August 3, 2008

Thousands Flock to Festival of Arts

By Rob Dennis

That first festival in 1984 drew an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 people. These days, about 400,000 attend the free two-day event each year.

Spanning 4.26 miles, the festival offers booth after booth of watercolors and tie-dyed shirts and Celtic jewelry and Tiffany lamps. Hand-carved wooden dragons and framed antique seed packets vie for the eclectic collector's attention, along with flattened Glenlivet and Jameson bottles and flying pig mobiles.

In all, this year's festival boasts more than 650 artist booths, 34 food booths and a gourmet market along Paseo Padre Parkway, Walnut Avenue, State Street and Capitol Avenue in central Fremont. It will continue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.

Although the festival this year lost its popular Firefighter Combat Challenge, which moved to the Fremont Chili Cook-Off, it has added some new attractions, including Kid City -- a collection of playhouses designed to look like city buildings -- and a trailer from the Bravo network television show "Top Chef."

"It's a wide variety of enjoyable stuff "... good music, too," said 46-year-old John Kliment of Fremont. "It's nice to get out and breathe the fresh air."

And for vendors, it provides the prospect of mucho dinero if the weekend goes well.

"We've had a good morning. It's been good so far," said Andrea Austin, 53, of Austin Woodworks, an Occidental company specializing in hardwood towel bars, shelves and a variety of other household items shaped like surfboards. "But you never know till the end of the show."IF YOU GO-- WHAT: Fremont Festival of the Arts-- WHEN: 10 a.m to 6 p.m. today-- WHERE: Streets from Paseo Padre Parkway in the east to State Street in the west; and from Capitol Avenue in the north to Walnut Avenue in the south.-- COST: Free

Originally published by Rob Dennis, CORRESPONDENT.

(c) 2008 Oakland Tribune. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.