Vintage Fest returns
ONE OF THE POPULAR EVENTS at the Vintage Festival is the Firefighter Water Fight on Spain Street on Saturday.
Few Valley events evoke as much nostalgia as the Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival, which will be celebrated for the 115th time this weekend. Thanks to an influx of new board members, the event has gotten a slight makeover, including the introduction of a nighttime parade.
“We really want to make it a destination event,” said Robert Friedman, one of the new board members who is lending his time and talents to make the festival a success.
Boardmember Dean Zellers suggested the parade, which had seen a decline in entries over recent years, could use a fresh take. The board decided a Saturday evening parade, in which floats could light up the night, would be a welcomed addition to the festival lineup. With the theme “Get Your Glow On” at least 30 entries will make their way through the shortened route down First Street East, across Spain Street and up First Street West at 8 p.m.
“People can still sign up for the parade until noon on Saturday,” Friedman said. The cost to join is $50 for commercial entries, $25 for non-commercial entries, with prizes awarded in different categories.
But the festive weekend begins tonight, Friday, with the Opening Night Gala, where more than 50 wineries will pour samples while more than a dozen Valley food purveyors offer small-bite tastes in the historic Barracks. Bay Area pop band Wonderbread 5 will keep the crowd entertained. Prices range from $85 for a single ticket to $199 for a couple package that includes two tickets, two event T-shirts and a poster.
On Saturday and Sunday, the Plaza is the place to be with activities every hour, ranging from the tasting pavilion filled with wines and beers to sampling live music on two different stages. The popular Firefighters Water Fight can be seen at 11 a.m. on Saturday, when the reigning champs from Glen Ellen try to hold off crews from Sonoma, Schell-Vista and Sonoma County.
The grape stomp competitions are getting added emphasis this year. The nonprofit Vintage Festival board added a commercial grape stomp, where businesses can compete against each other for trophies. To participate each business must pay $250, but the top four teams get to decide which nonprofits will benefit from the event.
“The first place team will get to designate 40 percent of the funds,” Friedman said, adding that as of Wednesday 10 teams had signed on. “We’ll let more teams come sign up at the event if they want.”
The commercial event takes place at noon on Sunday, while the regular grape stomps are at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. New this year, many of the events that used to be free now have fees, including the grape stomp ($25 adults, $20 for kids) and Sunday’s Vintage 5K Run ($25 for a single runner, $15 for groups of five or more).
Friedman said its part of an effort to raise more funds for the charities the festival supports.
“The Vintage Festival exists to raise money for the beneficiaries that we support,” he said. “Being a part of this means you’re giving back.”
While 100 percent of proceeds from the run will benefit the Sonoma Valley High School’s cross country team, other proceeds from the weekend will be split between the Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, Jack London State Historic Park, the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation’s School Garden Project and the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor #111.
“Overall, all the money that comes in goes to good causes and people need to remember that,” Friedman said, explaining that no money is spent on staff. “No one is getting paid, we’re all volunteers.”
Also new this year is an expanded art festival, taking place Saturday and Sunday in the Plaza. More than 70 artists, ranging from painters and sculptors to textile artists and jewelers, will be showing their work during the weekend.
“It’s all stuff made by the artists, no one was allowed to sell stuff they didn’t make,” Friedman said.
Friedman said the board is already looking to next year, with plans to develop the festival even further with kids activities and other special events. The Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival is the second longest running festival in California after the Tournament of Roses Festival in Pasadena.
“There’s been a decline in participation. What we want to do is try to bring people back,” Friedman said. “I really think one way the community can help out is by coming down to support us this weekend.”
To learn more, register for an event or buy tickets, visit sonomavinfest.org.