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In Rock We Trust: Alterna-girl band Trusting Lucy plays Boulder Creek's Memorial Day fest on Saturday afternoon.

Big Tree Shindig

The Boulder Creek Art & Wine festival delivers the goods in the redwoods

By Craig Gawlick

When the first Memorial Day was observed in 1866, it was a day to honor dead soldiers. Perhaps there were picnics with moonshine, precursors of the beer-soaked barbecues of today, and new vaudeville shows presaging the big, loud summer movies that open this weekend every year. But along the way, something may have been lost in translation. Perhaps the day has shifted to memorialize the youthful anticipation of summer, and what better way to indulge that than to wander around drinking wine, listening to music and scoping out art?

The Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival temporarily triples the size of the town, with an estimated 15,000 people trekking to the mountains for some part of the three-day-long festival. One of the best things to happen last year will continue this year as traffic is rerouted through the neighborhoods of Boulder Creek. This allows patrons to wander around, adult beverage in hand, and take in the sights and sounds.

Festival director Gary Walker notes that because the festival can close Highway 9 through town for the weekend, "We could get around the beer garden law--it just makes the whole thing flow much nicer."

Something else that sets this festival apart from many others in the area is the surroundings. "This is the only event like it in the redwoods--it's not in a park or a downtown setting," which is a reason at least half of the attendees are from the other side of the hill, in Santa Clara County. "People just want to leave the city behind," Walker says.

The festival will feature not only a juried fine arts show, but also the work of local craftspeople. According to Walker, 80 percent of artisans return to Boulder Creek each Memorial Day, both because of the esteem in which the festival is held and because patrons request their return. Not only can items that were made right here in Boulder Creek be bought but also higher-end pieces from Bali, India and Colombia.

As for the music part of the weekend, the lineup is packed, per usual. Headlining Sunday on the main stage will be former Bo Diddley band mate Lady Bo, a regular at the festival and a local resident to boot. Leading up to her performance will be the Gator Alley Band, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute group. Saturday sees artists Trusting Lucy and DubScene taking the stage. Music continues Monday and throughout the weekend, and one of the special aspects of the festival is that most of the bands are from the area or have members connected to the area.

Last, but certainly not least, the wine and beer will flow from 11 local wineries and local breweries, great for washing down whatever local or international food one might be noshing on. There will also be face painters, henna tattoos and a rock-climbing wall for those inclined to indulge in a family-oriented activities.

Walker is hoping the gas crunch everyone is feeling will translate to another successful year. He suggests that instead of driving to Tahoe or Napa to celebrate Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer, why not save some money experience a local favorite, steeped in the redwoods?

THE BOULDER CREEK ART, WINE AND MUSIC FESTIVAL takes place Saturday-Monday, May 24-26, noon-6pm in downtown Boulder Creek. For more information, call 831.338.2578. Festival is free to all.

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