The Accordion Man – Cotati, California - Atlas Obscura

The Accordion Man

Cotati, California

A tribute to one man's legacy of improving the accordion's reputation.  


Depending on the angle from which you observe the statue of accordionist Jim Boggio, he may look jolly or serene, but either way, he appears one with his instrument and perfectly at home in Cotati’s La Plaza Park. Boggio is depicted standing with his Petosa piano accordion at the center of the hexagon that is downtown Cotati, playing guard over the city’s main intersection. 

So, why is an accordionist at the center of this small and unusual cityscape? 

In 1991, Boggio became cofounder and a crucial organizer of the Cotati Accordion Festival. 

Ever since, the one-of-a-kind festival has taken place at La Plaza Park every year. The aim has been “to promote the love of the accordion” while raising funds for local youth and community organizations. A memorable moment of the rollicking event comes when the musicians and audience are invited to perform the song “Lady of Spain” together—whether they know how to or not. 

Boggio participated in the festival until he died of heart failure at age 56 in 1996. After his passing, members of the community quickly raised funds for his memorial statue. 

Decades later, the Cotati Accordion Festival is still a success, drawing in thousands of attendees and raising thousands of dollars to support community organizations for children and performing arts education. During the event, the statue of Boggio, who was known as the “King of the Stomach Steinway,” is crowned and caped, appearing to play along with the music of the festival he founded. 

Know Before You Go

The statue of Jim Boggio stands at the corner of Old Redwood Highway and West Sierra Avenue just behind the sign for La Plaza Park. The Cotati Accordion Festival typically takes place in August.

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