Making a Splash

Photo by Tim Engle
mermaid splash
Ashley Rastad and Rachel Smith

“Mermaids are definitely having a moment,” says Rachel Smith, professional mermaid and co-organizer of the first-ever California Mermaid Convention, which is swimming into Sacramento July 12–14.

Smith and co-organizer Ashley Rastad of Pixie Tribe Entertainment had been running another local event—Mermaid Weekend—for five years when they realized they were beginning to outgrow their usual venues and needed more space to flip their fins.

The convention is a “three-day ‘shell’-ebration” of everything merfolk, including a launch party at downtown’s Dive Bar, group mermaid swims and workshops at Rusch Park Community Center pool, the Promenade of Mermaids parade through Old Sacramento and the masquerade Bubble Ball as well as lectures and performances by professional mermaids and mermen.

“We run the gamut of all things nautical and we’re open to everyone,” says Smith, a visual artist who fashioned her first tail in high school—even though her mom was convinced she’d accidentally drown herself trying to be part of their world. (Her mom eventually took the plunge—she now helps Smith run Mermaid and Mom, a costume and party company.) Smith has also been the head mermaid at Dive Bar since it opened in 2011 and performs worldwide.

The launch party on Friday and the family day on Sunday are free. A Main Entry ticket on Saturday gives you access to the entire convention. Attendees are invited to the River Clean Up and Picnic on Sunday. The convention benefits a local charity every year, and 2019 proceeds will support the American River Parkway Foundation.

For more information, visit