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Spirited Confluence Festival raises canyon awareness, funds

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The wines as well as the river were flowing at the American River Confluence Festival this past weekend. Organizers were giving top ratings to a wine tasting on the Saturday evening preceding the Sunday festival and already talking about having it back again next year. Eight wineries – seven from Auburn and one from Loomis – plus the Sierra Nevada brewery took part in the tasting. “Quite by chance, the California State Fair Wine Competition results were announced earlier in the day and several of the 22 wines poured Saturday evening had won silver, gold or best-of-class awards,” said Gordy Ainsleigh, Protect American River Canyons member and event organizer. Ainsleigh said the event is a natural to be part of the confluence festival again next year. This year’s participants from Auburn area were Baumbach Wines, Dono dal Cielo Winery, Fawnridge, Green Family Winery, Lone Buffalo Vineyards, Mt. Vernon Winery, Secret Ravine Vineyard and Vina Castellano. Eric Peach, a Protect American River Canyons board member, said the the goal of the event was to help shed more light on the value of the river and canyons. “We hope we created a lot of goodwill within the community,” Peach said. “It’s an uncertain time, with the Bureau of Reclamation wanting to bow out.” While the final attendance figures were unknown for the free event, Peach said the event at the Auburn Overlook Park was “packed” between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday. Children’s arts and crafts, booths with maps and trail information and a performance by Grammy-winning Native American flutist Mary Youngblood proved popular he said. “Spring Flow,” a glass artwork donated by Auburn sculptor Deanna Marsh, topped the bids at a silent auction, raising $500 for Protect American River Canyons, Peach said. Final costs were being tallied but the festival made a profit and money will be pooled with a Canyon Keepers grant to complete an informational panel that will be placed at the confluence, he said. – Gus Thomson