The Arts and Wine Festival Is Back, and Better Than Ever

Santa Clara’s Arts and Wine Festival is back after a two-year COVID hiatus and was a massive Welcome party for the 20,000 people who arrived on September 17 and 18. Even open and closed showers on Sundays could not break their spirits.

“It brings us [City staff] Parks & Rec Manager Kim Castro said, “It’s nice that everyone is coming to the park and enjoying the day.”

There was lots of delightful entertainment, many delicious treats including fruit, olives and cheese from the Sister Cities to complement the wine tasting, and of course extensive beer and wine offerings from both national and local brewers.

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But the biggest draw was the wide variety of interesting vendors. Only handmade crafts and artworks are allowed, and the City aims for originality and variety in offerings.

Tony Zhao was there with his architectural, 3D pop-up cards, all made by his family in San Mateo. Zhou explained that he learned this art from his father, who made stencils for Chinese New Year decorations and opened the family business, Holiday Pop Cards, in 2015. Zhao reported that things are going well and he plans to come back next year.

On Linda’s Obsession, Linda Fussell agreed that things are going well this year.

“Many people are starving to get back to normal,” Fussell said.

Fussell’s trademark products are jewel-like bead spiders and hermit crabs.

“This is what happens when a crochet goes bad,” she laughed, “so now I make wire and beads.”

At Wildflower Apothecary, Santa Clara resident Denise Stovall presented her decorative mini-gardens and dried flower arrangements in pumpkins and gourds. The plants grow in moss glued to the pumpkin, which will last for months. Plants can be transplanted into pots when the squash has softened.

Shopping was not the only entertainment available. The live music brought many people to dance, including Santa Clara resident Erica Rosero and her husband, Charlie Davis, who turned on the fantastic light in the pavilion.

“We come to the Arts and Wine Festival every year,” Rosero said. “I am happy to be back again after COVID.”

40 Years of Sunshine (Mostly) and Good Times

This year’s Santa Clara Arts and Wine Festival was not only the first post-COVID festival, but also the 40th anniversary of the event, rooted in the city’s now-defunct Festival Days.

“It’s that time of year again,” wrote the Santa Clara Sun in its September 23, 1981 issue. “The Santa Clara Festival Days continues with three weeks of crafts and competitions that will be limited to the 36th annual Parade of Champions on October 4th.”

It also featured a football game billed as “Super Bowl IV of Santa Clara” in 1981 between the Santa Clara County Sheriffs’ “Deputy Dawgs” and the “Police Piglets” from the Santa Clara Police Department.

In 1982, the art fair ceased to be an ancillary part of the Festival Days and merely a prelude to the parade.

“For the first time this year, Festival Days events will flood Santa Clara Central Park with a wine and art fair,” the Santa Clara Sun wrote in its September 29, 1982 issue. “Wines from Kirigin Cellars, Gugliemo Family Winery, Novitiate Winery and Mirassou will be available along with Festival Days commemorative glasses.”

The festival was named “3. It received a revised date of birth when it was billed as the “Annual Festival of Arts, Wines”. The event that year included a book signed by author Peter Beagle (the last unicorn), A petting zoo with performances by the Sexy Senior Uke band and a camel.

By 1984, the festival tradition was well established.

“Visitors of Santa Clara’s fourth annual Arts and Wine Festival will enjoy the music of jazz musicians and easy rock bands as they stroll through Central Park’s lake and pavilion areas to sample wines and view exhibits from more than 150 artists,” said the Santa Clara Sun. . September 26, 1984 edition.

However, not every festival was successful.

In September 1989, Santa Clara Valley Weekly wrote, “Rain Reduces Wine and Arts Festival Attendance,” when estimates dropped 50%—the legendary Santa Clara Cleo Stuckrath gave an account of overeating in her “Cleo’s Corner” column. (Given Cleo’s extraordinary community activities, he no doubt made sure they all found a useful home.)

Fortunately, little rain fell for the ever-popular event. According to Parks & Rec manager Castro, although Sunday’s downpour slowed turnout this year, many vendors reported selling more in one day than they did at two-day festivals.

The Hardworking Team Makes It Possible

Much of the Parks & Rec department is concerned with making the festival a success as it is.

“They worked on logistics and operations for 10 months and 80 staff members worked on the event itself,” Castro said.

But the hard-working team of the Parks & Rec department isn’t sitting on its laurels. In a few weeks they will start working for the 2023 Festival.

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