ENCINITAS — Thousands of people visited downtown Nov. 20 despite the gloomy weather to enjoy the entertainment and shopping opportunities at the annual Fall Festival.
Sponsored by the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association, the festival boasted more than 450 vendor booths hawking everything from dollar trinkets to handmade puppets and clothing to original photographs from world-famous photographers. Highway 101 was closed between D and J Streets to allow festival-goers easy access to the vendors, shops and entertainment.
“It’s so nice to be able to just walk around and see some of the local art and what’s happening downtown,” said Patricia Neison, who brought her two dogs with her to the event. They were among hundreds of canine companions in attendance, which was good for business at the many booths that sold custom-made doggie treats and beds.
Things began to wind down as the wind picked up and the Chargers game kicked off in the afternoon. “It’s been really steady despite the weather,” said Paul Walker, who was selling homemade candles. “I think people are really more into spending their money locally and staying away from the big-box retailers this year.”
In fact, Bliss 101 owner Helen Zeldes appealed to her loyal customer base to shop local and avoid the Black Friday tradition with sales and special events prior to the day after Thanksgiving. “I’m spending less money on more quality items this year,” Pearl Zuckerman said, as she browsed through the store. “I’d rather get it now and avoid the madness that happens right after Thanksgiving,” she said. “It’s gotten so bad that stores are opening at midnight just to lure people in earlier.”
While the festival was billed as a holiday shopping event, several attendees said they came more for the atmosphere than to buy gifts. “I brought the kids because of the cool family-friendly vibe,” said Blair Thompson, an Oceanside resident. Indeed, there were plenty of rides and games for children of all ages to enjoy.
“Our favorite is the rock-climbing wall,” Thompson said. She estimates spending at least $50 on rides for her three children and an additional $100 on food and extras. “We can’t pass up the kettle (pop) corn or the funnel cakes,” he said with a grin.
Several musical and performing arts acts highlighted the eclectic nature of the city. Two stages were set for bands playing everything from traditional jazz to folk, while the Community Stage hosted dancers and music students.
“These kids are great,” said Arlene Stanford, as she watched a cheerleading troupe execute numerous spirit-filled cheers.
A new addition to the mix of vendors and entertainment included a stop on the Mitsubishi Motors North America’s tour of the 100-percent electric 2012 “Mitsubishi i.” “I absolutely love it!” said Jasmine Poulter. I really would love to have one!” she exclaimed.