The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 22, 2013

Inaugural wine fest will benefit Sandyvale


JOHNSTOWN — A fundraiser will help preserve a local garden’s beauty.

The Sandyvale Inaugural Wine Fest will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Sandyvale Memorial Gardens and Conservancy, 80 Hickory St. in  the Hornerstown section of Johnstown.

Those who attend must be age 21 and older and have ID available to scan at the entrance.

“Those who do will receive a wristband,” said Ernie Peterson, the event’s organizer.

“This is my project. I put it out there.”

 The event will benefit Sandyvale Memorial Gardens and Conservancy, and organizers hope it can become ongoing to sustain the garden’s general maintenance.

“We want to keep it as pretty as it looks now,” Peterson said of the 11-acre gardens.

“I was director of Laurel Arts and started Somerfest. I knew we needed one big event to cover annual operating costs, which are $10,000 to $12,000 a year. This wine fest does have the potential to generate money.”

Peterson knew one sure way to burn out volunteers was to have many smaller events that don’t garner that much money.

He thought of the idea for a wine fest after attending East Hills Winefest, which was held at Highland Community Library in Richland Township.

“It was a nice event, but the library chose not to continue it,” Peterson added.

“We worked with people on their organizing committee and had a one-year break. It took some time to put the pieces together and get the approval of the board.”

A rain-or-shine event will be possible because of the use of large tents and the availability of the garden’s greenhouse.

The cost of admission will include a collectible wine glass and wine tastings from at least                10 Pennsylvania wineries.

The wines also will be available for purchase by the bottle or case.

Craft beers and artisan cheeses also will be sold.

“Because we have such a large space, we’re going to work out a system to tag purchases and have valet pickup so people don’t have to lug their purchases around,” Peterson said.

“There will be tables under the tents to sit or you could bring a blanket to spread out and have a picnic with wine and cheese.”

There also will be an assortment of foods from five caterers.

Free live music on two stages will feature the Kenny Blake Trio, national jazz recording artists from Pittsburgh, and the more local Doug Wilken Jazz Trio.      

Walk around entertainment will feature a magician and palm reader.                                             

Tethered hot air balloon rides and carriage rides will be available for an additional charge.

“We’re also going to have belly dancers and a caricature artist,” Peterson said.

“We wanted to have a carnival atmosphere.”

Booths will feature an array of art and jewelry from Art Works in Johnstown, and artwork may be purchased.

“We’d like to give more attention to the artists in the future,” Peterson said.

“That’s on our radar for improvements. We want to keep it fun and diverse, having different things to make people happy. It looks like it’s feasible. We see a lot happening.”

The event also will give the public a chance to take a peek at some of the garden’s projects, such as an outdoor classroom, walking trails for people and dogs, a dog park, historic fountain and symbolic trees for each of the eight wars.

Tickets are $25 or two for $40 in advance or $30 or two for $50 at the gate.

Tickets are available at Greater Johnstown Convention and Visitors Bureau, 111 Roosevelt Blvd., Johnstown; Village Street Cafe, 603 Grove Ave. in the Moxham section of Johns-town; The Galleria information booth, Richland Township; Fine Wines and Winemaking, 1801 Stockholm Ave., Windber; and under Sandyvale Wine Festival in Johnstown on Facebook.

Ruth Rice covers Features for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

If you go ...

What: Sandyvale Inaugural Wine Fest.

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 5.

Where: Sandyvale Memorial Gardens and Conservancy, 80 Hickory St., Johnstown.

Tickets: $25 or two for $40 in advance or $30 or two for $50 at the gate.

Information: 536-7993, 800-237-8590 or