very well known for his single vineyard, handcrafted, small production artisanal wines that consistently score in the 90s in most wine publications. In fact, all his wines are 100% single variety, 100% single vintage, 100% single vineyard. You can find more information on their website here, or find them on Facebook here.

Dawson’s wine dinners are held every third Thursday of the month and have featured labels such as Alpha Omega, Far Niente/Nickel & Nickel, Jordan Vineyard & Winery, Hall Vineyards, Palmaz Vineyards, and Rodney Strong.

Tip: Check into Dawson’s using your smartphone and receive special perks for being a loyal customer. A free glass of select draft beer using Foursquare or a free glass of select wines using Yelp!

Dawson’s is now one of only two Sacramento restaurants to carry the prestigious AAA four diamond designation.

You can follow Dawson’s on twitter @DineDawsons and find them on Facebook here.


Total Wine & More’s Local Favorite: My Rosé Picks for August

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A few weeks ago, I was chosen by Total Wine & More for their Total Wine & More “Local Favorite!” program. This program features a local media “influencer” each month and allows them to pick their favorite wines to recommend to customers. For the next month, I’ll be pictured next to my wine selections (with a tag that will resemble the one above) in the Sacramento (Arden) store with a link back to this website.

I was very honored to be approached, and I quickly decided I would select some rosés for the month of August. I couldn’t think of a more perfect wine for summer––a wine that pairs well with almost anything. I feel rosés are overlooked, slightly under appreciated and all too often confused with that sickly sweet white zinfandel stuff that was first made by mistake, (but a serendipitous one for them at that) by Sutter Home in 1975.

No, the rosés I am talking about are so much more than their cloying white zin “dopplegängers”. These wines have finesse, refinement and are fruity and flavorful, yet much drier. I discovered I truly did like pink colored wines again (and the difference between a white zinfandel and a rosé) a few years ago (2008 to be exact) when I tasted the Valley of the Moon Rosato di Sangiovese at the California State Fair’s Grape and Gourmet event. Since then, the rosé thing has been slowly catching on. I have tried and enjoyed several since: Bray Vineyard’s Rose of Barbera and Nichelini’s Rose of Cabernet to name a few.

Since that Grape and Gourmet event, every time the thermometer rises, my go-to wine is a rosé. And I think this summer especially, I am completely obsessed with interested in them and want to try as many as possible so I can learn even more about them.

Andy and I met up with Total Wine’s (Arden Store) Wine Manager Theo Snyder last Friday evening to taste an assortment of French and California rosés, so I could personally recommend three of them to you and the customers at Total Wine & More, Arden.

My first selection is a French rosé, Domaine Rabiotte Aix Provence Rosé 2012 ($11.99). It would fall into the “very dry” category, and it’s almost apricot/peach in color. It’s great appetizer wine, but I would be just as happy drinking it with sushi, a light fish dish, or even pork loin. It’s everything I look for in a rosé and it’s French, so it has sex appeal, no? ;)

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My second pick is the Sobon Rose Rezerve 2012 ($11.99). This rosé is a special blend of grenache, syrah and carignane and another great food wine. I could really smell the fruit when I examined the wine, and I could taste some minerality (I tend to love a little bit of earthiness in my wines) present. I wasn’t shocked that this rosé made my top three, because I have been a Sobon fan for years. Check out their Cougar Hill Zinfandel and their Barbera for more tasty adventures. :)

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My third choice is the Truett Hurst Zin Rosé Dry Creek 2012 ($17.99), which I feel is the perfect rosé wine for red wine lovers who might think they aren’t a fan of rosés. It delivers a burst of flavor and settles in between a Goldilocks-esque not-too-sweet, yet not-too dry flavor. This one works with or without food and if I stuck with straight rosés through a whole dinner, I would have this one for dessert with fresh fruits and cheeses.

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I’d like to thank Total Wine & More for asking me to take part in their “Local Favorites” promotion. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.


