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Published September 7th, 2016
More on Tap at Art & Wine in '16
The always-popular Lafayette Art & Wine Festival will be bigger this year, offering more bands, vendors and an additional Kids Zone. Photos Gint Federas

Now in its 21st year, the Lafayette Art, Wine and Music Festival, which takes place annually in downtown Lafayette on the third weekend of September, will be
bigger than ever as it has been extended to include the eastbound side of Mt.
Diablo Boulevard all the way up to Moraga Road.
This annual event, which is consistently voted one of the East Bay's top festivals, draws roughly 80,000 visitors from all over the bay during the weekend, with over 260 artist booths, plus two kid zones, four live stages, food and one of the largest selections of wine, beer and ale of any San Francisco Bay Area festivals. Entry to the festival and access to the stages remains free, although patrons pay for drink tickets and food.
Proceeds support the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's many programs and others, including Lafayette Partners in Education (LPIE) and local nonprofits. Jay Lifson, the chamber's executive director, spearheads the event.
As City Manager Steve Falk says, "We're fortunate to have such a great Chamber of Commerce in Lafayette. Jay Lifson and his small crew do an amazing job putting on this fun and safe event for all to enjoy."
But despite its growth to one of the largest annual festivals in Contra Costa County, it remains very much a local, community-based event strongly featuring local talent, wines, foods, artists and musicians and relying heavily on local volunteers.
The festival has four stages with continuous music - all free - featuring local musicians and bands, including many returning favorites such as Bob Athayde and Friends, The Spazmatics and many others. Among the new local talent this year will be The Ripplers, featuring local high school teacher Tom Duffy.
"I try to have a mix of bands that are crowd favorites (many of which have been performing for several years) and new bands that I feel will appeal to our guests," says one of the event chairs, Brian Aiello. "I think it's important to have both - people enjoy the familiar and will come to the festival with friends to see a favorite performer year after year; but presenting new bands that have not performed in the area keeps things fresh."
Most people recognize the festival is the place to go for art, but be sure to check out the "Local Artist Alley," located on Lafayette Circle, featuring fine artists from Lafayette, Orinda and Moraga.
In addition to the many locally grown wines and beers and the more than 20 of Lafayette's top restaurants found within the festival, this year there will be many other festival food vendors and local food trucks. Nancy Clark is a returning vendor who owns Street Dogs, a hot dog food truck.
"We have been doing the Lafayette Art & Wine Festival for many years and we always look forward to coming back," she says. "People are so friendly and they come from all over the Bay Area. There is so much to do and see there - art, wine, food, music and just enjoying the day in beautiful downtown Lafayette!"
While the music, art, food and wine appeal to the adults, for the children it is the Kids' Zone, provided by Back Yard Carnivals, and a second Kids' Zone has been added. This year's new area on Mount Diablo will include two hamster ball pools and a gold mining game. The Kids' Zone in Fiesta Square will include a 90-foot slide this year.
The Kids' Stage will feature performances from the students of the Lamorinda Theater Academy. The schedule for these performances and for all the musical line-up is available on the official Art & Wine festival website.
Not publicized but very much local and into the fun spirit of the whole event, Mark Shaw, an 18-year veteran Lafayette real estate broker who happens to have a talent and passion for entertaining, spends his Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30-8 p.m. of the festival weekend chauffeuring restaurant-goers in the downtown area within the festival footprint. He is the one dressed as Frank Sinatra, driving a six-seater golf cart, known as the hospitality shuttle cart, serenading his passengers. This will be his third year doing it. He says that it is a big hit especially with the kids. Shaw says he enjoys, "Meeting new people, making more friends and getting to know the community."
And it is all about community. In talking to the many people it takes to put on a festival of this magnitude, it quickly becomes apparent that they depend heavily on a huge array of volunteers. But even beyond that Aiello says, "The commitment by the volunteers is great, but there is also a deep desire to make this a great event. I really don't know how the committee (about 40 people) evolved into such a caring group. It's so much more than a group of people that meet every once in a while to put on a show. We truly enjoy seeing, interacting with and encouraging each other. Quite a phenomenon." Volunteers are still needed, he said.
The 2016 Lafayette Art & Wine Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, in downtown Lafayette.
Lifson said of his favorite part of the festival: "Friday night we close the streets and build a village. At sunrise on Saturday, like magic the downtown has transformed into a charming street scene filled with amazing art and crafts. Monday morning, the streets are back to normal as if nothing ever happened. Love Lafayette but leave only your footprints!"
To volunteer or to find specific schedules and more information - including details of the sweepstakes prize, JetSuiteX tickets and the beautiful, locally handcrafted one-of-a-kind teardrop trailer raffle prize provided by the Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary Club - go to the official website www.lafayettefestival.com.

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