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Beautiful weather, live, lively jazz, olive-based fare and wine-tasting greeted attendees at the 8th annual Jazz and Olive Festival, held June 9 at Lavinia Campbell Park in Los Olivos.

The festival was sponsored by the Inn at Mattei’s Tavern and the Los Olivos Rotary Club, with all proceeds going to The Los Olivos Rotary Foundation for its many beneficial projects and scholarships. Most tickets were purchased by telephone or online from patrons hailing from as far as Connecticut, said Rotary International president W. Peter Robbins. Roughly two-thirds of attendees were from outside of the area, providing a financial boost to the Valley.

“There are vintner’s festivals that have wine and food, and places that have food and music, but nobody combines wine, food and music like we do,” Robbins said.

Added event chariman Jim Lohnas, “The festival morphed into a bigger and bigger event over the years, but our goal was always to make it a first-class operation.” A limit of 650 people was admitted to the event, which included 35 amateur and professional chefs, wine from 28 local vintners, and three olive vendors selling only olive products. Professional chefs held cooking demonstrations at the Grange Hall. Chef Giorgio Curti of the famous Santa Ynez eatery Trattoria Grappolo made Tiramisu, an Italian cake and dessert, and Jeff Nichols of the Brothers restaurant fame, fixed up a pork cuisine. Live jazz was performed by the Los Angeles Jazz “A Team,” featuring Grammy nominated singer Denise Donatelli, musician Stefan Karlsson, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Jeff D’Angelo, drummer Dan Schnelle and guitarist Bear Erickson.

Three judges oversaw an amateur chef contest for prizes in three different categories. Sue Doherty won the prize for taste for her Sopa de olivos; Gerry Shepherd won for uniqueness for her chocolate-stuffed olives; and Steve Berg was bestowed the most “olivey” prize for his smoked olives.

“The festival started by the club as a small fundraiser for charities and for various rotary clubs,” Lohnas noted. “We wanted something community-based, and we thought we should celebrate the history of the olive agricultural base of Los Olivos.”

jfoster@syvjournal.com