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Festival Termed Solid Success
Blessed by sunny but cool weather instead of the usual scorching heat, Riverbank's Cheese and Wine Expo went off without a hitch over the weekend.

The only scare was the buffeting wind when crews were setting up tents on Friday evening, said event chairperson Chris Elswick of the Riverbank Rotarians, who organized the annual event.

Construction on Santa Fe Street between Second and Fourth streets forced the Expo to move further east this year with much of it clustered in Community Park, which was dubbed Cellar Square for the occasion and fenced in because it held the wine tasting tables and beer garden.

Some visitors were confused by a several-stage arrangement requiring the purchase of a wine glass, payment of a $2 fee to enter the Cellar Square, and further purchase of tasting tickets to sample wines - but it worked out for most.

It also proved a good idea to scatter the wine company's tables under small tents around the park's permanent stone gazebo so one could buy and then rest one's glass at waist level and chat with friends.

All the booths this time, instead of only some, were placed back to back in the street. This gave the crowds more room to walk and peruse the many items available for sale. Solid metal and plastic pads covered the power lines running out from the curbs so nobody was in danger of tripping.

The arts and crafts booths seemed of an especially high standard this year, said organizers. There were many quality items available in metal, wood, glass, crystal and other materials together with paintings and prints and photographs.

Entertainment was lively. The Community Stage held crowds of spectators spellbound with a wide variety of music, including a display of Mexican style dance staged by the local Ballet Folklorico.

Law enforcement reported few problems, according to a Riverbank Police Services sergeant. There was only one incident over the whole two days, a case where an argument between two men escalated into a physical fight. They were not arrested but the case has been referred to the District Attorney's office for possible charges of assault.

"It was very peaceful, with large crowds but happy people," he said.

Sixteen-year-old Nathan Jackson of Big Valley Christian High School was the overall winner of the 5K race organized in conjunction with the Riverbank Cheese and Wine Expo on Saturday morning. Jackson finished the course in 26.22. He is a member of the Modesto school' s "very small" (seven-member) cross country team and trains five days a week.

Larry Blaylock, 28, was the first to finish the 10K course, in a time of 32.37, according to the results posted by the Shadowchase Running Club of Modesto that again organized the event this year. The course started and finished at the Galaxy Theatre parking lot.

Mary Tourtlotte, 33, was the first Riverbank runner to cross the line in the 10K. She finished seventh in a time of 40.55.

Among Riverbank runners in the 10K, Mark Selz placed 31st in 48.12, Bridgit Asuncion 79th in 56.53 and Heather Erhart 88th in 58.25.

Placings for Riverbank runners in the 5K were as follows:

Seventh - Mike Boger in 18.01, 25th - Derrick Burnett in 22.13, 27th - Mike Callas in 22.18, 43rd - Jenny Tran in 25.06, 70th - Erika Eberhard in 28.46, 72nd - Katie Post in 29.28, 79th - Glenn Kanestrom in 30.40, 82nd -Santiago Lopez in 31.18 and 87th - Deena Post in 32.05.

Once called the Run for the Cheese, the event is a traditional part of the festival. It used to be run in the downtown area but was moved to the quieter residential streets north of the theatre for safety reasons some years ago.