December usually means the end of festival season, but not for Janet Ciel, the force behind the new Wine Country Winter Festival.
The weekend extravaganza will bring together local artists, craft workshops, musicians, food and beverage vendors at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds starting at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 and 4.
Ciel remembers a previous holiday festival that ended its annual run at the fairgrounds about a decade ago. “People have been asking the fairgrounds ever since if there will be another one,” she said.
Ciel decided to start one, calling upon 22 years of experience organizing the Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival, a summer fest that combines music and seafood with killer beer and wine.
While the Wine Country Winter Festival promises to stay true to its sister festival in Bodega, it also will take on an identity of its own, highlighting music and the holiday season.
“I’m a real fan of that time of year,” said Ciel, explaining why ticketholders are likely to hear Christmas carols and find Santa and his elves spreading holiday cheer. Another highlight of the event is a gingerbread house contest.
North Bay artists will dominate the musical acts, including The Easy Leaves, an Americana band that spent the summer touring the United States, Forestville’s David Luning Band, Bootleg Honeys and Frobeck. Musicians will perform everything from classical to Cajun and swing.
Ciel hopes kids also will be attracted to the family event by opportunities to decorate cookies, ride a holiday train and learn make their own holiday greeting cards and stamps.
Tickets are $8-$15, available in advance at Oliver’s Markets, or $10-$15 at the gate.
Tickets and a full list of events also are available at winecountrywinterfestival.com.