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Crowds Pour In To Enjoy Annual Cheese, Wine Expo
Front wine pix
Wine drinkers and cheese aficionados partake in the various vintages of both at the weekends Cheese and Wine Expo in downtown Riverbank. A variety of vintners and cheese producers offered their wares in a special tent area as part of the larger event on both Saturday and Sunday. Ric McGinnis/The News

The weekend weather provided the perfect backdrop for the annual Cheese and Wine Exposition in Riverbank, with thousands making the trek to enjoy the downtown festival.

There were scheduled wine and cheese tastings both Saturday and Sunday, craft beers, music and entertainment on multiple stages, food booths, vendors, a handmade craft area, carnival rides and games for the kids and more. Activities kicked off early Saturday morning with the annual Run for the Cheese; see story and photos on Page A2.

It was a festive crowd that made their way to the City of Action, enjoying the wide variety of activities the expo offered.

“We’ve been coming for 20-plus years,” said Modesto resident John Colcleasure. “I used to really like the booths, there were different items you couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Jake Colcleasure, 9, was also enjoying the day, including taking a turn in the popular ‘water ballerz’ hamster-style balls.

“I finally just stood up and ran in it,” he said of mastering the ballerz as opposed to having it continually keep him off balance.

Riverbank resident Maureen Ortiz was taking a look at some colorful shirts being offered by a vendor.

“I like the variety of different things that are being sold,” she said. “And there’s no hassling.”

Son James Ortiz said it was a relaxing way to spend a Sunday downtown.

“The atmosphere is good, it’s just a nice neighborhood festival,” he said. “I didn’t do the wine and cheese tasting, but the food is delicious.”

Stationed at the Riverbank Chamber of Commerce booth set up along Third Street, Chamber President Anthony McKinney had a front row seat to the crowds moving through the festival.

“The weather has been great, the crowd is very improved from last year,” McKinney said. “We’re getting some positive reviews.”

He said the relocation of the wine and cheese tastings to the Antigua Event Center seemed to be going over well.

“It is nice having it at Antigua, it’s an elegant setting,” he said.

Making the drive from neighboring Modesto was Nick Maynard, who had the whole family – including three daughters, ages 15, 9, and 3, with him – and said all were enjoying their day.

“I like the food and the vendors, obviously the rides for the girls,” he said. “It’s just nice and safe, we’ve come before and we’ve just never experienced any problems.”