Summer Survival Wine Kit Giveaway Sponsored by [yellow tail] Wines

“Feel the heat burning you up, ready or not…”

I feel extremely lucky right now. I live in a small one bedroom condo and the air conditioning works great. I have access to a pool. I might not have a lot of money, but I am counting my blessings now that I have a steady job and the financial bleeding has stopped (until something else dastardly happens). ;)

This week’s temperature predictions top anything I have ever seen since I have been here (it’s my 9th summer) and according to Andy (a life-long Sacramentan) anything he has ever lived through as well. It’s supposed to be 109° today, but rather than bitch about it (like most people) I am going to swim, tan, sweat, drink water, eat ice and just get through it with a smile on my face. I’d like to apologize for said face in advance: melted, smeared and greasy! Ah, the fresh look of summer! Also, there will be lots of bad, half fixed hair (wig) days. Again, sorry. :(

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To help YOU make it through the swelter, [yellow tail] Wines has sent me this lovely beach kit, which I am going pass on to one lucky reader. I want to help [yellow tail] introduce their latest wines: The [yellow tail] Pink Moscato (with notes of strawberry and watermelon) and Sweet White Roo (flavors of tropical fruit and lemon sorbet)! They’re a perfect match for your backyard BBQ or bringing to the beach (screwtops!)

The Summer Survival Wine Kit (pictured above) Contains:
One bottle [yellow tail] Pink Moscato
One bottle [yellow tail] Sweet White Roo
One huge beach towel
One pair sunglasses
Set of plastic wine glasses
One straw hat
One pair of sandals
…All in one big pink tote! (sorry, ice cubes not included!)

OK wine lovers (especially you sangria people out there, because this wine makes a great base for sangria or summer cocktail!) :) The Summer Survival Kit is up for grabs for anyone local to Sacramento!

To win, please share this post via twitter or Facebook and leave a comment below. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR 4th of JULY? :) Feel free to share a link to your favorite recipe or blog!

I’ll pick a winner on the morning of July 3rd, so you can have your bag o’ fun by the 4th of July! Stay cool out there. xo

You can find [yellow tail] on Facebook here and on twitter here.


Mikuni Sushi Highlights Gluten-Free Awareness Month with Special Gluten-Free Menu

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May is Celiac Awareness month and Mikuni Sushi has created a special Gluten-Free menu for people seeking to avoid wheat.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  An estimated 1 in 141 Americans has celiac disease, yet 83% of those who have it are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (also known as NCGS or gluten sensitivity) is a non-specific immune response to gluten that presents with symptoms similar to celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not result in damage to the intestine, according to preliminary research. It is estimated that about 6% of the population has this condition.  Researchers don’t fully understand the long-term effects of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet is the current recommended treatment.

The demand for gluten-free food has skyrocketed in the past few years, I think as a result of more being discovered about Celiac’s and NCGS. Also, many diets have shown increased weight-loss results by cutting back on wheat or cutting grains out altogether (as we do in the Paleo diet). Let’s face it. It’s hip to be gluten-free, and if you manufacture a product that contains wheat, it’s a great idea to have a gluten-free alternative.

Also, I am of the belief that eating rice is ok in moderation or as a treat. Andy and I might eat at a sushi restaurant once every couple of months, and sometimes we eat rolls/dishes with rice in them and sometimes not. :) I wanted to showcase a variety of dishes with and without rice, even if not completely Paleo.

I sat down with the Executive Chef of Mikuni (Midtown), Daniel Schmoock (who is heading off to Japan this weekend to keep up-to-date on the latest food trends happening in the Far East) to talk about the gluten-free menu and its development. Chef Daniel has been with Mikuni’s for about 15 years and began his tenure with the restaurant group at the Fair Oaks location.

It turns out the gluten-free menu was born from customer demand and a rather lagging economy. The challenge was to make the menu interesting and fun like some of the unique rolls on the established Mikuni menus. A lot of those rolls contain gluten because they have tempura shrimp or vegetables in them. Chef Daniel told me it was also tricky because some of the ingredients used in a normal menu (such us the fish roe or tobiko) had been cured in soy sauce that contains gluten, making the ingredient unsuitable for use in a gluten-free menu. One contaminated ingredient spoils the whole dish. Chef Daniel also commented on the labels of some imported products (frequently used in restaurants) stating that some ingredients are not always entirely listed.

Before our chat was over, he recommended a few of his favorite dishes on the gluten-free menu–The Aerojet Roll and the Gluten-Free Kyushu Hamachi–for us to try first.

