Even with the government shutdown on most people's minds, a record-breaking crowd of more than 5,000 men, women and children swarmed to the 21st Annual Oakhurst Fall Festival Oct. 12 and 13 in the Oakhurst Community Park, featuring award-winning beer and wine, chocolate creations and other food specialties, arts and crafts, children's activities and a classic car show.
Some of those mouth-watering treats were created by chocolate artisan, Sandy Schaefer, who creates lavender chocolates.
"I started my company, From my Garden, three years ago and it has grown from two flavors of lavender truffles to eight, and now includes white chocolate and a lavender port, which pairs great with wine," Schaefer said."
Whether you enjoyed the hand-crafted beer and wine, or had a hankering for something savory or sweet, Oakhurst Fruit & Nut Co., Mountain Candies, Sugar Pine Pizza, Supernaw's Bar-B-Q, the New Jade Gazebo, Blue Heron Restaurant, and Yosemite Fudge left visitors licking their lips and walking away with smiles on their faces.
According to Darin Soukup, executive director of the Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, this year's festival was extremely successful with people enjoying all that was offered, along with the beautiful autumn weather.
"We try very hard to make this a community wide event," Soukup said. "We have something for everyone: cars, bounce houses, petting zoo, crafts, arts, entertainment and food."
"This is the place to be every second weekend in October," said Todd Miller, chairman of the event. "This event is open to everyone and everybody. There are attractions and entertainment for children of all ages and each year it keeps growing and getting better."
One of the weekends biggest highlights was the release of South Gate Brewing Company's "1864 Ale," created by Brewmaster Rick Boucke, in honor of next year's 150th anniversary of the signing of the Yosemite Grant by President Lincoln, that set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove for preservation.
"We have been getting great feedback on the 1864 Ale," said South Gate employee Emma Link. "Its been a great hit and the whole town has just been so supportive."
"This is our first year participating in the fall festival and it's wonderful to see this community get together for this great event," said Casey Hawkins, owner of South Gate Brewing.