Recipe for a delicious weekend: equal parts wine, seafood, art, crafts, music, friendship. Add a dash of curiosity and a pinch of adventure. Mix together with plenty of sunshine and serve. The 2013 Crab Seafood & Wine Festival held at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds was one of the busiest ever, but no one seemed to mind. The 200 vendors were too busy giving joy and making money, while the nearly 20,000 guests were too busy tasting, sipping, sampling and generally giving their five senses a workout.

“My, my, my. We were here Saturday and it was so busy, but it was so fun also. We had to come back Sunday to get to the booths we missed yesterday,” said Kevin Baker of Seattle. “This is just an incredible event. My wife and I look forward to it every year.”

The 31st year of the festival saw a new seating area for guests, with the completion of the horse barn, and a lengthened and improved tent for all of the food vendors. Guests of the festival, who grew tired or hungry, found dozens of places to sit and eat from the sumptuous crab lunch of the Astoria Rotary Club, to clam chowder from Mo’s, to steaming hot kielbasa from the Urban German café.

“It has definitely been up this year. The good weather has really helped,” said John Medlin of Hood River’s Naked Winery. David Philo of Ancient Cellars Winery in Newberg seconded that.

“It has been terrific this year, a lot of people having great conversations over wine. It’s been very active and steady,” he said.

The Astoria-Warrenton Crab Seafood & Wine Festival is important not only for the guests and vendors, but it raises thousands of dollars for the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce and the various groups that support the festival. It also helps the local economy when the guests, most of them from out of town, dine and stay overnight in the area.

“Sunday is having a better turnout than last year,” said Sarah Meyer, a Chamber board member. “It’s been a nice response to a more relaxed day. It was wall-to-wall people yesterday. Hold your breath and squeeze through. It was a fun day yesterday!”

The Chamber of Commerce sold commemorative wine glasses that guests could buy and use to sample with. Although wineries seemed to be the main emphasis in the fairgrounds, there were plenty of other vendors selling everything from seafood to cosmetics, photographs, glassware, jewelry, etc.

An army of helpers allowed the Festival to run smoothly. “There are over 200 volunteers from the Chamber organization making it happen. Then you have volunteers from all the other organizations too,” said Meyer. “This is really a community event. I think that there are between 17,000 and 20,000 people that make it here. I know the goal is to have about 20,000.”

Even on Sunday, Dan High of Flying Dutchman Winery in Otter Rock seemed too busy to be interviewed. Smile, pour and talk about wine; smile, pour and talk about wine. Eventually when things calmed down, he relaxed and sighed with satisfaction.

“It’s really going great,” he said. “This year we entered three wines in the competition and got three gold medals. The numbers are up from last year. Friday was full of locals, and yesterday was really busy. Today will be a good day too,” he said just before another thirsty guest approached his booth.

         

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