It’s coming! Can you feel it?
Fall is in the air, and the time has arrived for another edition of Riverbank’s own Cheese & Wine Exposition.
Members of the Riverbank City Council heard a preview report from Modesto promoter Chris Ricci on what to expect for this year’s event at the Sept. 25 council meeting. The Expo is scheduled for Oct. 13 and 14.
Hours are set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
This year will mark the 42nd edition of the festive fall exposition, having graced the streets of downtown Riverbank since it began in 1977.
Originally, it was sponsored by the Riverbank District Chamber of Commerce, and then for a few years was put on by the Riverbank Rotary Club.
For the past five years the City of Riverbank has taken on the task of keeping Riverbank’s tradition alive. Enlisting the assistance of Chris Ricci Presents to facilitate the expo there have been several changes in the past five years including the location of the wine and cheese tasting and the addition of craft beer.
“I am excited to help you guys produce the Cheese and Wine festival again this year,” stated Ricci at the council meeting. “One of the challenges with Cheese and Wine is that sometimes people say hey there is not enough cheese and wine out here on the streets so we are trying to address that a little bit this year.”
In an attempt to try to alleviate that issue, they will be creating an outdoor French style wine café on the sidewalk on Santa Fe Street between Third and Fourth streets. People will have the opportunity to sit at the café and enjoy a glass of wine. For those that may not be wine aficionados there will be a new craft beer patio located on Third Street where guests can taste some local craft beers.
Another new edition to the expo is the Sip and Paint experience that people may want to participate in. There is a fee of $10 which will include a paint instructor, canvas, and paint and will be held on both Saturday and Sunday.
Ricci also showed the council a map showing the ‘footprint’ the event would take in the downtown area this year.
It will be centered at Third and Santa Fe streets, with vendors lining the streets down blocks in all four directions from there.
In addition to the stage in Plaza del Rio Park, he said there will be the main entertainment stage on Third Street, north of Topeka, with another on Third, south, near Stanislaus Street. A fourth venue will be on Santa Fe near Fourth Street, to the east. Along with the vendors and festivities the stages will serve up entertainment for all ages at the two day Cheese and Wine Exposition.
The carnival will occupy its usual spot on the west end, in the Santa Fe block between Second and First streets.
The main stage has been moved to Third Street and Topeka Street and the Hispanic stage has been moved closer to Fourth Street on Santa Fe Street to give them more room. Along with the colorful ballet folklorico groups, live music, Zumba, hip hop performance, on the Hispanic stage, the popular dancing horses will entertain the masses.
Behind City Hall South there will be beer available and a variety of games like giant Jenga. City officials noted that there is not going to be a skateboard demo this year.
Wine tasting will be held at the Antigua Event Center as it was last year on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. There will be a variety of edibles to taste this year like local mustards, olive oil, fondue, local nuts, and new this year Save Mart will serve up some food as well.
Ricci told the council that this year’s sponsorships and ticket pre-sales are doing better than last year’s to-date numbers.
He said sponsorship sales this year so far are up one quarter, at almost $17,000. And he said online wine tasting sales are up about 39 percent. And, he noted, those numbers were totaled about four weeks ahead of the actual event, so he’s expecting more to come. And that doesn’t include same day ticket sales.
Ricci said they are expecting at least 100 vendors but he was trying to limit duplication in what they offer customers at the event.
He noted that general admission to the event was free, but tickets to the wine tasting would cost $20 if purchased ahead of time. They’ll be $30 at the door.
The tasting tickets are available for purchase at www.riverbankcheeseandwine.org, City of Riverbank offices, and at select Cruiser’s gas station locations in the valley. They can also be purchased directly online at www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1714929/tfly.
News reporter Virginia Still and correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this report.