LIVERMORE — On May 14 and 15, locals can celebrate the return of a Livermore staple, the Honey and Wine Festival — now dubbed the Livermore Downtown Street Fest.
“The event has evolved over the years, and the name has evolved right along with it,” said Ruby Lopez-Villarreal, executive director with Livermore Downtown Inc. “The Livermore Downtown Street Fest truly has something for everyone, and I think the new name perfectly encompasses all of the wonderful offerings the community can experience at the Street Fest!”
Spread across Livermore’s downtown, restaurants and boutiques will be open for patrons to explore, highlighting specialty cocktails, local artisans, wines and brews. Featured breweries include Altamont Beer Works, Pennyweight Craft Brewing and Shadow Puppet Brewing Company. Cuda Ridge, Wood Family Vineyards, Charles R Vineyards, McGrail Vineyards and Ehrenberg Cellars are just a few of the wineries that will be featured. In addition, a kids’ Fun Zone will keep children entertained.
This year, two live entertainment venues — one in Stockmen’s Park and one at Bankhead Plaza — will showcase local bands.
The band, Crawdad Republic, is composed of six Livermore community members: two elementary teachers, a firefighter and a small business owner. In part, the band exists to support the community by helping raise over $10k annually for Livermore’s schools at their fundraiser Love Livermore Live, as well as helping raise $10k annually for families in need during the holidays at another fundraiser — Evening of Giving.
“It’s more than just creating original art for us; it’s about using art as a vehicle to lift up our community,” shared Jon Williams, band member and 4th-grade educator at Arroyo Seco Elementary.
After years of different bands and arrangements, the band playing together today finally united as an acoustic act to write some stripped-down, honest music that, they hope, will transcend ages and genres.
“It is such an honor and a joy to perform in our hometown,” JR Romero, drummer and gig coordinator with the band Stagecoach, which is also performing at the event.
Some may know Romero better as the owner of Tri-Valley Autobody or a member of the Rotary Club of Livermore. But about three years ago, Romero received a call from lead guitarist Gabe Duffin to form the country-rock band. The group of five has been playing in local venues ever since.
“Playing music is something that we all love and to see people respond to it with smiles, tapping feet, singing and dancing… there is nothing like it,” Romero added.
“I love the atmosphere of the event,” Darrell Revier, a neighborhood preservation officer in one of the bands performing — Rock on Tap — expressed in a similar sentiment. “People laughing, smiling, spending time together outdoors and enjoying all the things offered at the festival create an energy that is palpable. Add the excitement and positive vibes created by live music, and you have a great event where people of all backgrounds come together to have fun.”
The band originated from a group of co-workers eager to jam together. Now, the five friends make up the group vibe well, because they share a passion for music and performing, especially for their community.
Some of the local performers have gone on to entertain in larger venues, but still have a soft spot for performing locally. Meredith McHenry, is a professional vocalist who appeared on the ABC show “Karaoke Battle USA.” She and multi-instrumentalist Michael Scott have been performing together as an acoustic duo for eight years and in a full band for over 10. During that time, the band has taken many names, many forms and included a variety of people, but the common denominator has always been McHenry and Scott.
“I am tremendously grateful to have been performing in this community for most of my life, said McHenry. “I grew up in Livermore and have built a career playing music in this incredibly supportive environment. I love it every time I get to perform in my hometown!”
After spending so long isolated from one another because of the pandemic, organizers, performers and patrons alike are excited to have access to celebratory events like the Livermore Downtown Fest.
“This year we really want to infuse joy back into our community,” said Lopez-Villareal. “If you’ve gone to any events downtown lately, you can feel the joy and happiness that exudes from all of the folks downtown. People are just happy to be back together, and we are honored to be able to provide a place to be together again as a community.”
The Livermore Downtown Street Fest runs from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday, with wine and beer pouring available an hour after the event begins until an hour before closing on both days. Tasting passes include a wristband and two drink tickets. Additional tickets will be available for purchase at the box office near both of the entertainment venues, cash only.
For a full list of offerings and to buy tickets in advance, visit livermoredowntown.com.