The 36th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be as big as ever - filled with an array of arts, crafts and children’s activities, a bevy of beverages - including local wines - and food galore.
The festival has grown considerably since it began in 1979 as a small crafts fair located in a single parking plaza. The Los Altos Village Association (LAVA) - a not-for-profit organization comprising downtown merchants and property owners - organized the first festival as a way to raise funds for events and programs promoting the downtown business district.
Fast forward 36 years and the festival has grown to more than 375 arts and craft booths, two food courts, three stages offering live music and entertainment and a free dance concert scheduled 6 p.m. Saturday. The festival’s Family Fun Zone is a popular part of the event, offering games, rides and crafts for children of all ages.
Assistance from many organizations and businesses is crucial to the success of the event, according to LAVA Executive Director Nancy Dunaway, who is particularly grateful for the ongoing support of Main Stage sponsor and local retailer Walgreens. This is the 13th year that Walgreens has been on board as a sponsor. The Walgreens booth is located at the intersection of Main and State streets during the festival.
The Arts and Wine Committee partnered with two organizations in new ways this year.
The San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation hosts a "Social Robot" corner in Plaza 6, next to the Costume Bank at 169 State St. Stop by to speak with, dress and command a robot. The Social Robot exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Bob Grimm, a Tech Museum board member who lived much of his life in Los Altos.
Ride-sharing company Lyft offers $20 off a ride from the festival for new Lyft customers who use the special Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival code. Those who purchase an official Arts & Wine Festival glass receive a card with more information.
Those driving to the festival are encouraged to park at Los Altos High School, 201 Almond Ave., and take the free shuttle to and from the festival. Provided by Corinthian Transportation Services, the shuttle drops off riders at Edith Avenue, next to the shaded Village Park, and picks them up there as well.
Dunaway noted that she and other festival organizers appreciate the support and involvement of other groups and organizations, including the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce, the Los Altos Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club of Los Altos. Members of GreenTown Los Altos once again staff the free Bike and Stroller Valet Parking area, located directly across from the Family Fun Zone on Third Street. Last year, they parked more than 450 bikes and strollers.
Since 2006, Pacific Fine Arts of Pine Grove has selected the nearly 400 artisans and craftspeople offering a wide variety artwork, jewelry, crafts and creativity during the festival. Dana and Troy Hale-Mounier, owners of Pacific Fine Arts, have worked extensively with the Arts and Wine Committee to provide a premier selection and the best and brightest the festival world has to offer to Los Altos every year, according to Dunaway.
This year's annual festival features offerings from six boutique wineries from the Bay Area, along with four beer trucks serving Bud Light, Stella Artois, Shock Top, Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter and Gordon Biersch’s Marzen.
Purchase a glass at one of four booths and make sure to wear the provided proof-of-drinking-age wristband while at the festival. Those who leave but plan on returning later that day or the next are asked not to remove their wristbands and to bring their beer mug or wine glasses back as well - alcohol will be poured only in authentic festival glassware.
Saturday’s 6 p.m. dance concert, hosted by LAVA on the Walgreens Main Stage in Central Plaza, features Sage for the fourth consecutive year.
"It’s a great way to end a fun day at the festival," said Dunaway, who recommended that concertgoers enjoy dinner from the many food vendors or downtown restaurants.
Proceeds from the festival support programs, events, advertising and other efforts LAVA undertakes throughout the year 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 promote the downtown triangle of Los Altos as a great 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 up with friends, visit with family or do your everyday errands and shopping," she said.
The festival is scheduled to run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information on the Los Altos Village Association and the 36th annual Arts & Wine Festival, call 949-5282 or visit downtownlosaltos.org.