Harvest Fair, Grape Stomp approaching
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The debate still rages: Is it more fun to watch or to participate in The World Championship Grape Stomp? For close to 40 years, locals and visitors from as far afield as India and Australia have attended the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and participated in the ever-popular Grape Stomp. And not just for the grand prize of $1,500.

“The whole thing’s a blast,” says Michelle Kaluahine, part of last year’s winning team. “I’d recommend everyone try it at least once. It’s an experience you can’t have anywhere else. The band’s playing, you get cheered loudly, it’s exciting and you get really messy. Oh, and the bragging rights! What else do you have a chance to be World Champion of?”

Round that out with the thrill of competition, a chance to win great prizes, the unique physical fun of stomping around in a vat of grapes and it’s a can’t-lose event.

The Harvest Fair is scheduled for Oct. 4-6, with the Grape Stomp qualifying beginning on Oct. 5 at 12:30 p.m. Qualifying continues at 12:30 p.m. There also is a kids stomp scheduled for 2 p.m. on Oct. 6. The winning team from each preliminary stomp will be entered in the world championship finals on Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. A special award will be given in each stomp to the best-dressed team. With no gate admission fee, participants’ family, friends and cheering sections can watch the stomp for free.

Teams of two, often in hilarious costumes, compete to see whose barefoot stomping produces the most juice. Some teams bring their own cheering squads, while others rely on the considerable enthusiasm of the spectators. Everyone is cheered.

“It’s fun to watch people having a good time,” says Grape Stomp coordinator Jane Engdahl. “It’s impossible to tell who will win. You might think it will be the biggest guy, but not necessarily. There’s suspense.”

For those of you looking to emerge your toes in grapes, you can still enter the competition. Simply go to the website at harvestfair.org to download a form to send in along with the $30 entry fee.

 The Sonoma County Harvest Fair hours are Oct. 4 from 4 to 9 p.m., and Oct. 5-6 from noon-5 p.m. Admission is free. The all-inclusive tasting pavilion offers the grand tasting format for all three days. Tickets are $50 each or two for $90 through Oct. 3. Tickets are available for purchase online at harvestfair.org or at the box office, which is located at 1350 Bennett Valley Road in Santa Rosa or at the door the day of the event.

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