BRENTWOOD -- Crowds at last weekend's inaugural Brentwood Harvest Time Festival appreciated the summer event's quaint and homegrown charm.
Organizers started planning the new festival in January after the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce announced that the larger Brentwood CornFest would be on hiatus this year following a slump in attendance last year. The Harvest Time Festival was aimed at celebrating far East County's bounty of seasonal produce and held during the same weekend as past CornFests.
Festival organizer and Brentwood City Councilman Steve Barr said that many local residents wanted a more intimate and relaxing festival in City Park this year. The CornFest moved out of downtown Brentwood several years ago and attendees had complained about dust and parking issues at the new venues.
"This is nice. It is better than the CornFest. It was too big and hot," said Oakley resident Grace Bustos, who came to the festival with her family on Sunday afternoon. "You can see other local residents and gather together."
Event admission was free and attendees could sip wine or beer and sample roasted corn, ethnic foods or gourmet food truck fare while listening to live music. In addition to vendors with merchandise for sale, there was a small produce area featuring seasonal vegetables and fruits for sale from some of the area's 50 U-picks.
Everyone loved that the event provided free parking, admission and family entertainment, Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor said.
"It was like the way Brentwood really is. It was down-home, friendly- and family- oriented," he said.
Children spent their time playing in the park's playground and popular water feature, getting their faces painted or competing in tractor races. Antioch's Little Angels Country School ran a booth featuring corn husking, corn weaving, corn husk painting and bean planting for children.
"It (festival) is about community and families," Little Angels Director Estella Sierra said. "We are connecting farm to school."
Festival organizers estimated that about 12,000 to 15,000 people attended the event and 30 percent of those attendees were children. Harvest Time, a Brentwood nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about farming and its related products, promoted local agri-tourism and its free app at the inaugural event.
"We kept it simple, wholesome and free," said Peggie Schuitemaker, Harvest Time's director of marketing.
"The families that walked out of the park hugged us at the gate and thanked us for bringing back something they could call their own. The farmers reached out as a group and contributed what they had in the fields."
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.