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May 24-31, 2006

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Eat, Drink and be Merry

Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival enthusiasts are determined to have a good time despite new regulations

By Leyna Krow

If it weren't for the single stop sign in the middle of town, motorists traveling along Highway 9 would have little need to take notice of tiny Boulder Creek. But come Memorial Day weekend, there will be plenty of reasons to stop aside from the obligatory red sign. The Annual Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival is back for its 17th consecutive year, promising food, fun and a taste of mountain culture for the whole family.

"It's a major fundraiser for our little town," says festival coordinator Gary Walker. "We use the money that we raise from the event to do things like pay for our local garbage service, put up Christmas lights downtown during Christmas, and put on all the other community events we do throughout the year." According to Walker, the art, wine and music festival typically draws between 4,000 and 5,000 people over the course of the three-day weekend, temporarily doubling the population of Boulder Creek.

This year, the festival will feature a juried show of fine artists as well as the work of local craftspeople, plus live music by several Monterey Bay area bands. Headlining on the main stage are former Bo Diddley band mate Lady Bo and the BC Horns as well as the ever popular Red Beans and Rice. There will also be face painters, jugglers, a bounce house and other family-friendly acts and games to amuse and delight even the youngest of festival fans.

As for the wine part of the Art, Wine and Music Festival, it's a bit tricky this year. In previous years, festivalgoers have been free to sample wine as they meander from booth to booth around downtown Boulder Creek. However, following a decree from Caltrans insisting that alcohol cannot be served along the highway, festival planners have had to scramble to comply with the mandate and still put on an event that people will want to attend.

For its decision, Caltrans cites safety concerns and general common sense that booze and a major highway are probably a bad mix, although, according to Walker, "There has never had an incident in all the years of the event. We've done everything exactly to code and have never had a problem."

But fear not, those attending the Boulder Creek Art, Wine, and Music Festival will still have a chance to sample wines from over 12 local mountain wineries as well as the Boulder Creek Brewery from the comfort of festival-sanctioned wine and beer gardens. These centrally located drinking stations will provide wine enthusiasts with safe and comfortable places to sip. Although it is no longer possible to enjoy all aspects at the same time, prompting some to jokingly refer to this year's event as the art, music or wine festival, organizers are confident that attendance numbers for the festival will remain high.

"It's still going to be a wonderful day in the mountains," insists Walker. "This event has really been the keystone of bringing people to Boulder Creek for the past 17 years, and I don't think that's going to change."

The Boulder Creek Art Wine and Music Festival, Downtown Boulder Creek, Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday-Monday, May 27-29, 11am-6pm. For more information, call 831.338.2578. The festival is free to all.

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