Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Got Wine?

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Got Wine?

Article excerpt

Public park and recreation agencies uncork successful wine events.

Wine is good if you like it and bad if you don't. And many Americans are finding plenty of wines they like.

Wine sales in America amounted to $30 billion in 2007, making the country the biggest wine market in the world. Sales for 2007 increased 4 percent from 2006. And this tops 14 consecutive years of growth, which saw consumption increase 66 percent by volume between 1994 and 2007, according to the Wine Institute, an advocacy group for California's wine industry.

As wine grows in popularity, so do wine-related events. And from California to Maryland, local park and recreation agencies are raising a glass to wine events by hosting their own.

In California, Tradition

Sales of wines from California accounted for 61 percent of the total American market, establishing the state as the fourth largest wine producer in the world behind France, Italy, and Spain. In fact, some of the best wine events in the nation are held here, so it is no surprise to discover that one Golden State park and recreation agency has been hosting a successful event for 29 years.

The Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival, held each September, features the talents of local and regional artists with nearly 175 booths to visit, 25 community groups serving international foods, vintners pouring fine wines, microbrewed beer, live entertainment on three stages, and the ever-popular Kids Kingdom, the festival's playground with carnival games, rides, face-painting, and a petting zoo.

The Santa Clara Art and Wine Festival is set inside picturesque Central Park, which sprawls across 52 acres and comprises a beautiful lake, hundreds of trees, several picnic areas, and open lawns.

"The family-friendly format was chosen to provide a fun family-oriented community event, in conjunction with fundraising for local charities," says Marilyn Dippell, acting recreation superintendent of the Santa Clara Community Recreation Center.

Admission to the event is free, although beer, wine, food, and individual concessions (for children) require tickets. "We obtain temporary liquor licenses through a nonprofit [friends group] and issue wristbands for alcohol after checking I.D.," Dippell says.

Sampling local cuisine is also an important part of the event, with Santa Clara-based nonprofit organizations providing the food. The festival is a fundraiser for each of these individual groups, says Dippell, and the number of organizations involved grows each year.

Planning begins in January for the September event, and a supervisor is placed in charge of each area, including food, artists, entertainment, sponsorships, Kids Kingdom, information booths, publicity, and so forth. There is also a detailed set-up plan and map.

This year's festival will feature the talents of local and regional artists with nearly 175 booths throughout the park.

"We do physical layout in the park in spray chalk, indicating all structure locations on Wednesday, then spread out deliveries and set-up throughout the next three days to avoid unnecessary congestion on Saturday morning," Dippell says.

Allowing different vendors and groups to unload at different times prevents gridlock. And detailed communication with the various groups, well in advance, is the key to making this event run smoothly-leaving weather the only uncertainty.

The festival even has its own Web site with applications for artists, sponsors, and others.

The two-day annual event attracts more than 50,000 people from Santa Clara and the surrounding communities. Now a tradition, it brings residents and visitors together to support vital community groups and organizations. To date, the festival has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities.

"Sponsors provide the funding that allows us to offer a high-quality event without depleting the proceeds from the event, thereby maximizing what we donate to charities after the event," Dippell says. …

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