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Record-High Attendance on First Day of Mountain View Art & Wine Festival

The nice weather and usually good vibe at the annual festival brings out shoppers, families and revelers on Saturday; festival continues today 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Under clear blue skies and cool breezy temperatures, the 41st annual Mountain View Art & Wine Festival got off to a great start with expected record-high attendance Saturday, according to organizers.

"We love Mountain View," said volunteer Marilyn Ritter about working this weekend at the popular event along Castro Street between El Camino Real and Evelyn Avenue. "We love supporting the local businesses."

Ritter has been a volunteer since 2006. On Saturday she did general volunteer work and today, Sunday, she will be an area captain as an ambassador for the the organization that puts the festival together. Ritter--a chamber member--owns Creation Ground Media, a video production company.

The festival is the chamber's biggest fundraiser of the year and George Cohn, another volunteer, said supporting the event is crucial for it to continue to be successful since chamber is lifeblood of the business community.

Oscar Garcia, president of the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, predicted the event this year will surpass last year's attendance. By 3 p.m., it was on its way to sell out of beer and wine glasses at a rate faster than in 2011.

Expecting larger crowds, this year the chamber ordered 1,000 more glasses than last year, Garcia said.

Garcia also said local artists with booths during the festival had expressed their gratitude for the crowds, which translated into bigger sales. One woman, who is showing her wares for the first time this year, had sold $2,000 to just one customer on Saturday, he said.

Due to the festival's location, it draws people from as far north as San Francisco and as far south as Morgan Hill and across the Bay to cities like Fremont and Hayward, Garcia noted.

Over the two-day event, about 150,000 people will visit the festival, Garcia added.

New this year is an increase in food vendors, from the normal 25 to 29. The offerings ranged from kettle corn, polish dogs, turkey legs, Indian and Thai food and tamales.

Austin, Texas-based Carlo Guadagno, owner of KlapnKlip soy candles and one of the 600 craftmakers with a business booth, said the Mountain View festival was one of the most important ones he participates in each year to help his business make a profit. He said the same company that runs the Mountain View festival also runs the Fremont, Sunnyvale and Los Gatos arts and wine festivals.

The chamber, which has been in operation for more than 60 years, raises more than $200,000 from the event, which helps fund programs like , and business conferences and events.

Beneficiaries include the , which raises money by working the local parking lots, making about $7,500 over the weekend, Garcia said.

"This is a community celebration event," Garcia said. "We hope people will come down, enjoy themselves and bring their cash and credit cards."

Attracting the crowds was the musical stage located next to City Hall, which will feature a total of 13 bands this year, including the Latin band Ruckatan.

New attractions in the children's area this year include bungee chord jumping.

Festival producer Tim Beeman raved about a great start Saturday due to the perfect weather.

"It's been a rousing start and we expect to have a huge weekend," Beeman said. "This festival is beloved. It's really one of the jewel art and wine festivals in the Bay Area. This is the cream of the crop."

"What an impressive effort this is by the chamber of commerce to really pull this whole thing together. It's a tremendous amount of work."

SSullivan September 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
This festival is always fun and has such a great atmosphere, hope anyone who reads this was able to make it down and enjoy themselves at the festival!
Claudia Cruz (Editor) September 11, 2012 at 05:52 PM
It is a great event definitely enhanced by the great participation of the community and visiting public. Very fun to people watch and see all the great art!
richard anderson September 12, 2012 at 12:39 AM
One of the abstract artists there had some really unique paintings, luckily I grabbed his card. I hope he returns next year. I'd be very interested to see what he does between now and then. His website is www.tandaregallery.com, really cool art!
Richard September 12, 2012 at 04:13 PM
That Latin band on Sunday -- RUCKATAN -- they were incredible! We couldn't stop dancing.

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