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September 25, 2021

Refreshing Flavors at Scotts Valley Art, Wine & Beer Fest

During an aerial performance, Alana Del Chiaro, 11, had a chance to show off the hoop skills she’d been practicing over the past three weeks.

“It’s kind of scary,” she said after her performance. “It was fun.”

Somala, her mom, beamed, as hundreds of people milled about at the Scotts Valley Art, Beer and Wine Festival on Aug. 21.

“I was proud of her,” she said. “She practiced a lot.”

Were there nerves involved? Yes. But, mom says, “She pushed through it.”

Local officials described the two-day event—back after being canceled because of Covid-19—as a massive success. Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Danny Reber estimated around 17,000 people took part.

“It’s the highest attendance we’ve ever had,” he said, bragging about his daughter winning a dog trick contest on Sunday. “Seeing the joy out there is what it’s all about.”

Andrea Konrad, the membership director for Think Local First, meandered around the grounds, alongside Shaz Roth, the president and CEO of the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce, drinks in hand.

They bumped into Kathy Skirmont, a Los Gatos resident who’d joined forces with her fellow cosplayers in the Bay Area chapter of the Rebel Legion costume group, an international Star Wars costuming organization.

“We’re a worldwide club,” she explained.

Soquel resident Lisa Ramirez, 54, looked on as her granddaughter Llynia Spinner, 6, was mesmerized by the Star Wars characters, including a lifesize R2-D2.

Actually, the droid was being controlled remotely by 50-year-old Boulder Creek wiz “Lego” Steve Mead.

“I built him from scratch,” he said, adding he’s pleased with how event organizers were able to bring everyone together. “I think they’re doing a great job.”

 

Over at the 37th Parallel Wines booth, Les Wright, the owner, poured Marina resident Christine Chalfant, 53, a glass of his 2016 Syrah.

“It has more of a robust flavor,” she said, “almost like a black cherry, to me.”

And to her, that was a good thing.

“This is amazing, amazing, amazing wine,” she said, savoring an opportunity to enjoy an adult beverage in a setting that hasn’t existed during the pandemic months of lockdown. “So happy.”

Wright says an outdoor festival is quite appropriate for a Covid-involved world.

“A park setting works really well for this kind of thing,” he said. “What’s great is that people come back the next year and say how much they liked the wine from the year before.”

The booths were set up in a grid across Siltanen Park. And just a few rows over stood Laura Rajner painting on an old surfboard core. She’s been coming up from Oceanside with her husband, Jimmy, for years to promote their Jimmy Romo’s Coastal Creations works.

“It takes a million years to break down a surfboard,” she explained, “because they’re made of fiberglass and foam.”

Ironically, she paints some to look like wooden ones. And the resemblance is uncanny.

“They treat us great,” she said of the artist relations element of the gathering. “We have a good following here.”

Kirk Nielsen, a 73-year-old from San Jose, came down to participate in the Cops n’ Rodders car show, in support of the Scotts Valley Police Department.

The inventive fellow showed off a bicycle contraption he made that spewed steam from its belly. He said a few Burning Man-type folks expressed interest in his machines, a piece of intel he appeared quite tickled by.

It was the fourth year Kristi Peterson, of KP Designs, had shown her stuff at the Scotts Valley show. In the past, that’s included belt buckles and crafts.

These days, she’s all about creating stark ridges rising from canvas—something, she says, sets her apart from the “dirty pour” technique employed by many contemporaries.

“I’m trying to get away from that, because it’s everywhere right now,” she said. “I love texture.”

She usually does quite well at the festival, she says.

“You never come back (to an art show) unless you do,” she said.

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