CRISPNESS AND CRAFTS: If something about mornings turning a bit crisper at their edges -- you know that feeling, that arrives just around 7 a.m., that says a new season is about to dosey-do this way at any moment -- and school fairs selling crafty goods gets your blood a-stirrin', then autumn must be your Official Favorite Time of the Year. (Don't feel guilty -- we all have one or two.) It is a time known for brisker mornings and scholastic fundraisers full of homemade treats and items, but only in a few places do those two elements reach their zenith. And at the top of that cinnamon-scented, calico-lined ladder? Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show. The traveling mega-vendor mega-everything show toodles around California and the West throughout the autumn months, landing in various centers and locations that are large enough to hold thousands and thousands of items. There will be well over 24,000 goods for sale in Ventura over the first weekend of October, meaning you'll want to spend a goodly chunk of your day eyeing each eyelet-frilled apron and jar of apple butter and hand-carved wooden jewelry box and walking stick and silver dangly gemstone earring. There are, in fact, hundreds of vendors, all with a craft-eye and artistic heart, so whether you find a holiday gift or several small goodies for yourself is up to you. (Our guess? Both.)
DATES AND CITIES: Pleasanton is the first of the California cities, over the last weekend of summer -- that's Sept. 19 through 21 -- and Pomona rounds it all out over the first weekend of December. Ventura is early October, San Jose is the Friday through Sunday following Thanksgiving, and everywhere it goes the fest'll have entertainment, tunes, kidly haps, and food-to-buy (for noshing on there, not the tied-up-in-ribbons munch mixes and cookies you'll see among the vendors). Are you feeling the autumn wave, the one that intersects with craft-cute, art-sophisticated shopping? Check out the schedule and many talented vendors and eye-and-palate-delighting categories the festival boasts.