Bo Knows Blues: Lady Bo headlines the Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival.
Calling All Eclectic Free Spirits
This weekend's Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival is right up your alley
By Leah Bartos
Looking to get away from the bombardment of Memorial Day car dealership and department store sales or the ubiquitous drunken neighbors' barbecue? Well, you're not alone. May 26-28, wine and culture connoisseurs will flock to the Santa Cruz Mountains for the annual Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival. For 18 consecutive years, the mountain town of Boulder Creek has been host to the festival, offering a serene escape from the typical Memorial Day activities. Just 14 miles outside Santa Cruz, spending an afternoon with a crisp glass of pinot grigio strolling along the redwood-engulfed Highway 9 can feel worlds away.
This year will be the first time that traffic will be redirected off of the main highway, allowing attendees to roam freely through the festival with their rosÚs and syrahs. Last year, due to stricter regulations, the alcohol was confined to separate areas. Gary Walker, director of the festival, is particularly excited about the return of a free-spirited atmosphere. "When you're forced to be in those alcohol pens--when you're roped off--it just changes the flavor," Walker says.
Organizers are expecting crowds as large as 20,000 to attend the festival in a town with a population just over 4,000. Last year, the event drew more than 15,000 people to the funky mountain town.
The weekend-long event, produced by the Boulder Creek Business Association, will feature 11 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries, including such local favorites as Bonny Doon Vineyard, Zayante Vineyard and Bargetto Winery.
"There's a really good cross-section of wines. There's something for everyone," says Renee Sindt, winery coordinator for the festival. Sindt says that while many festivals tend to feature only heavy wines, the Art, Wine and Music Festival is committed to catering to a crowd with a range of tastes and expertise in wine.
The event will also feature continuous live music performances from a range of genres, including Lady Bo (R&B), Drifting Compass (folk rock), AstroCasters (pop rock), DubScene (reggae), Phat Chants (world rock) and the Gator Alley Band (Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band). The outdoor festival will also include more than 200 vendors, featuring fine arts and crafts, antiques, vintage clothing and collectables. In addition, organizers hope to highlight local Boulder Creek retailers and restaurants during the festival.
This year's event will also see the return of the "Juried Fine Arts Row," which will include work of local artisans selected by five professional artists and will be displayed along Highway 9 from Big Basin Way to Forest Street. Festival attendees can expect 10 international food booths and several nonprofit, environmental and political organizations to be in attendance as well.
Walker says that although some would prefer that all the vendors were local, he has observed that attendees appreciate the diverse group of artisans and merchants. "It's very Boulder Creek to have it eclectically mixed."
The 18th Annual Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival takes place Saturday-Monday (May 26-28), noon-6pm in Downtown Boulder Creek. Admission is free.
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