So much to see and do! La Jolla Art and Wine Fest adds celebs, family events, speakers to 2016 lineup

The eighth annual La Jolla Art and Wine Festival is stepping up its entertainment game this year so those who stroll the streets looking at world-class art have something to see and do at every corner. 

The two-day juried art show — to be held 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9 along Girard Avenue — will feature the work of some 150 artists, and beverage tastings from more than a dozen wineries and breweries. Admission is free, but proceeds from the wine and beer garden and silent auctions benefit La Jolla’s public elementary and middle schools. 

Because the festival raises funds for the children of La Jolla, the family art center was expanded this year, courtesy of Geppetto’s toy shop owner Brian Miller. 

“Since the beginning, I’ve been a sponsor and have underwritten the family area, but this year, we’re also organizing the activities, and we’ve blown up that area to include many more things for children all under one big tent,” he said. 

Literally, there will be a large tent shading Wall Street, where the family art area will be located. 

“We are premiering the new Turkey on the Table toy — kids can write what they are thankful for on the feathers and display it at Thanksgiving,” he said. “We want La Jolla children to write what they are thankful for on the turkey that will go in our store.” 

From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Maggie Wheeler (Janice from TV’s “Friends”) and Meredith Scott Lynn (”Legally Blonde,” “Days of Our Lives”) will stop by to promote their creative writing program Write Brain, with activities that encourage kids to write, illustrate and create their own books.

Also on the docket are arts and crafts tables, a physical activity area sponsored by the La Jolla YMCA, and a science-based activity table sponsored by the La Jolla Library. 

Even the donated car that children are invited to paint is getting an upgrade this year, and will be a 20-foot-plus stretch limo. “There’s a lot going on this year we’ve never done before,” Miller said. 

For adults, there will be changes to the wine and beer garden this year with the inclusion of speakers, musicians and an “experience” auction. In addition to the silent auction tent, which is stocked with donated items from local businesses and participating artists, there will also be a table with bid-able trips and once-in-a-lifetime events in the wine and beer garden. 

“We tried to find experiences people typically don’t have access to,” said auction organizer Georgia Schweitzer. Examples include a NASCAR driving experience, a trip to Costa Rica for six days and seven nights, watching a Chicago Cubs game from the Wrigley Field rooftop, a trip for two to the 51st Annual Country Music Awards and After-Party, and a trip for two to the 2017 Semi-Final Games and the Final Championship Game of the NCAA Final Four Basketball Tournament. 

Also new, Schweitzer said, is that these experience items are already open for pre-bidding online at ljawf.com — just click on Attractions, then Silent Auction. The bidding will close at the end of the festival. 

Free entertainment will also be available in the wine and beer garden. As in previous years, musical acts will take the stage in 20-30 minute sets throughout the weekend, but this year, speakers from the wine and beer industry will make presentations and answer questions in between performances. 

Event founder Sherry Ahern said, “Festivals are becoming more interactive and people want to hear and learn more about things ... last year, we had a few stilt-walkers going around, but this year we’re going to have a bunch of them. We’re also going to have contortionists who can do all kinds of amazing things.

“We love that there really is something for everyone, and that the La Jolla Art and Wine festival is ever-evolving. But what really makes us different is that it’s beautiful because it’s in La Jolla.”

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