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LAGUNA BEACH : Art Festival Crowds Up Over Last Year

Despite gloomy economic news elsewhere in Orange County, two of this city’s three art festivals are reporting higher attendance than last year at the halfway point in their summer run.

As of Monday, Festival of Arts grounds attendance was 94,004, spokesman Tim Wilcox said, which is 6,754 more visitors than at the same date last year.

“I’m frankly a little amazed myself,” he said. “We were braced for a little bit of a downturn because of the regional economic slump. . . . We were concerned about the collective mentality in Orange County in particular. So, for us, it’s been a pleasant surprise.”

Business also is brisk at the Art-A-Fair across the street on Laguna Canyon Road, office manager Mary Ellen Wehrli said.

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“Our attendance is up and our sales are up and it’s been really a delightful summer so far,” Wehrli said. “Big ticket items are selling.”

But Sawdust Festival general manager Darlene Brokaw said admissions there are down about 10%.

All three festivals continue through this month:

* The Festival of Arts, at 650 Laguna Canyon Road, is open daily through Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The Pageant of the Masters, located on the same grounds, is staged nightly at 8:30.

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* The Art-A-Fair Festival, at 777 Laguna Canyon Road, is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

* The Sawdust Festival, next door to the Art-A-Fair show and also continuing through Aug. 27, is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.


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