The Kate Wolf Music Festival is an annual music event that takes place in Laytonville, California. It is held every year to honor the life and music of folk singer and songwriter, Kate Wolf. Black Oak Ranch, a beautiful multi-acre property that offers a number of attractions for visitors, is the venue for the event.
Kate Wolf was a key figure in the folk music scene and had a major role to play in reviving the genre in the 1970s. She passed away in 1986 after a long battle with leukemia. The first-ever festival took place in 1996 at Caswell Vineyards on a small scale. It was moved to Black Oak Ranch in 2001 to accommodate multiple stages and offer camping options to guests.
Legendary folk musicians headline the festival and attended by thousands of music fans every year. Artists who have performed at Kate Wolf Music Festival in the past include Nina Gerber, Ford James, Faith Petric, Girlyman, Hart Rouge, Indigo Girls, Jesse Klien, The Jones Gang, Love Choir, and Los Lobos.
Kate Wolf Music Festival has had a positive economic and cultural impact on the region. Visitors flock to the event for its eclectic music lineup, the gorgeous natural setting, and the laid back vibe.
Advanced tickets go on sale a few months before the Kate Wolf Music Festival, and it’s a good idea to opt for these if you’d like to save some money. Single-day, two-day, three-day, and four-day passes are available as well as evening only tickets.
In recent years, tickets have ranged in price from $40 for an Advanced Thursday evening-only Adult Ticket to $360 for an Advanced four-day Adult Ticket.
An unreserved camping spot may be included with a two-day, three-day, or four-day pass. Children under the age of 10 can usually enter the festival for free if they are accompanied by an adult.
Laytonville is a three-hour drive from San Francisco. It is about two hours away from Arcata. Once you reach Laytonville, you’ll need to head north for about five miles to get to Black Oak Ranch for the Kate Wolf Music Festival. The ranch is located right off Highway 101, and there will be plenty of signs to guide you there.
Motorists may easily enjoy the beauty of the forestlands of Northern California but will want to stay alert on the winding and curving roads. Caltrans can help you monitor road and weather conditions along Highway 101 and for Mendicino County.
Guests may encounter free parking available at the venue for cars and might be able to spot the parking lot from the highway. If you are driving to the site in an RV and plan on camping there, you’ll need to purchase an RV pass. This will give you access to the RV campground, so you can head there directly and find a spot.
Since the festival takes place outside Laytonville, public transport options can be hard to find. Your best bet is to meet up with fellow campers and carpool to the venue. Alternatively, some of the local campgrounds have been known to offer shuttle services to Black Oak Ranch on the days of the event.
Onsite RV campsites are available to festival patrons with vehicles larger than 24 feet in length; note the size of your camper or motorhome when selecting your camping pass. Electrical, water, and sewer RV hookups are not available. Guests will have access to fresh water and a bathhouse with showers and sinks. There will be several porta-potties located in the camping areas and throughout the grounds.
You’ll find a couple of well-equipped options in the Leggett area, about 15 minutes to the north of the festival venue. Standish Hickey State Park is about 20 minutes away from the site via Highway 101. It offers only primitive RV camping, but guests will have access to the river and great hiking trails.
Bicycles, skateboards, skates, scooters, and other personal vehicles will not be allowed in the performance spaces. The event takes place outdoors, so there will be areas with uneven or grassy terrain. Patrons with disabilities can use manual and motorized wheelchairs to get around the ranch. Accessible camping and parking spots are available.
The vibe at the Kate Wolf Music Festival is quite relaxed. You may not see guests dressed in costumes or wearing elaborate headdresses. Most festival-goers will be wearing comfortable, casual clothing like jeans and t-shirts. You will need some warm outerwear for the evenings and nights.
Pack a day back with essentials if you don’t want to walk back to your campsite for every little necessity. Festival organizers recommend bringing a small radio so you can keep track of the performances even when you’re back at your camp. Be sure to take a low-backed chair or a blanket so that you can enjoy the shows while seated.
There will be water tanks throughout the grounds where guests can fill up bottles with drinking water. Some parts of the venue are not associated with the events and are off-limits to festival guests. Look out for posted signs and avoid venturing into these areas. Ensure that you don’t leave any of your belongings behind in the seating areas at the end of the night.
Individual fires or barbecues will not be allowed in the campground, but campers can bring small gas stoves to prepare meals. Pack your dinner and head to the communal campfire that’s lit every night by the creek. Here you can eat your meal by the fireside while you enjoy great music and storytelling sessions.
If you go on a short drive to Laytonville or the neighboring towns, you’ll find plenty of eateries to feed your crew, including several major restaurant chains. While in the area, you will also find a few cafes where you can grab a drink or dessert. You may also want to try some of the authentic Mexican food on offer.
Start your morning by heading to one of the food stands for a hot cup of coffee or tea. Plenty of delicious food is usually sold throughout the day. For those with a sweet tooth, you can expect to find a few favorites at the Kate Wolf Music Festival. A variety of wines and beer on tap will also be available for purchase.
The camping areas have 24-hour security, and there will be a central security booth located at the Black Oak Ranch. You can head there if you need support or need to report anything. Trained security personnel will be happy to assist you. If you lose something, you can go to the lost and found area located in the security tent.
Northern California weather is typically sunny during the day and much cooler after the sun sets. The Kate Wolf Music Festival is a rain or shine event, and no refunds will be given. It’s a good idea to call 511 or check the event's social media pages for weather or road alerts before starting your travels.
Basic first aid will be available on the festival grounds. Make sure the first aid kit in your RV is stocked and updated to be prepared for emergencies. Medically necessary items and food will need to be presented at the gate before being allowed in. ADA support and information can be found in the medical tent.