The event raises funds for a storytelling exhibit at the Sonoma County Museum

History fans gathered at the Wild Oak Saddle Club in Santa Rosa on June 10 to sip wine, dine and raise funds for a new permanent exhibit at the Sonoma County Museum.

Guests sat at picnic tables overlooking grassy polo fields and rolling hills and enjoyed dinner courtesy of the Wild Oak Saddle Club. Afterwards, Gaye LeBaron, a retired Santa Rosa Press Democratic reporter and Sonoma County historian, spoke about the history of the Santa Rosa Museum.

There was also live music from local blues band Bill Noteman and the Rockets and an auction.

At auction, a 1941 Casa de Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon fetched about $1,300 and a painting of the Fountaingrove Round Barn, a Sonoma County landmark that burned in the 2017 North Bay wildfires, by local artist Craig Nelson cost $5,000.

The exhibit, “Sonoma County Stories,” will be a comprehensive and inclusive look at Sonoma County history through storytelling, according to museum executive director Jeff Nathanson.

“We are looking at the history of Sonoma County one story at a time. When you add them all up, you get a better picture of the diversity and…the cultures you find here,” he said.

The “heart of the project,” according to Nathanson, are interviews conducted over the past 30 years by retired journalist LeBaron.

A total of $70,000 was raised to be used for exhibit construction, technology upgrades, item preparation and installation, and maintenance.

The museum plans to open in March 2023.

Once the installation of the exhibit is complete, the next phase of the project will be to incorporate an interactive element for community members to share their stories. An annual storytelling festival is also in the works.

For more information about the museum, visit

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