The low pressure trough that’s keeping skies grey until well past noon made it very comfortable to stroll up and down Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park, pursuing the panoply of offerings for sale and talking with the artisans. While vendors and visitors alike are happy to escape the heat, cooler temps can also diminish sales.
“I don’t know exactly why but the sun and a little heat always results in more sales,” said jeweler Martin Taber. “The sunshine just seems to loosen people up.” (Of course, that may also be encouraged by the consumption of thirst-quenching adult beverages!)
On that subject, where once Connoisseurs’ Marketplace was well known for presenting a good selection of premium wines, only Woodside Vineyards, which is based in Menlo Park, was present this year. Event organizers placed a greater emphasis on brews. “We searched high and low for the most exotic and rare examples of sudsy treasures,” said Rick Ciardella, who chaired the festival. These included beers from Anchor Steam, IPA, Full Sail and Mendocino Brewing Company.
One distinguishing mark of this festival is the Kids Zone, which is really about little kids with rides that are just thrilling enough. Located on University Dr. between Santa Cruz and Oak Grove Avenue, kids can get temporary tattoos, buy automatic squirt guns and feathery finery, and learn how to hula hoop as well as climb a 24-foot mobile rock.
Connoisseurs’ Marketplace continues on Sunday (7/16) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Bands performing in Fremont Park today include SF Bay Jazz, Wally’s Cocktail Combo and OTR. Menlo Park-based pastry chef Kathleen Jensen will be doing a food demo at 3:00 pm.
Top two photos by Scott Loftesness; slide photo by Linda Hubbard Gulker