The California Mermaid Convention is expected to make a big splash this weekend, so we reached out to its co-founder Ashley Rastad — aka Mermaid Ashley — to learn more about the Sac-based event + her beloved River City.
Keep reading to find out why our city is a great place for mermaids, and where Ashley thinks Sacramento will be in 25 years.
Q: As its co-founder, can you tell me a little bit about the California Mermaid Convention + how the idea for it came to be?
A: The California Mermaid Convention started as the Promenade of Mermaids in 2011 when a small group of friends and costume enthusiasts got together in their fanciest nautical attire and pranced along the streets of Old Sac. Several years later we teamed up with more local makers and mers for “Mermaid Weekend in Sacramento.” By 2019, it was clear that the community wanted more, so we launched the California Mermaid Convention.
Q: Thanks to you + the convention’s other founder Rachel Smith, Sacramento seems like a great place for the mermaid community. What makes the area appealing to you?
A: I am a third generation Sacramentan, and I think our city is beautiful and unique. I grew up with access to gorgeous natural waterways, trees everywhere, farm-fresh food, a rich history, lots of art and artistic outlets. Dive Bar is also world famous and really special. There aren’t many other places in the world where you can see live mermaid performers in film quality costuming under professional lighting.
Q: What do you think Sacramento will be known for in 10 years? In 25?
A: I hope Sacramento will be known for its bustling art scene and ample public transportation in 10, 25, 50 years. I think it will be known for mermaids after this article gets released. There are more mermaids in this city than you might think.
Q: Is there an event you think would be great for someone who’s never been?
A: The main event on Saturday is a fantastic way to dabble in all things mermaid — no tail required. Lounge in the pool, enjoy delicious food, shop our aquatic themed vendors, sit in on a lecture, or take a ramble to the river with Echo. I would also highly recommend the Bubble Ball on Saturday night as we will all have feet then. This is a beautiful event, filled with beautiful costumes, food, music + friendly merfolk.
Q: Can you tell me about Pixie Tribe Entertainment? What led you to establish it in 2015, and what’s the story behind its name?
A: Pixie Tribe is my tiny children’s entertainment company, and my heart’s passion. We visit local events, private celebrations, and gatherings of all kinds to share magic shows, giant bubbles, sparkling face paints, colorful balloon twists + so much more.
The Pixie Tribe name is an invitation of sorts... to come join our tribe of merrymaking clowns, pixies, mermaids, friends and magic-makers. All are welcome.
Q: As someone who has never been a mermaid, can you speak a little bit about the process of becoming one?
A: Anyone can be a mermaid! There are no rules. Once you know you’d like to swim like a mermaid you are only a few items away from making that dream a reality. Check with your local community pool + see if they offer a mermaid class. There are several local pods that swim recreationally and plan meet-ups. It’s a great way to be physical, have a little fun while being silly and making new friends.
Q: Describe your perfect day in Sacramento in the length of a Tweet (280 characters).
A: To-go breakfast from N Street Café that’s enjoyed at Southside Park with my husband and our two kids. Rent a kayak at Sac State Aquatic Center, lunch, float, swim. BBQ dinner at home. Sunset in Rancho Cordova with everyone asleep by 9 p.m.
Q: You can only choose one local restaurant menu to bring with you to a deserted island — which one is it and why?
A: Chita’s — I could last a lifetime on an island with enough Mexican food.
Q: Name 3-5 other local leaders, movers + shakers you’re watching.
Q: What were the last 3 things you did locally?
A: Picked up some mermaid gear at Evangeline’s Costume Mansion. Performed for a five year old’s birthday celebration in East Sacramento. Face painted children at the Sacramento Zoo... then visited my friend the pelican, who is the best.
Q: Who are 2-3 other local figures you’re inspired by? Why?
A: Chris Cook of Green Valley Theatre Company is an incredibly talented individual and provides Sacramento with incredible artistic and unique theatrical experiences. He welcomes all and will teach you all he knows.
Rachel Smith is a constant — near daily — inspiration. She manages several businesses, designs amazing costuming, she is an illustrator, artist, painter, and she literally turns humans into mermaids all while being kind, understanding, flexible + patient. She is also a really good friend.
Q: What’s something that every Sacramentan should know about?
A: The Fruit Basket Cake at Rick’s Dessert Diner.