Putting ‘unity’ in ‘community’: San Carlos Art and Wine Faire makes a comeback


Elaine Jiang

Locals and out-of-towners interact with the large variety of stands along Laurel St. on Saturday, Oct. 8, the first day of the San Carlos Art and Wine Faire. Many people find acquaintances and friends within the thousands of attendees.

Laughter, music, the smell of fresh barbeque, and many cries of “Oh my gosh, it’s been so long!” fill the air as pedestrians walked the streets of San Carlos during its annual Art and Wine Faire.

It’s the first fair in two years, and the community is enjoying the return of the event after the pandemic. The fair’s 30th anniversary occurred over the weekend of Oct. 8 and 9 in the lively blocks of Laurel St.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., many local businesses, artists, and thousands of residents were brought together to enjoy music, food, art, and alcohol.

The fair also proved to be a convenient way to spend the afternoon for those already in the area.

“We just got lunch and continued walking around,” said Pablo Hernandez, a first-time fair-goer.

“I love the different stands and the variety,” said Erika Gil, who accompanied Hernandez to the fair.

One of their favorite experiences was watching a band named E-ticket play in the nearby seating area. The band played 60’s rock and R&B for a crowd, some dancing along to the rhythm and laughing.

“We’ve played at the fair for quite a few years, and it’s our favorite place to play,” said Doug Rowan, the saxophonist for E-ticket, as he stood next to trombonist Mike Rinta. 

The band has made music in the Bay Area since 1985 and features an ensemble of trombone, saxophone, drums, guitar, keyboard, and vocals.

[There are] a lot of people that you wouldn’t expect to come up and start painting. [There is] a lot of adult participation too, not just youth participation. It’s good to see everyone smiling and having a good time.”

— Maya Nayberg

The variety of music is not to be underestimated, however.

Another musician at the fair, Oscar Reynolds, sat on the sidewalk and played original music on an Andean flute and guitar. Reynolds, a Bolivian musician, has been playing at the San Carlos Art and Wine Faire since 1998.

“My music comes from my heart, from god. That’s why I close my eyes when I play. I am [transported to] a different dimension,” Reynolds said.

In addition to performers, the fair created opportunities for many local businesses, especially ones that do not have a brick-and-mortar store to sell their products. One such business is Made Out of Dough, a commercial kitchen that produces baked goods and cakes for events, including weddings.

“[My favorite part of this event is] getting to know the people that live here in San Carlos. We’re from San Mateo, but we’ve been selling at the San Carlos farmers’ market for the past seven years,” said Michele Desmet, who co-owns the business with their wife. “So we have a lot of customers that we recognize and a lot of people we don’t recognize that do shop at the market, and we’re hoping they will continue to be our customers.”

Further down the block, high schoolers were involved with the fair as participants or volunteers. The San Carlos Youth Advisory Council had a booth for passersby to paint tokens to create a mural for the local youth center.

“Honestly, [I love] just seeing the community participate. [There are] a lot of people that you wouldn’t expect to come up and start painting. [There is] a lot of adult participation too, not just youth participation. It’s good to see everyone smiling and having a good time,” said Maya Nayberg, a senior at Carlmont and member of the Youth Advisory Council of San Carlos.

As for the behind-the-scenes planning that went into an event with an estimated 40,000 people attending across the entire weekend, Amy Newby, the Parks and Recreation Director for the city of San Carlos, said that it took months of arranging contracts and partnerships, getting sponsorships with local businesses, as well as working with graphic artists for the marketing. 

She worked with her team to plan the new layout of the event due to changes downtown that have occurred since 2019. During the week leading up to the fair, she worked to train volunteers and ensure that necessary deliveries were being made on time. There were over 200 volunteer shifts throughout the entire fair to help with selling glassware and tokens and managing the event.

According to Newby, it is the first time that the city of San Carlos is managing the Art and Wine Faire.

“We have so many members of our community that have stepped up to volunteer. Seeing that turnout is really just reassuring that San Carlos has a great community,” Newby said.

What is more, the wide participation from people of all ages across the Bay Area shows the incredible ability of the fair to connect and spread joy, which is clearly felt by the participants.

“[It’s about] community, family, and fun,” Newby said.