Wine and jazz exert wide pull

Annual festival brings musicians, wineries, artists and fans from near and far to enjoy Esther Short Park




Guitarist Johnny A. rocks the afternoon crowd at his 3:30 show.

Ray Joyce of Tacoma said he likes lots about the festival, including the venue, Esther Short Park.

Michael Kissinger said his wine and jazz festival will return to Esther Short Park in 2014.

The curtain dropped Sunday night on the 16th edition of the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival in Esther Short Park.

The reviews were mostly positive from festivalgoers Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve been coming to this for a while and they bring such a diverse group of people (artists),” said Fred Morgan, 66, who lived in Hazel Dell for 15 years but now is a Lake Oswego, Ore., resident.

“I’m here for Johnny A,” Morgan said of the guitarist who took the stage for the 3:30 show. He and wife JoAnn were at the festival Saturday and Fred said, “I really enjoyed the Brubeck Brothers (Saturday afternoon).”

“My preference is jazz, but I like the music right here, Johnny A., rock ‘n’ roll, take me back a few years,” said Ray Joyce, 69, of Tacoma. Many audience members were from spots outside of Clark County.

“I like Marcia Ball. She sings the blues,” Joyce said of another

Saturday show. “I like this venue. … And the crowd, they appreciate the music.”

Michael Kissinger, the event founder and artistic director, was upbeat about his three-day festival.

“Crowds are good. They’re always great here,” he said.

Tickets were $60 for a three-day pass, $25 for Friday only, $30 for Saturday only and $30 for Sunday only.

He said his festival is the second-most popular on the West Coast, behind California’s Monterey Jazz Festival.

“We’re bringing internationally acclaimed jazz, blues and pop acts,” he said.

He said that because he is a musician, his contacts are significant. This year’s theme was the music of jazz luminary Dave Brubeck, who died Dec. 5, 2012. “It’s been a good theme,” Kissinger said.

“I don’t know,” Kissinger replied when asked if his lawsuit, based on name infringement, against another Vancouver wine festival earlier this summer, hurt his festival in any way. The result of that legal action was that the June festival changed its name from Vancouver Winefest to Craft Winefest of Vancouver.

Kissinger said 20 wineries were at his festival, serving 180 to 200 wines. Those wineries included Maryhill Winery in Goldendale. No wineries from Clark County were included.

Of his winery choices, he said, “We dance with who we came to the party with. We’re very loyal.”

At the Barefoot Winery booth, volunteers Neil and Gladys Green of east Vancouver were having fun pouring four types of wine. A shot was $1, a glass cost $5 and you could buy a bottle for $7. Barefoot Cellars is in Modesto, Calif.

“The people love the port and they say, ‘Oh, yes.'” Gladys said. A pin she wore spelled out “wine” in diamonds. She said she and Neil are retired and are not wine experts but enjoy wine.

Gladys said working a wine booth was “a ton of fun.”

Douglas Cable, 66, of the Mount Vista neighborhood, was buying $6 glasses of Maryhill red zinfandel for himself and wife Carol Scavone.

“I like to see this because I like Vancouver and I like the history of Vancouver,” Cable said. “I like to see the city resurrect itself on cultural lines as well as economically.” He also brought his sister, Courtney Cable, and brother-in-law, Austin Dito, to the festival. They are from San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Vancouver’s Sherry Mowatt was in charge of the 37 artists who had vendor booths.

“Sales have been slow,” she said about 3:45 p.m. Sunday.

Kissinger said he could not say if the festival hit its average of 13,000 to 15,000 guests.

On Sunday night, David Sanborn and Bob James had a big, enthusiastic crowd, a guest texted to The Columbian.

Kissinger noted he had the most sponsors ever, about 60. He said he provided 1,125 VIP tickets to those sponsors.

Next year?

“Oh, yeah, we’ll be doing the festival,” Kissinger said.