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The Aerojet Roll contains hamachi, tuna, avocado and rice, wrapped in cucumber and a soy wrap.

kyushu hamachiThe Gluten-Free Kyushu Hamachi is Yellowtail sashimi, minced garlic, thinly sliced jalapeños and a special gluten-free citrus sauce.

Andy and I decided on a few other items and a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay to celebrate #Chardonnay Day :)

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GF Black and WhiteOur server recommended the Gluten Free Black and White (pictured above): Lightly seared, buttery Albacore tuna toro (belly), topped with thinly sliced jalapeños, gluten-free citrus sauce and sesame seeds.

GF Sea SteakProbably the most Paleo item on the menu: the Gluten-Free Sea Steak: Seared rare tuna in Mikuni shichimi gluten-free soy dressing on top of daikon radish with sesame seeds. I could probably eat this “allday errrday” and not tire of it. ;)

tekka makiI ordered this roll, the traditional Tekka Maki (tuna roll) because it’s on the regular menu, too. And, it’s just plain good.

gluten free 3 rollFor our last dish, we ordered the Gluten-Free 3 Roll. There’s ebi, fresh salmon, hamachi, tuna, and a little wasabi inside a soy wrap. This was my favorite dish besides the Sea Steak!

There are several other creations on the menu including nigiri and sashimi options, a few other rolls (1,2, and 4 in addition to the #3 we tried) as well as a few salads, gluten-free miso soup and there are non-raw options like Gluten-Free Shioyaki Salmon, Teriyaki Salmon, Teriyaki Chicken and Teriyaki Beef.

On June 1st, the “Oh Snap, Let’s Eat! Mikuni Photo-a-Day Instagram Contest” begins. Each day of June, there will be a theme (like “This is How I Roll” or “Chop it Like it’s Hot”) and a daily prize. To enter, you’ll need to follow @mikunisushi on Instagram and post a photo that best represents the theme of the day with the #mikuniexposed hashtag and mention @mikunisushi. There are no limits to the number of entries per day and you can be as creative as you like!

I also wanted to point out that Mikuni even offers a Karui (Lite) Menu featuring Mikuni dishes that are 500 calories or less, but are not necessarily gluten-free. It’s great to have so many choices. I love it that I could go to Mikuni and splurge with a deep-fried creation on a special occasion (like the recent Here We Stay roll), or just keep it lean on a normal day.

You can find Mikuni on Facebook here and on twitter here. Thanks to Mikuni Midtown for the inside scoop on the gluten-free menu and thanks to Chef Daniel for taking time out to sit down with us before our meal. :)

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The Party Begins at the Sacramento Music Festival this Friday, May 24th!

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This weekend, the Sacramento Music Festival is back! This year, the festival is celebrating its 40th Anniversary!

As always, it’s one GIANT PARTY in Old Sacramento and surrounding hotel ballrooms pulsing with the rhythms of jazz, swing, blues, zydeco, rockabilly, bluegrass, Latin music and more. There will be dancing in the streets! Music will be running morning, noon, and midnight. There will be specialty concerts and events, like the Saturday Parade, evening lineups of dance and party bands, and a Memorial Day Salute to Service. They’ll also have world class music groups that you don’t want to miss. There’s plenty to do all weekend long. Here’s a link to the full schedule of performers.

NOTE: the PARADE takes place on SATURDAY at 10 a.m. this year. Also, bring the KIDS! FREE admission for those 12 and younger. There’s a FREE SHUTTLE between venues for festival goers.

Along with traditional favorites and festival mainstays, the 2013 Sacramento Music Festival will feature: Los Lobos, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, Ben Taylor, The Blasters, John Lee Hooker, Jr., The James Hunter Six,Wanda Jackson, Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks, Jimmy Pailer, Johnny “Guitar” Knox and the Beer Dawgs.

I am personally most excited to see Sister Swing and Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers!! :)

You can visit the website to find information on tickets, music schedule (posted in April), Special Events, food vendors, maps, hotels, venues, travel, and more. http://www.sacmusicfest.com/  You can find the Sacramento Music Festival on Facebook here and follow it on twitter here!

You can buy tickets (ranging from single day to all access weekend pass) here.

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