Flipping the script, Larson reborn, file and run, and more

Posted on August 2, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma International Film Festival has made major off-screen casting changes, as longtime executive and creative director Kevin W. McNeely slides into the role of SIFF Director Emeritus. Ginny Krieger, part of the event since 2001, is the new executive director. And Carl Spence, with 28 years in the film industry, most recently with the Miami Film Festival, is now SIFF’s Artistic Director. Krieger has held management roles with SIFF including Administrative Director, Assistant Director and Co-Director. Spence has held programming posts with film festivals Palm Springs, San Francisco and Seattle. His resume includes marketing, sponsorship, publicity, and talent management. 

Just five months after a fire destroyed its tasting room and historic memorabilia, Larson Family Winery opens its (newly installed) doors on August 4. Tasting Room Manager Hayden Puryear says his crew has been working “tirelessly around the clock” to ready the outdoor area, which is tricked out with bocce ball, cornhole and cabanas. At the end of Limerick Lane in the Carneros, the land from the 1920s through 1950s was the site of the Sonoma Rodeo. Fittingly, one tasting-flight option is the “This Ain’t Our First Rodeo” collection. 

On the nonprofit front, Sonoma Valley Catalyst Fund has launched a permanent fund effort with $500k gift from Community Foundation Sonoma County. The Catalyst Fund, a temporary emergency fund responding to Covid emergencies with $1.6 mission in grants, launched in 2020. As the needs continue, so will the fund. “We’re at a critical moment in the Sonoma Valley—a time when more people than ever are turning to nonprofits for support,” said Sheryl Alexander, interim CEO of CFSC. “We’re proud to partner with the local Valley volunteers leading this effort and will work to lend the Community Foundation’s philanthropic knowledge, infrastructure, and grantmaking expertise where it’s helpful.”

The Rotary Club of Sonoma Valley has named Scott Murray club president for its 2022-2023 Rotary year. Murray joined the club in 2017 and has previously led the club’s membership and governance committees. The club’s response to the October 2017 wildfires showed the power of Rotary to support the community in the time of a disaster, he said. “I knew from its history that Rotary had improved the quality of life in the community in all sorts of ways.” Murray said the club plans to continue partnering with other community organizations, like the Sonoma Ecology Center and Jack London State Historic Park (see page 10), to support hands-on service projects.  

The filing period to run for any of Sonoma County’s 225 available positions is now open, with candidates having until August 12 to submit their paperwork. There are several important races to represent Sonoma and the Sonoma Valley, including three seats on the Sonoma City Council. Sonoma Valley Unified School District Trustee Areas 1 and 2 are also in contention. Other districts with open seats: Kenwood Fire Protection District; Schell-Vista Fire Protection District; Sonoma Valley Fire District; Sonoma Valley Health Care District; and Valley of the Moon Water District. Throw your virtual hat in the ring at

Sugarloaf State Park is under surveillance by a network of 41 cameras, but the subjects don’t seem to mind. The Critter Cam Project tracks and records wildlife movement through the park and adjacent private lands. Volunteers, like Guy Miller and Sierra Martin, place and manage the cameras, then review the footage to note patterns and activity. Miller recalls his favorite images as a bobcat calling for its mate, a large black bear taking a bath in a stream, a group of grey fox pups frolicking in front of the camera, and a badger. Sifting through the source footage isn’t easy, but it’s important work, Martin told the Sonoma Ecology Center Blog. “I hope that the data from this program helps to preserve the wildlife corridor that so many of these animals use.” Of course, adds Miller, “it’s always exciting when we record an apex predator, such as a mountain lion or black bear.”


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