The streets of downtown Los Altos flooded with vendors, shoppers and tents of various shapes and sizes at the 43rd Los Altos Art and Wine Festival last weekend.
The longstanding Los Altos tradition — a family outing for many — returned to full swing, boasting roughly 60,000 attendees and 200 artists after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand because people could not do things for so many months,” Village Association organizer Shannon Geary said. “Once you actually start offering activities to people they’re really excited to come out and do fun things.”
The festival also included a Hyperspace kids area and food stands of various cuisines, including hot dogs, Mediterranean wraps and Chinese salads from Chef Chu’s. The event was mainly organized by Pacific Fine Arts, which worked with the artists, and Village Association, which was responsible for managing the wineries and breweries.
According to Geary and artist Jeff Owens, events like the festival are vital for vendors to promote themselves and their products. Owens, who has created art since 2007, said he relies on events like these to market himself and his art to the public.
“I come out here not only to sell art but to show [my pieces],” Owens said. “People who have never seen me before need to know that I’m here. Even if I don’t make a fortune, which everybody out here wants to do, it’s always after.”
The event also gives local artists a chance to connect with each other.
“I think that ultimately [the group of artists in the Pacific Fine Arts] does turn into a community,” glassworker Susan Berger said. “We do keep running into each other and chit-chatting off to the side … I know other fusers and glassworkers here at the festival who I’ve done other shows or classes with.
Brian Gleser, a member of the family-run business Harmony Tie-Dyes, said he remembers his family’s involvement with the festival since the early 1980s.
“People have been coming back to us for generations,” Gleser said. “Today, a mom came back with a onesie she had from when she was a kid, and she’s buying one for her baby now. That’s the kind of generational history we have.”
And despite COVID-19 setbacks and frustrating delays, it seems that the Los Altos community will continue its support of the festival, said Los Altos resident Jamie Pollano.
“Los Altos is a really tight-knit community,” Pollano said. “I’m very excited, Los Altos needs this … I think it’s important to have the community come out to support the vendors and the stores that are open. Whatever we can do to support the community, everybody does.”