Some of the best kite-flyers in the country are expected to breeze through San Ramon this Memorial Day weekend for the city's annual Art and Wind Festival.
The two-day fair, which in a span of two days typically draws crowds of 70,000 through the city's Central Park on Alcosta Boulevard, has been the city's signature public event for more than two decades.
"Wind is a natural element here in San Ramon that the city likes to celebrate," said city spokeswoman Nicole Blazin. "San Ramon is known for windy afternoons, and it was a perfect theme to build a unique community festival around."
More than 200 arts and crafts booths have signed up to set up at the Sunday-through-Monday festival in homage of the blustery element. And a 6 a.m. hot-air balloon launch will kick off the second day of the festival.
"It's stunning to watch," said Erik Boyd, a San Ramon father who brought his two children to the launch last year. "I'd say bring a camera."
Later in the day, on both days, kids will have their pick of plenty of other attractions, including a kite-making workshop, stunt kite-flying demonstrations and carnival favorites like giant spinning teacups and a mini train ride.
"The festival's kid zone continues to grow by leaps and bounds," Blazin said.
This year, the virtual games section – which features games like laser tag – has grown to encompass an entire tennis court, she said. There will also be a rock wall, bounce houses and a variety of arts and crafts workshops.
Adults will get their share of arts and crafts, too. Jewelers, painters, photographers, potters and many more artists – many from out of state and others right here from San Ramon – will set up shop for the duration of the festival.
San Ramon jeweler Susanna Ordway will sell her Swarovski, silver and semi-precious-stone-adorned pieces alongside out-of-state artisans like Washington photographer Jim Guthrie and Arizona-based painter Lynn Kessinger, to name a few artists. Others include woodworkers, stained-glass artisans, musicians and toy-makers.
Musicians on three festival stages will create a soundtrack for the holiday weekend celebration. Dancers and Taiko drummers will take their turns entertaining the crowds as well.
Hungry festival-goers should have their pick of gyros, peach cobbler, salads, tri-tip sandwiches, ice-cream, sushi, hot dogs and hamburgers, nachos and other fair food favorites. Proceeds from food sales go to support local nonprofits, including the Boy Scouts of America and area educational and historical foundations.
Last year, nonprofits earned more than $80,000, according to the city.
Blazin said that if not to support local volunteer groups, folks should stop by Central Park this coming weekend because in a soft economy, who can pass up free entertainment?
"It's perfect for families who can bring their children to enjoy a day of free crafts, learn to build a kite that actually flies and (to enjoy) amazing games, rides and entertainment," she said.
At a glance
WHAT: San Ramon Art and Wind Festival
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday, with a 6 a.m. hot-air balloon launch on Monday
WHERE: San Ramon Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd.
INFO: 973-3200 or www.artandwind.com