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[whitespace] Red Beans & Rice Spice Boys: Red Beans & Rice will provide a spicy musical backdrop at this weekend's Boulder Creek Art & Wine Festival.

© Ken Cook

The Boulder Creek Art & Wine Festival brings the art of summertime to the mountains

By Karen Reardanz

THE ANCIENTS may have been able to predict the changing the seasons by reading the sun or studying the flora and fauna, but in Santa Cruz County the best way to forecast the coming summer months is with the onslaught of warm-weather festivals. Boulder Creek has been in on this proliferating act for the past decade, and this Memorial Day weekend sees the mountain town closing off its stretch of the long and winding Highway 9 to celebrate the finer things in life.

Bringing together the best in local art, food and wine, this year's Boulder Creek Art & Wine Festival takes a decidedly international turn, with world influences permeating every craft booth and food vendor lining the street.

Yes, it will be a weekend full of indulgence, beginning with a culinary lineup that's as eclectic as any good festival food offerings should be: from Scopazzi's sassy Italian bites and Eagle Dancer's Native American delicacies (including his Indian fry bread, rumored to be delectable) to the sweet and tangy chicken or pork skewers grilled up by festival staples Thai Stick, the scorched ears of Moon River Corn Company's barbecued corn and the sweet crêpes from Lemon Crêperie. Countless other vendors will be on hand, whipping up everything from coffee frappés to shaved ice to Philly cheesesteaks.

One works up quite a thirst sampling such treats, and to quench parched throats, a host of area vintners will pour their wines. Filling the commemorative wineglasses of thirsty attendees will be Alghren, Byington, Roudon Smith, Fortino, Cooper Garrod, Savannah Channel, Storrs, Devlin, Stone Mountain Champagne, Zayante and Las Cerazas Vineyard, who will offer full-bodied tastings.

All this talk of exotic eats and fine wines is not to imply that this summer Boulder Creek Art & Wine fest is not a family affair, and fittingly, magicians, mimes, face painters and balloon artists (like Mr. Twister, Mr. Miraculous and Circus of the World) will entertain children with acts of full of mystery and chuckles. More than 200 vendors will decorate the streets, some with hand-crafted artwork, clothing and collectibles, others with political and environmental information.

And of course, no self-respecting art and wine festival would be complete without a stage full of musicians, and Boulder Creek features plenty. Whether it's the blues of Lady Bo, the Cajun soul of Crawdaddy, the Modern Gypsies' Latin beats, the spicy mix of Red Beans & Rice or the understated sounds of Steve Czarnecki's Jazz Quintet, there's something for all tastes.

Admission to this cultural fête is free, and for safety reasons, no cans, bottles, coolers or dogs will be allowed--and slathering on the sunscreen is highly recommended.

The Boulder Creek Art & Wine Festival will be held May 29-31 (11am-6pm) in downtown Boulder Creek. For more info, call 338-7099.

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From the May 26-June 2, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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