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Ballyhoo money in hand for annual Art and Wine Affaire in EDH

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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The money that made the difference in 2007 is available once again for Art and Wine Affaire organizers in El Dorado Hills. The annual Mother’s Day weekend affair turned the corner in popularity in 2007 when an extra $40,000 in marketing cash emerged from El Dorado County’s hotel-and-motel-tax account. Supervisors Nov. 18 approved $39,300 to spread word about the 2009 affair for the Town Center commercial area. “It was a tremendous impact (in 2007),” said Debbie Manning, executive director of organizer El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce. “That was the year the event really boomed.” The event has evolved from a sedate gallery showcasing local and non-local painters and sculptors, which would draw an audience numbering in the hundreds, to a whopping party that draws thousands. The county’s dozens of vineyard operators have incentive to participate. “We have local wineries come and pour, people buy wristbands to have a wine glass, and it draws tons of people,” said the chamber’s Sarah Casady. The annual event falls each year on the Mother’s Day weekend. In 2009, it will be May 10 and 11. Manning said the hotel-tax money is used to pay for massive advertising to draw event-goers from surrounding counties. “I decided, since El Dorado Hills does have a hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, it would be appropriate to receive some of the hotel-and-motel tax money,” Manning said. “It went from a nice event drawing 1,500 or 2,000 people with 80 artists to drawing seven or eight thousand with more than 100 artists.” The hotel opened in 2005. Tourists who might not venture cold out to a remote rural vineyard in, say, Mt. Aukum show up at the Art and Wine Affair in urban El Dorado Hills, become enamored of a particular vintner’s wares and wind up making special trips thereafter to that winery, perhaps making an entire day of the county’s opportunities for say, whitewater rafting and, after a strenuous day, that’s right, comfortable lodging, according to Manning. “Several wineries have let me know that people have come back to the county,” she said. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at rogerp@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment at folsomtelegraph.com