This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The event aims to please art aficionados, oenophiles, foodies and children of all ages.
It began in 1979, when the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA) - a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization - created the festival to raise funds for events and programs that promote the downtown Los Altos business district.
The early festival was a small crafts fair located in a parking plaza. Today, the festival hosts more than 375 craft and arts booths, two food courts, three stages of live music and entertainment, and a free dance concert (scheduled 6 p.m. Saturday on the Walgreens Main Stage).
The festival’s Family Fun Zone has become one of the most popular offerings at the event, featuring games, rides and crafts - including a small nail salon for children and parents alike.
It takes a village
The scores of local organizations and businesses that support the festival are crucial to its success, according to Nancy Dunaway, LAVA executive director. She said LAVA is particularly grateful for Walgreens’ ongoing support; the downtown retailer is in its 12th year as a contributor, again sponsoring the Main Stage. Safeway, scheduled to open its new downtown store next week, sponsors the Community Stage. Both Safeway and Walgreens have booths at the festival.
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Committee this year has partnered with two companies in special ways, Dunaway said. Celebrity Cruises is the festival’s glassware sponsor; look for its website address on the back of each festival wine and beer glass. Celebrity Cruises also has a booth, at which representatives will provide information on voyages they offer.
Comcast hosts a World Cup Tent next to the Costume Bank on State Street. Festivalgoers eager to catch the final two days of soccer action on TV are invited to stop in and take a seat with fellow fans - food and drink in hand.
Those planning to travel to the festival by car need not worry about finding a parking spot. Park at Los Altos High School - located at 201 Almond Ave. - and take the free shuttle to and from the event. Shuttles, provided by Corinthian Transportation Services, drop off and pick up passengers on Edith Avenue near San Antonio Road - next to shady Village Park.
Festival organizers also appreciate the support and involvement of local groups and organizations, including the Boy Scouts, the Girls Scouts, the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Altos Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. GreenTown Los Altos again staffs the festival’s free Bike and Stroller Valet Parking area, located across from the Family Fun Zone on Third Street. Last year, GreenTown volunteers parked more than 1,000 bikes and strollers.
Since 2006, Pacific Fine Arts of Pine Grove has coordinated the nearly 400 artisans participating in the festival. Dunaway said Dana and Troy Hale-Mounier, who run Pacific Fine Arts, "have worked tirelessly" with the festival committee to provide a wide variety of artwork, jewelry and crafts.
Art, wine and entertainment
Representatives from six boutique wineries are pouring their creations - from Chardonnay to Syrah and Zinfandel. Wineries include festival staples Fernwood Cellars, Naumann Vineyards, Page Mill Winery, Thomas Fogarty Winery and Vineyards, and Martin Ranch Winery, along with newcomer Domenico Winery.
"We hope that all the wine lovers will stop by each of our six boutique wineries," Dunaway said. "You can learn a little about the local wine industry and enjoy wonderful wine."
For those more in the mood for beer, the festival has you covered. The four beer trucks stationed at the event serve several selections, including Corona Light, Goose Island IPA, Stella Artois, Shock Top and Gordon Biersch Dunkel’s Dark. In addition, the trucks carry Bud Light’s Lime-A-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita beverages.
The official drinking glasses required for enjoying the wine, beer and margaritas are available at four festival locations. Festivalgoers purchasing a glass at these booths are given a proof-of-drinking-age wristband to wear. Those who leave the festival but plan on returning later that day or the next day are reminded to keep their wristbands on and bring their beer mugs or wine glasses back with them.
Veteran festival band Sage is set to close Saturday’s Main Stage entertainment with a 6 p.m. dance concert featuring popular rhythm and blues, funk and soul songs. This marks the fourth consecutive year Sage will headline the free event. The Main Stage is located in the Central Plaza.
"It’s a great way to end a fun day at the festival," Dunaway said. "We hope that you will plan on enjoying the concert with a dinner from one of our many food vendors or downtown restaurants. Get your food to go, find a table at the Main Stage and do a little dancing in between bites."
Proceeds from the festival support programs, events, advertising and other efforts LAVA undertakes to promote downtown Los Altos as a shopping and dining destination. With ever-increasing competition from the Internet and surrounding shopping centers and developments, Dunaway said LAVA is poised to do all it can to tout the downtown triangle of Los Altos as a prime place to stroll, dine, shop and relax with friends, family and visitors.
"We want downtown Los Altos to be your downtown - the place where you meet with friends, visit with family or do your everyday errands and shopping," she said.
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival is scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Organizers encourage people to bring their children but leave pets at home.
For more information on the Los Altos Village Association and the festival, call 949-5282 or visit downtownlosaltos.org. m