A fair amount of rain didn't keep Javier Fernandez and his family from attending the Winterblast festival in the South A Street arts enclave near downtown Santa Rosa.
Wearing warm rain jackets and umbrellas, Fernandez, his wife and three kids, ages 1, 8 and 10, took shelter under a tent as they ordered food from a vendor parked along the street.
Colorfully decorated sofas sat parked in the rain along street curbs in front of South A Street art galleries and studios, as visitors ducked in and out of the rain from one studio to the next.
Fernandez and his family were among the several hundred people who visited the arts district's 8th annual Winterblast event Saturday night, a pre-holiday season bash that usually draws a couple of thousand people eager to experience the fruits of what has become a booming arts community just south of Juilliard Park.
"We read about it in the newspaper and thought it would be a fun event for the family," Fernandez said. "We were stuck in the house all day and we wanted to come no matter what ... That's why we have rain jackets and umbrellas."
The rain "moved everything inside," said Fred Vedder, a South of A Street artist and full-time teacher at Roseland University Prep.
A small troupe of band musicians that was supposed lead a parade out in the streets held court for a time inside the hallways of A Street Studios, one of many studio buildings in the district. Despite the wet weather, live bands played at various location.
The entertainment and festive atmosphere — the work of dozens of local artists — was all there.
"It's never rained before," said Christie Marks, a mixed media artist whose studio is inside A Street Studios. Marks was one of many artists who helped coordinate the festival, which itself is one of many public events that help showcase the artist enclave throughout the year.
"We do this as a festival for the community," Marks said. "It's a celebration of the winter holidays coming. It's a blast-off to winter."
(You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)