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October 28, 2021
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Cotati will have its annual fill of accordions

By: Irene Hilsendager
September 17, 2021

Sitting at a stop light, letting some random thoughts wander aimlessly for a few minutes and yikes, another thought pops in the noggin about the upcoming accordion festival that soon will fill the streets of Cotati and fill La Plaza Park with overflowing crowds of people that are ready to hear many different genres of music.

The accordion! What sound does an accordion make? It is not a growl or an oopa of the tuba or the plinking of a piano. Thoughts are just swirling around in the air as to how to describe the melodious sounds of accordions and with big and little button accordions, do they change sounds?

Is the accordion a percussion or wind instrument? According to some descriptions, it would technically be a woodwind instrument. Just think about it. It is made of wood and uses bellows to force air through free reeds inside. Although the keyboard looks like a piano keyboard, the keys release air just like a woodwind instrument.

The accordion has a very rich, reedy and organ-like sound and is able to play a single or multiple notes on both sides.

Why is the accordion being so described why does it pertain to Cotati and a festival? Because our own Jim Boggio started with a dream to bring the festival to sleepy Cotati.

Boggio was a native of Illinois and attended San Francisco State University and the SF Conservatory of Music. In the 50s and 60s he played accordion among other instruments in showrooms of large Vegas and Reno hotels.

By a round-about way, Jim shows up in Sonoma County and meets Clifton Buck-Kauffman. These two men had the imagination, talent, commitment to the community, were able to involve others that had determination and of course, calling in favors. There are untold stories and how this all came about but there really wasn’t any money but because this group loved and respected the accordion and Cotati that the festival came into being. 

Boggio recorded an album at the Cotati based recording company, Prairie Sun Studios and it just so happened the co-owner of the studio was Buck-Kauffman, a long time Cotation. Clifton was very involved with the community and along with Boggio, things began to happen. The two men discussed the idea of an accordion festival at a local bar in town and both seemed to take to the idea and a deal was hatched. Boggio would be handling the music and by securing musicians, planning the program, orchestrating musical productions and Buck-Kauffman would handle the rest such as staging, sound equipment, banners, etc. With much financial backing needed, Buck-Kauffman turned to the City of Cotati, the Cotati Chamber and Sonoma County’s Cultural Arts Council, but also private contributions were solicited.

The Cotati festival was presented as a community service, free to the public held in the downtown plaza under large spreading oak trees. The response was amazing. People of all ages were dancing, tapping their feet and just having a grand old time.

The CAF is a 501C3 no-profit organization dedicated to providing funds for Performing Arts Programs in the local schools.

The 30th annual Cotati Accordion Festival, being held September 25-26, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, will be a two-day, multi-cultural, multi-generational extravaganza held in the La Plaza Park in downtown Cotati.

There will be 40 plus bands on seven stages also including some outside venues.

Please follow the guidelines set by the Sonoma County Board of Health and Environmental Services. Because it is not a mass gathering (which is 9,999 or more), it is considered to be safe, since it is being held outdoors. No proofs will be required at this time. 

However, it is strongly urged to be vaccinated, be masked, use the sanitation stands and to try not to talk in close range with strangers for an extended period.

The Polka tent is outdoors however people dancing Zydeco in the club will have to follow the county mandate of wearing a mask indoors.

The tickets will be $21 for a one-day ticket and $29 for a two-day ticket at the gate. Kids 15 and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

There is a free parking and shuttle service to and from Cal Trans parking lot at the north end of Cotati at the corner of Old Redwood Highway and St. Joseph’s Way. The shuttle will also stop at the E. Cotati Smart Train station on Saturday. The parking and shuttle service is free.