The early verdict on the 2013 Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival is positive, according to the event’s organizer.
Nancy Dunaway, executive director of the Los Altos Village Association (LAVA), told the Town Crier last week that the festival – held July 13-14 in downtown Los Altos – was a success based on the 7 to 9 percent increase organizers saw in beer, wine and glassware sales. Although she cautioned that the cited sales were preliminary, ballpark figures, Dunaway noted that the festival appeared to pass the eyeball test in terms of crowd size.
“We had a great crowd,” she said of the 34th annual event. “The weather was perfect, which is always helpful.”
Several downtown merchants gave the festival good reviews.
Jim Reynolds, co-owner of Present at 162 Main St., said he took advantage of the occasion to advertise artisan food tastings and other in-store demonstrations via a small chalk billboard in front of his boutique. Reynolds noted that while sales were up throughout the weekend, the biggest boon the festival provided was exposure for visitors new to downtown Los Altos.
“It was excellent,” he said. “There were several hundred people we encountered and talked with throughout the festival.”
Steve Oberhauser, manager of the European Cobblery at 201 First St., said he used the festival weekend to clear his corner store of overstocked items by hosting a sidewalk sale.
“The Arts & Wine Festival was really good for us,” he said, noting that he too experienced an uptick in sales and exposure from the event. “Our corner location (at State and First streets) is really good, too. We had people funneling into our location all weekend.”
Some merchants said the festival seemed similar to past years. Spot Pizza manager Jeff Gilmartin told the Town Crier that his eatery “saw a lot of foot traffic, which is always nice.” But he was hard-pressed to judge whether the crowd was larger than in previous years.
“We went through a lot of slices – a lot of grab-and-go food,” he said. “All in all, it went pretty smoothly … business as usual, as far as the (festival) goes.”
Dunaway said that even if some merchants didn’t see immediate results from the festival weekend, the event should pay off for them in the long run. Festival proceeds benefit LAVA members throughout the year in the form of advertising to encourage shoppers to visit downtown during the holiday season and other LAVA-sponsored events like the Holiday Stroll.
Oberhauser agreed, noting that the festival is the city’s most prominent chance to be discovered by thousands of visitors on one weekend.
“How often do you see this many people in downtown Los Altos?” he asked with a grin. “Two days per year – with this festival.”