Darin Soukup, executive director of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, expects record setting crowds to attend the 21st Annual Oakhurst Fall Festival this Saturday and Sunday at the Oakhurst Community Park.
"This event has so much to offer ... great handcrafted beers from regional microbreweries, wonderful wines, samples from area restaurants, artisanal cheeses, a variety of chocolate creations, numerous collectibles, a silent auction, live music, classic car show, petting zoo, dunk tank, and a children's carnival," Soukup said. "We expect more than 5,000 people from the Mountain Area and the Valley to attend."
Soukup said the family-friendly event is about showcasing the great products the Mountain Area has to offer.
"We put together a diverse array of offerings so everyone has something they will be excited about."
The Fall Festival runs from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $2 and tickets for beer, wine, and food tastings, as well as children's activities cost $1 each.
The owners of South Gate Brewing Company are thrilled to be participating in the festival this year.
"We will be pouring our newly released 1864 Ale, which is a beautiful, rich and smooth Oktoberfest style beer, as well as one more selection from our line up of distinguished house-made ales created by our Brewmaster Rick Boucke," said owner Casey Hawkins.
The new beer is in honor of next year's 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant by President Lincoln signing, that set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove for preservation.
Boucke and Hawkins will be on-hand for much of the event to describe their offerings and answer questions about the local brewpub and the beers which are quickly gaining notoriety throughout the Mountain Area and the Central Valley.
"The Fall Festival is always such a wonderful event and a fun way for our community to come together and enjoy the art, activities and handcrafted wine and beer this area has to offer," Lyndsay Hawkins said.
The Hawkins were recently named to the "40 Under 40" class of 2013 by Fresno's Business Street Online.
The couple will be honored Nov. 7 at the Holiday Inn Fresno Downtown. The event recognizes some of the top young business professionals in the public and private sectors in central California.
"The '40 Under 40' class consists of a wonderful group of young business people making a difference in their central California communities," said Lance Cardoza, president and publisher of Business Street Online.
Other breweries who will be serving at the event are Full circle Brewing Co. and Three Monkeys Brewing Co.
Ray and Tammy Krause, proprietors of the award-winning Westbrook Wine Farm on House Ranch Road in O'Neals are looking forward to the Fall Festival.
"We are so very pleased to be able to support and participate in this event," Ray said. "It's the local folks who give us our wings."
The Krause's will be featuring their 2011 Savvy, a Sauvignon Blanc white Meritage / Bordeaux style blend and their 2009 Petite Sirah, big red.
Ray said both wines were crafted from fruit grown in Madera County and can hold their own with the world's best.
Ray Krause first worked in the wine industry in 1964 as a fermentation control specialist for Fresno's Roma Winery. It was the year after his enrollment in the Oenology degree program at Fresno State College, facilitated by a scholarship from the original San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association. After completing his studies and a three year tour with the U.S. Army Air Defense Command, Krause relocated to the Santa Clara Valley where he worked as national sales manager for the Mirassou family winery.
Krause went out on his own in 1975, and soon opened Farview Farm Vineyard Winery in Templeton, and a wine specialty store, Grape and Grain in Fresno.
In 1994, he purchased a 40-acre ranch in O'Neals, harvesting his first grapes in 1999. The following year Tammy became co-winemaker and the year after that, Mrs. Krause.
Oakhurst's award-winning Idle Hour Winery will be participating in the event for the first time.
Co-owners and winemakers Anna Marie dos Remedios and Deb Payne will debut a Pinot Gris with a special label at the festival. The label features Queen, Deb's grandmother. The Queen's Inn, adjacent to the winery, is named after Queen, Naomi Ashby, who was an influential person in Oakhurst in her time.
"We will also be pouring some of our popular red wines, Syrah from Madera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc," dos Remedois said.
Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to see Fab Delight's Chocolate Truffles, Heavenly Mountain Sweets, and the Yosemite Fudge Factory.
For cheese connoisseurs, the Hilmar Cheese Company will offer a wide range of superior quality cheeses including its world-famous American and cheddar, and Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby, Colby-Jack, flavored Jacks, and Mozzarella.
The company, founded in 1984, annually produces more cheese from one site than any other manufacturer in the world producing more than 2.4 million pounds of cheese per day, and is a consistent Gold medalist at the California State Fair cheese competition.
The Oakhurst Fall Festival is made possible by title sponsorship from Silva Ford of Chowchilla, Gold Sponsors Linn Law Offices and Sierra Tel, and Silver sponsors Golden 1 Credit Union and Budweiser.
Bronze sponsors are Bodys by Boyd, Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, PG&E, and Yosemite Bank. Additional sponsors are the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, W.J. Bradley, Wild Wonderful Women, and 47th Place Carpet One.
Details: Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, (559) 683-7766, oakhurstchamber.com.