RIO VISTA -- It has taken place in various months throughout its history and the festivities have evolved with the times, but California's oldest fishing derby still offers a sense of nostalgia and family-oriented fun after 65 years in existence.

The Rio Vista Bass Derby & Festival, which kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday, remains a recreational and fun-filled weekend for all ages. More than 900 anglers will complete for prizes by casting their reels into the Delta.

"The festival has been held all over the calendar, but October is the best time of year for the fishing season," said Rio Vista Chamber of Commerce President Phil Pezzaglia, who added that in the 1950s the annual event drew 9,000 attendees to the city when it had just 2,000 residents.

One of the most popular events at the festival is the car show, where 250 classic cars made before 1974 will cruise the city's streets. For added nostalgia, the Rio Vista High School radio station will broadcast oldies and a Wolfman Jack impersonator will be on hand.

"We will give you that American Graffiti feel," Pezzaglia said.

Calling the festival "The Reel Deal" bass derby, organizers say the downtown area will be bustling with activities including the California Carnival featuring a variety of amusement rides, the popular soap box derby, Sunday's morning's community parade, local bands, a karaoke contest and many vendors. Most of the events will take place at Main and Front streets.

Early birds on Saturday morning can shop at the Bass Festival Rummage Sale and get a bite to eat at the Lions Club pancake breakfast. Saturday's events will be capped with the evening fireworks display.

This year's festival logo was created by Rio Vista High art student and senior Shelby Sanders. Pezzaglia hopes to continue this new tradition.

"The artwork turned in so captured the feel of the old school carnival and car show of the 1950s," he said.

Among the event's sponsors are EDF Renewable Energy, Rio Vista Sanitation, the California Striped Bass Association, Fish Hookers Magazine and the city of Rio Vista.

"We are looking forward to officially kicking off the bass derby and festival in grand style again this year and encourage new and returning visitors and residents alike to join us for the festivities," said Rio Vista Chamber Executive Director Karen James Smith.

Overall, it is that simple, old-fashioned fun that has made the festival a draw for decades, according to Pezzaglia.

"It is nice to have a throw-back to the simple things," he said. "It is a clean, family-oriented event and parents like to talk about their memories with their children."

Reach staff writer Paula King at 925-779-7174 or pking@bayareanewsgroup.com.

If you go
What: Rio Vista Bass Derby & Festival
When:4 to 10 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Info: Rio Vista Chamber of Commerce at 707-374-2700