Get outdoors this spring with these 10 warm-weather events

Photos courtesy of event organizers

Spring is in the air, bringing more sunshine and warmer weather to the Sacramento region. From food fests to outdoor concerts, here are 10 fun ways to welcome in the new season.

Doggy Dash

April 8 William Land Park will go to the dogs at this 24th annual event hosted by and benefiting the Sacramento SPCA, during which pooches and their humans can strut through the scenic neighborhood on a 5K or 2K run/walk circling the Sacramento Zoo, Fairytale Town, Funderland and the golf course. Stick around afterward for the Bark in the Park Festival, which will feature contests in categories like “Cutest Wag” and “So Ugly I’m Cute,” with toys and treats as prizes. Two-legged participants can browse more than 80 booths featuring pet-friendly products like toys, nametags and shampoos, chow down on food truck fare and sip craft beer, mimosas and bloody Marys at a beer garden. Proceeds from the day help the Sacramento SPCA care for more than 7,000 animals annually. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 5K or 2K walk registration: $35 – $40. William Land Park. 3800 Land Park Dr. 504-2802.

Sacramento Beer and Chili Festival

April 8 Restaurant veterans will join a roster of home chefs at this sixth annual cook-off, a benefit for the Sacramento Artists Council, which this year is raising funds for programs for at-risk and homeless children. Contestants like the River City Brewing Company team and Cap City Smokers be competing in four categories—industry, individual, vegetarian and people’s choice—and the spicy bowls can be washed down with libations from the likes of Shilling Cider and Highwater Brewing, which will also be competing for best cider and best beer awards. $20-$35. 1-5 p.m. Roosevelt Park. 1615 9th St. 716-2319.

Picnic Day

April 22 UC Davis’ biggest event of the year returns for the 103rd time with plenty of noise, merriment and entertainment. Watch the campus parade, cheer on the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh! during the Battle of the Bands competition, take the kids to a chemistry magic show at the Children’s Discovery Fair, then stick around for the popular dachshund and cockroach races. And if you’re thirsty, the university’s brewing majors will be pouring pints of their homework. Free. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 530-752-6320. UC Davis. 1 Shields Ave. Davis.

Sacramento Earth Day

April 23 Celebrate Mother Earth's special day at this eco-friendly festival in Southside Park, which will feature environmental education stations, short skits demonstrating earth-saving lifestyle tips and vegan cuisine. Five acts will take to the main stage, including locally based West African music and dance group Fenix Drum and Dance Company, followed by Sacramento swing band Cat’s Meow and local singer-songwriter James Israel. Little ones can put their busy hands to work at a craft-making area or burn some clean energy by running around at a pop-up playground. Free. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Southside Park. 2115 6th St. 444.0022.

Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival

April 29-30 This 141-year-old festival—touted as the third-oldest event of its kind in the U.S.—is expected to attract over 10,000 revelers to Woodland to celebrate the cultural riches of Scotland with everything from piping and drumming competitions to a beard and mustache contest to the traditional caber toss—in which kilted athletes see how far they can throw a small tree. Watch Highland dances and a performance by local Irish band Bobby and the Kennedys, or take an archery lesson. Kids can laugh with Clan McClown in the Land Ó Lads & Lassies or learn to throw mini cabers and stones. Don’t miss the malt whiskey seminar and tasting, or the hearty traditional eats like meat pies and haggis, Scotland’s famed offal-icious national dish. $17 ($8 for children ages 8-17; Free for ages 7 and under). Yolo County Fairgrounds. 1250 Gum Ave. Woodland. 530-402-2222.

California Honey Festival

May 6 Woodland, in partnership with UC Davis’ Honey and Pollination Center, will be all abuzz at this inaugural celebration. Beginning May 1, the city’s restaurants and bars will offer honey-centric menus, with meads and honey beers on tap, and the week will culminate on May 6 with a sweet fête, which will include a mead speakeasy with a password-protected entrance and tastes of the honey wine from Strad Meadery. Folks can learn about backyard beekeeping and bee-friendly plants for the home garden, or take a honey-tasting wheel for a whirl inside the Honey Lab. Foodies can take in honey-forward cooking demonstrations by chefs like Marie Simmons, who wrote the cookbook Taste of Honey. Free. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Downtown Woodland.

First Festival

May 6-7 Kicking off the summer music festival season, First Festival will host 40 acts, such as Sacramento grunge bands Oleander and Some Fear None, horror-themed rockers The Moans and bluesy soul group Drop Dead Red, on three stages over two days. Comedy shows will keep the crowd entertained in between concerts, including a taping of the local podcast High Anxiety Variety Show. The visual arts will get their due, too, with a pop-up gallery, several large installations, a giant coloring book and a “thought” chalkboard on which festival-goers can scrawl their innermost musings. Don’t forget to stop by the soda lounge for artisan pop from Burly Beverages. $15-$40 for single-day tickets; $25-$100 for weekend passes. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. River Walk Park. 651 2nd St. West Sacramento.

Roseville Berryfest

May 13-14 Put your best fruit forward at this weekend fête celebrating Placer County’s bountiful harvest of berries. Grown-ups can head to the beer garden for strawberry margaritas and strawberry beer, and all attendees can indulge in treats like blueberry beignets, strawberry flan and raspberry tarts. In addition to the strawberry-shortcake-eating contest, Little Miss Strawberry Pageant and kids’ carnival with rides like the Berry-go-round, this year will see the return of a reptile petting zoo where youngsters can get up close and personal with cold-blooded crawlers like the crested gecko, bearded dragon and box turtle. $10. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Placer County Fairgrounds. 800 All American City Blvd. Roseville. 787-0101.

Sacramento County Fair

May 25-29 Cal Expo will host five days of festive fun over Memorial Day weekend. Ring in the summer season and celebrate the California heartland with agricultural displays, a corn-dog-eating contest, and of course, plenty of indulgent fair fare, like s’mores funnel cakes and bacon-wrapped hotdogs. Musical acts like Led Zeppelin cover band “In the Led” and Rebel Yell, a five piece band that performs ’80s hits from artists like Madonna, Bon Jovi and Duran Duran, will take to the main stage for nostalgia buffs, but there's something for everyone in the family, from an equestrian competition to a monster truck derby to a bull riding contest. $6 (free for children 12 and under). Hours vary by day. Cal Expo. 1600 Exposition Blvd. 263-2975.

Spring Strawberry Music Festival

May 25-29 Dozens of acts will play that funky music at this 65th festival, which features a lineup spanning blues, funk, folk, rock and alt-country, including Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, famed English guitarist Richard Thompson, rising Texas folk star Sarah Jarosz, and Northern California band The Steep Ravine. The music festival—set inside the Nevada County Fairgrounds—considered the state’s most beautiful—will offer overnight camping, yoga, dance and art workshops, and a kids parade. Prices and times vary. Nevada County Fairgrounds. 11228 McCourtney Rd. Grass Valley. 209-984-8630.

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