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Allen's sea glass artistry at Harvest Festival's final day at Fairgrounds

Planning Commission chairwoman making 1st appearance as exhibitor

Nancy Allen, a jewelry artist, entrepreneur and also the chairwoman of the Pleasanton Planning Commission is featuring her first exhibit at the annual Harvest Festival, which ends its three-day run at the Alameda County Fairgrounds at 5 p.m. today.

The event is one of the top-rated craft shows in the country, offering over 24,000 handmade American arts and crafts. Shoppers can browse original art, jewelry, clothing, specialty foods, home decor and more.

Although Allen has spent more than 25 years living in Pleasanton, her heart belongs to the sea, according to Liz Rosinski, a spokeswoman for the Harvest Festival.

As a lifelong surfer and ocean lover, Allen would constantly come in contact with and collect sea glass. It wasn't until she retired from the corporate world that she decided to use that love of sea glass to create her own jewelry company, Monterey Bay Sea Glass.

"With sea glass, no two pieces are the same," Allen said. "So if you are creating a set of earrings, it could take days and months to find stones which are similar in size and color."

What many people may not know is that sea glass is becoming harder and harder to find, she adds. Because of more stringent litter laws, greater use of plastic and more people collecting, sea glass isn't turning up on beaches in the same quantity it used to. Plus, many of the best places to collect sea glass are in treacherous locations which aren't easily accessible.

One of the goals of Monterey Bay Sea Glass is to remain a green and sustainable company, Allen said. She always carries an extra bag with her when she collects sea glass and fills it with real garbage in an effort to reduce beach waste.

"The Harvest Festival offers Pleasanton residents the chance to conveniently shop in their own backyard while also bringing new business and tax revenue to the city," said Allen, who will join 250 other artisans exhibiting and selling at the show.

The Festival has partnered with the Crown Monarchs Youth Cheer and Dance Team of Brentwood, naming it as its designated charity. The organization will receive half of the proceeds from all shopping bags sold at the Harvest Festival over the weekend event. The Monarchs will also be hosting the hands-on KidZone which offers make-and-take art and craft activities.

The Harvest Festival is also supporting the Alameda County Community Food Bank by offering $2 off a regular or senior admission to anyone who brings a non-perishable food donation to the event.

In addition to arts and crafts. the Festival will feature a wide array of entertainment, including the Hot Rods, a band that plays the tunes of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and more. Another featured performer will be John Park, a comedic daredevil, Big Mama Sue and Fast Eddie strolling the grounds and WC Willy, who will be towering high above the crowds as he roams the fairgrounds on his stilts.

The Harvest Festival is open today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $9, $7 for seniors 62 and older, $4 for those 13-17 years old, with no charge for children 12 year old and younger.

Parking at the Fairgrounds is $8.

For more information, sign on to the Festival's website at www.harvestfestival.com or call 1-800-346-1212.

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