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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