Art & Wine Festival Success

Posted on July 12, 2012 by  
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Over the 33 years of its existence, the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival has grown from a small summer festival to one of the largest on the Peninsula.

It began in 1979 when a group of merchants and business owners in downtown Los Altos decided the city needed a popular summer festival to introduce people to the downtown area. The first festival was held in the city’s South Parking Plaza July 19 and 20, 1980. There were 150 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees.

By 1983, Main and State streets were closed to accommodate the event. By 1985, the number of exhibitors doubled. In 1993, festival attendance topped 100,000, and since 1997, it has attracted more than 150,000 to downtown Los Altos each summer.

Today, the festival encompasses all of downtown Los Altos. Of the more than 1,000 artists and craftspeople who apply each year, fewer than 400 meet the exacting criteria for selection and the opportunity to showcase their work.

The festival has ranked among the top 75 summer festivals in the nation for its quality of exhibitors. Bay Area Parent Magazine has rated the festival “Best of the Best.”

The more than 400 volunteers who keep the event running in an efficient and orderly manner heavily influence the festival’s character. Volunteers range from Fortune 500 executives to local students and grandmas and grandpas, giving the festival a friendly, community-oriented flavor. Organizers strive to personalize the festival and make it a celebration where friends and family can bond.

The Linden Tree Books Kids Stage, launched in the early 1990s, has expanded into the popular Family Fun Zone, a separate venue featuring entertainment geared exclusively to children.

For the past 19 years, the festival has included an array of international foods and a full two-day program of free music and entertainment. Festival organizers have added a free bike valet and shuttles between the parking lot at Los Altos High School and the entrance to the festival.

The Los Altos Village Association (LAVA), known as the only downtown association to stage an art and wine festival without a professional production staff, organizes the festival. LAVA is also the only such association with entirely volunteer membership. Proceeds benefit nonprofit groups and help beautify, promote and energize the downtown Los Altos village.

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Bus Barn’s New Season

Posted on July 5, 2012 by  
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Bus Barn Stage Company has announced its 17th season, slated September 2012 through June 2013 in Los Altos.

• “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” It features music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin. The regional spelling bee becomes a place of acceptance for a group of socially awkward misfits in the throes of puberty in the musical comedy. Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Book, “Bee” is a tale of overachievers’ angst and celebrates the triumph of doing the best you can. “Bee” runs Sept. 6 through Oct. 6.

• “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” George Bailey and his idyllic hometown of Bedford Falls come to life onstage re-created as a program from the golden age of radio, the 1940s. Like the movie, “Life” offers upbeat Christmas entertainment with a happy ending. This story, however, is told by five actors and a sound-effects man that evokes the era when the screenplay was written. Adapted by Joe Landry from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra and Jo Swerling, “Life” runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 22.

• “On Golden Pond.” Ernest Thompson’s comedy is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who return each summer to their home on Golden Pond. As they face their twilight years, they peer into the cracks of their well-worn, playful relationship. Daughter Chelsea makes a long-delayed appearance with a potential husband and stepson, renewing the couple’s energy and giving them courage to contemplate their waning time together. “Pond” runs Jan. 24 through Feb. 17.

• “The House of Blue Leaves.” John Guare’s comedy centers on Artie Shaughnessy, a songwriter with visions of glory. Amidst the frenzy of galloping nuns and a homicidal son awaiting the Pope’s visit, his toxic mistress Bunny and his mentally meandering wife Bananas, Artie plots to change his destiny. He contacts his old school chum, now a big-time movie producer, in a desperate attempt at stardom. “Leaves” is a comedy about America’s obsession with celebrity and the price some people will pay to get it. Winner of the 1971 Critics Award and the Obie Award for Best American Play, “Leaves” runs April 11 through May 5.

• “Avenue Q.” The Broadway hit won the Tony “Triple Crown” – Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book in 2003. Recent college graduate Princeton rents a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the neighbors are nice, it’s clear this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his newfound friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life. “Avenue Q” is rated R for language and subject matter. Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx wrote the music and lyrics and Jeff Whitty penned the book. “Q” runs May 23 through June 16.

Shows are held Wednesdays through Sundays at the Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

For tickets, call 941-0551 or visit