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Rya Fabre, 3, of Marina pushes her dog, Baylee down the road during the 2014 Sand City West End celebration on Sunday in Sand City. (Vernon McKnight - Herald Correspondent)

SAND CITY >> The West End Festival is a vibe.

It's live graffiti art and the smell of spray paint and the infectious thump of a live band covering Guns 'N' Roses' "Sweet Child O Mine."

It's pop-up Lego art exhibits in front yards and youth drum lines going for broke.

It's Sand City studios showcasing unique displays, like a piece of body armor made of old car bumpers.

It's pets being pushed on skateboards and the irresistible aroma of bacon wrapped hot dogs and a beautiful Peninsula afternoon being put to good use by thousands of eager festivalgoers.

The 2014 edition of Sand City's gift to Monterey County wrapped up Sunday, with several thousand attendees walking through Ortiz Avenue and its side streets, bringing a joyous atmosphere and abundance of spirit.

"I love this town," said Sand City resident Kristen Fuentes, perched under a canopy set up in the front yard of her home on the corner of Hickory and Redwood, one block up from the festival's epicenter at the Independent building.

Fuentes transformed her short front yard into a pop-up art exhibit: a scaled version of the entire West End community made up entirely of Legos building blocks.

The replica community included such West End landmarks as the aforementioned Independent building, the Carmel Stone Imports building, P.G. Mill Works, DL Motor Sports and all of the surrounding neighborhoods.

And in case you were lost, there was a red sign pointing to a replica of Fuentes' home, inscribed with the words "You Are Here."


"It's really cool to have a sense of community here," said Fuentes, a rabid Lego collector. The West End construction took about two weeks to complete. She estimated it had between 4,000 to 5,000 pieces in total.

Up the block, Salinas' Urban Arts Collaborative was spray painting a mural it dubbed "A Happening." In its early stages, the piece featured palm trees and other flourishes of landscape.

J.C. Gonzales, a program mentor and founder, said the piece was meant to reflect the access to the arts that West End Festival provided.

"It's 'A Happening' because (West End Festival) is happening," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the collaborative was happy to be involved with the festival as an opportunity to share its crafts and talents with other artists.

The collaborative showcased two other installations: "The Jack," a large exhibit that resembled a giant toy jack. And a series of Crayola crayons that stood about six feet tall.

Each piece was constructed from used 50-gallon oil barrels and each will soon be put on public display. The Jack will be installed at Cesar Chavez Library in Salinas. The crayons will go up in Sand City, where they will be visible from Highway 1.

"I'm definitely enjoying myself," said Gonzalez. "It's important we have these types of events in our community."

That sentiment was echoed by Craig Hubler, Sand City Councilman and chair of the Sand City Arts Committee, which sponsors the West End Festival.

Hubler was stationed at his work studio on Hickory Street. A metal fabricator and bronze sculptor, Hubler is vested in the event as both a participant and organizer.

"I love connecting with the other artists," said Hubler, who credited the festival's success to event director Steven Vagnini and his organizational team. "I believe art is a communal thing. It's not a selfish thing. I'm all about collaboration."

This year's event featured a total of 150 artists in all mediums, visual and performance. That was up from a total of 100 in 2013. Next year, there should be even more, Hubler said.

That is the key to the festival's popularity: it's an immersive arts experience punctuated by the never-ending rhythm of music audible at each turn.

"The music is great," said festival attendee Kathleen Marcus of Carmel.

Cradling a half-full glass of wine from Pierce Ranch Vineyards, Marcus said the festival provided a great chance to enjoy arts and crafts, people-watch, and soak in the vibe.

"This is one to come back to each year," said Marcus.