About 2,500 people attended the eighth annual Harford County Wine Festival at Rockfield Manor in Bel Air Saturday.
"Everybody has just been happy today," Donna Dickey, chair of the festival, said as the event wound down on a sunny and cool early fall evening, and festival-goers jammed to live music from the Baltimore band Don't Stop.
The event is held to benefit the Rockfield Foundation, the nonprofit entity charged with operating the historic house and grounds.
The festival drew wine enthusiasts from around the country to partake of wines from all over the world, even a few representatives of Maryland's wine industry.
"We're just wine lovers," said Pam Gredlein, who's from Oakland in Maryland's westernmost county.
Gredlein's daughter, Christa, who lives in Towson, said she joined her mother, "just to have fun on a nice fall day."
Visitors could also sample olive oils and craft beers, and check out crafts and various articles of clothing and accessories sold by 51 vendors.
"I love just the energy," said Jessica Colton, of Bel Air, who attended with her boyfriend, Benjamin Thrasher, of New Freedom, Pa. "It's fun and upbeat, it's a lot going on and they have a lot of good booths for shopping, keeping you entertained."
They stopped at the GourmetSteve.com booth and dipped small pieces of bread in dishes with various oils and vinegars offered through the Tracy's Landing-based company.
Stephanie Dziwulski, of Bel Air, who also sampled the wares at the GourmetSteve.com booth, made her first visit to the Wine Festival Saturday.
"I would highly recommend this event to other people, absolutely," she said. "There is such a wonderful variety of wines and crafts and other merchandise for sale, and the weather cooperated so well."
Festival visitors could groove to the sounds of Don't Stop, plus Harford County duo Ed & Rick and the Amish-themed band The Amish Outlaws.
The bands played on top of a hill overlooking the portion of the Rockfield property known as "the bowl," and children ran up and rolled down the hill as the sun set Saturday evening.
"It's been family friendly," Dickey said.
LeAndra Ross, of Indianapolis, came to the Wine Festival with her stepmother.
She noted that the Indiana city has "has its own wine festival, so this is right up my alley."
Ross said she had noticed "a lot of Moscato" among the Maryland-based wine vendors, when asked her thoughts on The Free State's wines.
"It's interesting to see what wines are more prevalent in certain areas, compared to other areas," she said.
Forty wine vendors operated booths at the festival, along with seven local food vendors, including the new Main Street Oyster House, festival director Dickey said Sunday. Main Street Oyster House is moving into the downtown Bel Air building formerly occupied by Dark Horse Saloon.
Dickey also recognized the 200 volunteers who supported the Wine Festival, and stated in an e-mail that the Rockfield Foundation could not have had "a successful event" without support from local marines, Explorer organizations, the Bel Air Police Department, the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company and MaGerks Pub and Grill, whose staff helped man the front gate.