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Festival Picture Perfect
Leaning against a fence and scoffing funnel cake with a blissful smile on his face, Sam Khacho of Oakdale summed up the thoughts of most visitors to the Riverbank Cheese and Wine Exposition over the weekend.

"I'm having a great time," he said. "Me and the wife are just hanging out waiting for the kids to finish their ride. This cake is fabulous."

The festival was blessed by sunny weather, managing to fit itself in perfectly between a violent rainstorm on Friday evening and cloudy weather on Monday.

Friday's rain soaked the volunteers and delayed setting up the booths. But Saturday and Sunday turned out to be days of blissful sunshine with a perfect temperature for wandering through the annual festival set up along Santa Fe Street in the downtown. (See photos, Page A2.)

This was quite a change from numerous previous street fairs that have suffered too much heat for comfort.

"Attendance was very strong," said Rotary Club president and festival chairperson Chris Elswick. "There was a lot of positive reaction to the booths lining the middle of the street and favorable comments on the wine tasting. We had plenty of food to balance the wine this year. And the cheese pavilion was packed. We estimated 800 people passed through it on Sunday."

"The crowd was a good one," agreed City Manager Rich Holmer. "It was difficult to tell how large because the festival was set up differently this year. But the vendors seemed very busy. There were more crafts-type booths and less commercial."

The volunteers worked very hard in keeping the streets clean and clear of garbage during the event.

"One thing that bothered me," he added. "There were more beer cans lying about and those were beer cans brought into the festival." As for disturbances requiring police action in the packed crowds, Holmer said he'd heard of "only one, isolated case near the end of Sunday. That's good.