Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally made a surprise appearance at the Monte Rio Variety Show on Thursday night.
Nearly 40 years ago, inside a school gym, Melissa Palu and her mom watched barbershop quartets and local violinists as they performed at the Monte Rio show.
On Thursday evening, Palu again found herself at the Monte Rio show, this time with her friends.
Thousands of people gathered at the center of the redwood-rimmed Amphitheatre for the return — after nearly three years — of the Monte Rio Variety Show. The sold-out event marked its 111th year.
First held in 1911, the show raises funds for the Monte Rio Fire Services Foundation, Monte Rio School Foundation and St. Catherine’s Catholic Church. It was emceed by late-night TV talk show host Conan O’Brien.
“I hosted this show virtually last year but I thought, ‘I need to meet these people!’ I need to meet these people!!” O’Brien shouted while the crowd laughed.
“It’s always a classy event when you have to bring your own chair!” he added.
A secret lineup of artists and acts, who were not revealed until Thursday night’s show, included singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, San-Francisco based harpist and violinist Carlos Reyes, and a variety of local acts.
The performers are provided by the nearby annual Bohemian Grove encampment.
“We’re enthusiastic about bringing this tradition to you every year,” Charles “Chip” Wiser, president of the Bohemian Club said as he welcomed the cheering crowd at the beginning of the show.
Sitting in lawn chairs, people bobbed their heads to blues and jazz as smoke emanated from nearby grills. Some hugged, or stood in circles to talk, while many others stood in line for wine, beer, hot dogs or tasty barbecue.
Eager attendees arrived around 7 a.m. Thursday to set up chairs in the Amphitheatre, reserving their spots before the show, which quickly sold out earlier this month, Michele McDonell, an organizer, said.
“That’s never happened before,” she said of the event selling out 10 days before show night.