5 Reasons to Stay in Humboldt Over the Summer

You just aced your last final. You turned in that 12-page research paper. You sold your textbooks back to the bookstore. Let the summer begin! Are you going to pack your bags and head back to mom and dad’s ‘til August 20? No! You’re going to stay in Humboldt County and have the best summer of your life!

Humboldt summers are more than just bike rides through the marsh and attempting to get a tan at College Cove. Here’s just five of about a thousand great reasons to stick around the north coast this summer:

Kinetic Sculpture Race
A giant purple angler fish. A larger-than-life picnic basket. A fire-breathing silver monster. These human-powered kinetic sculptures made their way from the Arcata Plaza to Ferndale’s historic Main Street in the 2011 Kinetic Grand Championship. Racers compete for glory in a three-day 42-mile race along the northern coast, pedaling along roads, water, mud and sand.

The multi-terrain trek provides loads of entertainment for spectators like Calum Weeks, an economics major at Humboldt State.

“The fact that they ride on land and in water is pretty cool,” he said. “I always look forward to seeing who sinks and who floats.”

First place is not, in fact, the most coveted prize of the event. The real winner takes home the “Mediocre Award” for finishing the race in middle place. Racers vie for “The Golden Dinosaur,” which goes to the first sculpture to break down after the start line, and “The Golden Flipper,” awarded to the best flip of a sculpture in the sand or water.

This summer marks the 44th annual Kinetic Grand Championship, and the fun kicks off at noon on May 26 on the Arcata Plaza. Spectators are encouraged to follow the race on their bikes. The festivities end with a Final Awards Dinner at Ferndale’s Fireman’s Hall.

Arcata Farmers’ Market
At the longest continuously running Certified Farmers’ Market in California, you can buy the freshest vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, sweet local honey, Arcata Bay oysters, locally made cheeses, dried and fresh flowers, local certified organic wine, locally raised grass-fed beef, lamb and poultry, and so much more!

The Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday on the Arcata Plaza from early April to mid-November.

You’ll find more than just fresh farm products at the market; you can enjoy live local music or purchase a poem written especially for you, or even juggle! HSU alum David Pham practices his hobby on sunny mornings at the market.

“My favorite thing about the Farmers’ Market is juggling outside when it’s warm,” he said.

Humboldt Crabs Baseball Games
Take me out to the ball game! What’s a summer without a little baseball? If you stay in Humboldt between semesters, you can catch a few Crabs games at the Arcata Ball Park around the corner from Safeway.

Founded in 1945, the Humboldt Crabs are the oldest continuously-operated summer collegiate baseball team in the country. This year marks the 68th consecutive season of Crabs baseball.

Crabs teammates come from west coast colleges and many join the line-ups of major league teams. Two former Humboldt Crabs, Brett Pill and Vinnie Pestano, made their mark on Major League Baseball in 2011, for the San Francisco Giants and Cleveland Indians, respectively.

HSU alum Max Garcia suggests getting to the games a bit early to grab a good seat.

“Crabs games are where it’s at,” Garcia said. “Remember to bring a sweatshirt for later games. It gets cold quick.”

Baseball fans can win prizes for dressing up during special event games like Cowboy Night on June 22 or 80’s Night on June 15. Bring your top 10 list of baseball heckles to the ballpark for “Heckle Night” on July 10 as Crabs fans participate in a good, ole-fashioned, annual ribbing — keep it clean — of the other team.

The Crab Grass Band makes an appearance at nearly every game and can be heard blocks away from the park. The band is made up of musicians from the Humboldt area who come together each summer to entertain at the games. Since 1983, the band has provided musical interludes pre-game, post-game and between innings.

Music major Ryan Egan recommends going to a game when the Crab Grass Band is there. He might be a little biased — Egan plays tuba for the band!

“You can request a song if you’d like,” Egan said. “And buy the band a beer!”

Don your blue and red for Opening Day on Saturday, June 2!

Oyster Festival
Oyster lovers can enjoy a day in the sun on the Arcata Plaza while sampling fresh oysters harvested right here in the Arcata Bay. Don’t worry, non-oyster fans: some vendors sell other food options.

The Arcata Bay provides over 70 percent of the oysters consumed in California, and June is the peak month for harvest. The 22nd Annual Oyster Festival, which ranked seventh on Away.com’s list of the top ten food festivals in the world, takes place on June 16.

Former Humboldt resident Andy Rydzewski often refers to the Oyster Festival as the greatest day on Earth.

“It’s like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one,” he said. “And I love Christmas.”

The oyster fanatic likes to keep track of how many oysters he eats at each festival on his t-shirt. Two years ago, Rydzewski ate 127 oysters in one day.

“That year I was also an Oyster Fest judge, which is pretty much the greatest honor I could ever imagine,” he said. “Oyster Fest is my one true love!”

Last year, over 18,000 attendees dined on oysters prepared by local culinary talent, enjoyed local microbrews, drank fine wine, and danced to live music.

Marine biology major Mandy Mazzei enjoyed sampling oysters while sharing the sun with the crowd.

“Everyone was happy and mingling,” she said. “Just a great experience.”

River Trips
Some of the best summer memories include a little wet and wild fun, so grab a few friends and head out to the river.

Elementary education major Brittany McKay’s favorite river spot is just outside of Willow Creek.

“We always go upstream — less people so you can kind of do whatever you want,” she said. “It’s worth it to walk farther away from the parking lot to have your own space.”

Casey Rumble, a recreation major at HSU, is a fan of Tish Tang, a popular spot on the Trinity River.

“The rope swing is a classic!” Rumble said.

The river can be both incredibly fun and incredibly dangerous, so make sure you and your friends stay safe. Follow these river safety tips:

  1. Don’t get in the water if you’re not confident in your swimming abilities. People are frequently swept downstream by strong currents, and the results can be tragic.
  2. Never swim alone!
  3. If you plan on jumping into the water, jump feet first. Too many swimmers are seriously injured every year by entering headfirst into water that is too shallow.
  4. Avoid high water. The river is especially deep at the beginning of the summer making the current even stronger. Even the strongest swimmers are no match for a raging current.

While Arcata remains nice and cool during the summer, just an hour away at Camp Kimtu on the Trinity River, the temperature climbs into the high 80's. Camp Kimtu is just one mile outside of Willow Creek off Highway 299. You can also check out the Klamath River, Mad River and Eel River.

If we haven’t convinced you to stay yet, maybe Journalism major Kristina Naderi can:

“There’s no place as amazing Arcata in the summer,” she said. “It’s when most of the students are gone and the town just comes alive.”