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Crowd Flocks to Homestead Valley Fest

Great local music, excellent weather and a mix of food and fun draw throngs to community center meadow Sunday.

A record number of attendees flocked to the meadow by the Homestead Valley Community Center on Sunday afternoon, drawn by a combination of great weather, local food and a stellar line up of bands, including headliner and hometown hero Vinyl and West African sensation Baba Ken and the Nigerian Brothers.

"It's a beautiful day, what more could you ask for?" Baba Ken told the crowd, which organizers estimated at more than 1,200.

The event, an ancestor of live music events in Homestead that date back 50 years, drew neighbors from Mill and Homestead valleys and throughout the Bay Area. The place was hopping early on, with families showing up at 11am to catch the first rounds of local beverages provided by Mill Valley Beerworks and Mexican cuisine from Grilly's on Miller Avenue.

After waking up to another foggy morning in San Francisco, Jake Louderback found about the festival online and brought his wife and daughter.

"It's a nice combination of stuff for adults and kids."

Celeste Mirassou from Homestead Valley attended for the first time also.

"I'm impressed they can do so much and keep the cost down on food and beverages," Mirassou said. "Any time you can get food at a music festival for under $10 that's pretty good."

"This festival is really manageable. At bigger ones you have to fight the crowds," said Christa Reynolds, a yoga teacher from Sausalito who frequents Bay Area music festivals.

Home-baked goods for sale and a silent auction helped raise a few thousand dollars, according to event organizer Bob Westbrook. The proceeds will go to the Homestead Valley Community Association and be used for community improvements.

Community center neighbors danced out on their decks with a front row seat to see Vinyl, a band that was born in Homestead Valley, taking shape in Jonathan Korty's house on Evergreen Ave. in 1994. The band combines old school funk with Latin, reggae and jazz sounds, and got many festival-goers up on their feet and dancing, beer in hand, many with the kids at their side.

"It's sunny and soulful and a wonderful community experience, replete with dancing and fun for all," said Homestead Valley resident Leslie Bennett. "It was good last year but I particularly liked the Nigerian band this year."

Westbrook said he hopes to continue to make the festival, now in its fourth year, a tradition in Homestead Valley that continues live music events in the region dating back to a series of three Candlelight Concerts in Brown's Hall that began in 1960 and the Mozart Festival in Stolte Grove, which began a year later and lasted for more than 40 years.

"The whole thing was a tremendous success," Westbrook said.

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