Visitors to Sunday's final day of the Lodi Grape Festival described the afternoon as a mellow, relaxing day to take in all the festival has to offer without the big crowds.
"It's easy to get around," Lodi resident Rick Sexton, a 45-year veteran of the festival, said while relaxing at a shaded table. "You can walk up to the games and the food booths with only one or two people in front of you.
"We were here (Saturday) night, and it was elbow-room only," Sexton said. "It's a different kind of crowd."
Night crowds cater more to teens and young adults, Sexton said, while Sunday afternoons had more young families with elementary school-age children.
The newest attraction to the Grape Festival this year is the "Sling Shot," where people were slung 235 feet high in 1.8 seconds. That translates to 100 mph.
John Ward of Lodi was smiling as he got off the Sling Shot.
"That was a blast," Ward told his family.
However, Ward is a veteran of rather scary rides and roller coasters -- "I did Superman at Great America," he said -- so Ward wasn't frightened about the Sling Shot.
"I was a little tense on the first one," Ward said. "It was like slow motion. The second time, I was more relaxed. There was no stress. It was nice and comfortable."
Doug McArthur, who takes the Sling Shot along the fair circuit from his home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, said the crowd for the new attraction was better during the evening prime time. It helped that there was disc jockey-generated music and beer sales nearby.
"They got a little bit of liquid courage before they go," McArthur quipped.
Sexton, who didn't take the ride, said the $25 cost for the Sling Shot was a bit steep for a small-town festival, especially since the ride lasts only a minute, if that.
"Most lawyers can't make that," Sexton said.
People certainly came to the Grape Festival for different reasons. Carol Furgal, attending her second festival after moving to Stockton from New Mexico last year, said her favorite food is the "sweet corn."
"And of course, the wine's always good," Furgal said, glass in hand.
Her daughter, Fresno resident Stephanie Furgal, enjoyed the bonsai exhibit.
Lodi resident Lorri Kenny, walking through Burgundy Hall looking at the grape exhibits, knew what she liked best.
"I would say the murals," she said. "To me, they say 'Grape Festival.' "
Kenny also enjoyed the table settings and the reptile house, but she cringed at the thought of the Sling Shot.
Craig Gorbet of Lodi, a lifelong Grape Festival patron, called the event "same as usual."
"Always good food to eat," Gorbet said, munching on some enchiladas. "I usually have the rib eye."
For Sexton, it's anything from Lockeford Sausage.
"Sauerkraut, onion, bratwurst -- a foot long at least -- yeh, baby!" he said.
Patrons also shared some ideas for how the Grape Festival could be improved.
Gorbet and Lodi resident Sheila Wages said they were disappointed in the quality of entertainment. The Fabulous Drifters, who performed Thursday night, produced many hit records in the 1950s and '60s, but the music was too old for Wages and Gorbet. So was the old Beatles music performed by Rain, the Beatles tribute band.
Carol Furgal, the New Mexico transplant, wasn't so disappointed in the entertainment. However, she regrets that it's all after 5 p.m.
Furgal was disappointed that two vendors from last year -- one who sold glass nail files and another with Australian hats -- weren't back this year.
Another disappointment, Furgal said, was that there weren't as many vendors this year where she and her daughter could buy Christmas presents. However, she did buy some sea salt, which can be used in place of soap, that will end up under someone's Christmas tree.
There seemed to be more political booths and sales of items like water purification systems and Mary Kay products and less of the kinds of things they hoped to find, Carol Furgal said.
"I'd like to see more educational things like the reptile house," her daughter, Stephanie Furgal said. "Education isn't lost on older people."
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.