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Lodi Grape Festival ends on a high note

Baboons, butterflies, tasty food and perfect weather draw big crowds this year

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Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 10:00 am, Wed Sep 18, 2013.

The weather was perfect, the new attractions were popular and the entertainment was great, resulting in a very successful Lodi Grape Festival in 2013.

So says festival Manager Mark Armstrong, who was getting ready for the final night of the festival on Sunday.

Some years, the Grape Festival doesn’t draw so well, Armstrong said. If the weather is hot, people won’t show up in the daytime. If it’s cold, they won’t come at night. And once in a while, the festival even gets hit by rain.

Not only was the weather outstanding this year, but organizers beefed up security to make it safer for festival-goers, said Armstrong and Lodi police Lt. Steve Nelson.

Armstrong added that three new attractions were quite popular — Wild About Monkeys, Butterfly Adventures and “Tractor Town,” a play area for children.

At the Wild About Monkeys show, Kevin and Martina Keith displayed some baboons who have been on TV and the movies. One was Mickey, who starred with Tom Cruise in the movie “Rock of Ages” in 2012.

Mickey hammed it up big time and clapped his hands when Kevin Keith told the audience, “All of these animals know applause.”

Another baboon, Dagney, kept stealing Keith’s hat and putting it on her head.

“You know what’s great about having a baboon for an assistant?” Keith asked the audience. “Your work really is for peanuts.”

During its four-day run, the Grape Festival had its usual staple of live concerts, grape murals and all kinds of decadent foods, including “monster-size” corn dogs, the always popular Lockeford Sausage, Merlot-infused cupcakes, a peanut butter and grape jelly funnel cake, deep-fried peanut butter and jelly and a whole lot of beer.

See you next year.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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