San Mateo summer festival season kicks off 

It’s almost time to uncork and unwind at one of San Mateo County’s grape-inspired summer festivals.

“People love it,” said Anne LeClair, CEO and president of the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I thank the movie ‘Sideways.’ There’s just a big demand for appreciating wine. It’s almost always a component.”

Wine aficionados can sip and stroll at the 15th annual Wine Walk in downtown San Mateo in June, and nosh on snacks and score tastes of local wines.

But the Peninsula wine party doesn’t end there. Billed as the “ultimate Labor Day celebration,” the 40th Millbrae Art and Wine Festival nearly quadruples the city’s population to about 88,000. More than 250 artists will be on hand to share their wares alongside a Mardi Gras-style feast and live bands.

“The festival is in September, then we start planning again for next year in November,” said John Ford, the Millbrae Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “It’s by far Millbrae’s biggest event.”

But despite the wine-centric pastimes, LeClair said she’s especially thankful when people who come to the county on business trips and use the summer festivals as an excuse to extend their stays, adding to the $2.6 billion in tourism dollars for the Peninsula last year.

“Leisure travelers come in, but one of the things that our research showed us recently: If we have a business traveler, they’ll add three days or three nights and maybe even bring their family because of a festival,” LeClair said.

One of the bureau’s recent surveys found that this applied to 46 percent of business travelers.

“There’s something just about every weekend,” LeClair said.

And there’s always the added comfort that San Mateo County usually has consistently pleasant summertime weather. But it wouldn’t be the Bay Area if there wasn’t always a chance it could get a little chilly.

“It’ll be in the low to mid-70s for a broad brush this summer season,” said meteorologist Dianne Henderson of the National Weather Service. “But the seasonal outlook is by no means a daily forecast.”

Don't-miss events

Hot Harvest Nights Farmers Market
May 6 to Sept. 9, 4 to 8 p.m. Accompanied by music, stores will be open throughout downtown with take-away food. No dogs. [700 block of Laurel Street, San Carlos, (650) 593-1068,]

39th annual Stanford Powwow
Friday-Sunday. Held every Mother’s Day weekend, there are American Indian dance performances, a fun run, basketball tournaments and other contests. [Eucalyptus Grove, Stanford University,]

Music on the Square
Fridays May 14 to Oct. 8, 6 to 8 p.m. You can bring your own beer or wine. But pets, along with umbrellas because they block views, are not recommended for the free concerts. [Courthouse Square, Redwood City, (650) 780-7000,]

ING Bay to Breakers
May 16, race starts at 8 a.m. The 99th running of the famous cross-town race that draws thousands, from the serious to the merry. [From Beale and Mission streets to Golden Gate Park; (415) 359-2800,]

San Mateo Maker Faire
May 22-23, opens 10 a.m. Family-friendly event celebrates the do-it-yourselfer. Creative, resourceful people who like to tinker and make things display their inventions. [San Mateo County Expo Center, San Mateo,]

San Carlos Hometown Days
May 23. In its 30th year, the volunteer-run event has a parade, food, live entertainment, family games, a beer garden, a pancake breakfast and a petting zoo. [Burton Park, 1017 Cedar St., San Carlos, (650) 594-2700,]

The Parade of the Century
May 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. After the march for Hillsborough’s 100th birthday, it will end with a barbecue, music and entertainment. [Hillsborough Town Hall, 1600 Florida Ave.,]

39th annual Arts and Wine Festival
June 5-6. Kick off with an old-fashioned carnival featuring rides, cotton candy, arts and crafts, and local vendors. [Foster City Chamber of Commerce, 1031 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, (510) 865-3636,]

San Mateo County Fair
June 12-20. More than 150,000 people are expected to attend the annual festival that is one of the county’s biggest, featuring a variety of music, performances and traditional contests and a carnival. [San Mateo County Event Center, 2495 S. Delaware St.;]

40th annual Burlingame Art in the Park
June 12-13. Art, crafts, food, entertainment and kids activities, including the “My Monet” art exhibit. [Washington Park, Carolan and Burlingame avenues, across from the train depot,]

Vertical Challenge
June 19. More than 50 helicopters are on display in the air show. [Hiller Aviation Museum, 601 Skyway Road, San Carlos, (650) 654-0200,]

15th annual Wine Walk
June 25, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Stroll through downtown San Mateo, meet winemakers, enjoy food, shopping and entertainment. [Downtown San Mateo Association, Third and Ellsworth avenues, San Mateo,]

Tour des Fleurs
July 17. The all-day event takes you behind the scenes of local nurseries, wineries and farms. [Half Moon Bay, (650) 726-8380, ext. 100,]

24th annual Connoisseurs’ Marketplace
July 17–18, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sponsored by the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, the marketplace has more than 250 artists, live music and artisan food vendors. Also, there will be home-and-garden and police and fire exhibits. [Santa Cruz Avenue between El Camino Real and Johnson Street, Menlo Park, (650) 325-2818,]

Summer Blues Festival
July 23-24. Admission is free to music event sponsored by the PAL. [Courthouse Square, Redwood City,]

10th anniversary Driscoll Ranches Rodeo
July 24-25. Family fun that promotes ranching and the Western way of life. [Driscoll Ranches Rodeo, La Honda,]
Burlingame ArtzFest
Aug. 7-8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There’s something for everyone at the new ArtzFest — local talent, crafts and trendy jewelry, along with gourmet food, beer and wine. [Burlingame and California avenues, Burlingame, (650) 344-1735,]

40th annual Millbrae Art and Wine Festival
Sept. 4-5. One of the older Peninsula events is celebrating its 40th anniversary with more than 200 artists and craft vendors and all-day entertainment. The Millbrae Chamber of Commerce predicts a crowd of about 75,000. [Downtown Millbrae,]

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Kamala Kelkar

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