La Jolla Art & Wine Festival
October 6-7, 2018 | La Jolla
A decade ago, Sherry Ahern saw a need to help La Jolla’s public elementary and middle schools. In response, she spearheaded a fundraiser in the form of the very first La Jolla Art & Wine Festival, which ran along upper Girard and highlighted a handful of artists, local foods, and wine. The festival quickly became a massive hit and now attracts about 40,000 visitors each year. It’s a fitting event for the beachside city, which is rich in artistic history.
“La Jolla was an artist colony in the early 1900s, then known as the Green Dragon,” explains Ahern. “It was nothing to see people with easels painting on street all the time in La Jolla. We’re bringing back that artistic side.”
This year, the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival celebrates a ten-year milestone, offering a two-day affair spanning the heart of La Jolla and including everything from art to auctions to live entertainment and more. Artists come from all over to showcase their works, with original pieces not just for sale but to include in silent auctions as well. Because the festival is juried, artists return year after year, with more endeavoring to be included. Ahern adds that the art festival is one of the top five juried shows in California.
Art, however, is just one facet of the event; the festival’s extensive wine and beer selections inspire many others to visit. “The first year, our beer garden held 400 people and the line was wrapped around the block. We quickly realized wine and beer were as important as the art, because people get into what drink pairs with what art,” says Ahern.
“My idea from the beginning was that if we all got together, we’d be stronger as a united front than going out to ask for money individually,” Ahern continues. “As a result, we’ve given about $1 million to La Jolla schools in over nine years.” Now a 501c3, the LJAWF serves approximately 6,000 parents and 4,000 kids each year.
While Ahern says there are no plans to expand the festival’s footprint for now, she does point out added activities, such as lobster trucks, street artists, and a children’s art center where kids can paint and express themselves. Last year’s event even added nine animal adoption agencies, and found homes for 55 dogs. “This year, we have 20 adoption agencies. If you’re thinking about getting an animal, please come that weekend and rescue a pet,” says Ahern. “And with wine, beer, kids, dogs, beautiful town art, and the sun, who wouldn’t want to come?” ljawf.com Ryan Thomas
Photography by Elliot Heller