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Winterfest 2009 in the San Francisco Bay area Celebrates Bicycle Culture

When Winterfest first started in San Francisco 14 years ago it was very different than this year's event. Back then a few hundred ardent bicyclist would buy an assortment of gear and then sit around a fire, drink beer and talk about their latest cycling adventures. Now the party has turned into a major event that includes an art exhibit, raffle, silent auction and fund raiser.

The art exhibit started in 2002, when a few artists were invited to create bicycle themed drawings on paper-covered walls. The result's were then auctioned off to the highest bidder. On display this year will be the work of over sixty Bay Area artists and many will be bike themed.

The auction includes art, gift certificates from elegant bay area restaurants and bicycles such as the newest version of the folding Dahon, Skuut balance bikes for the toddler's, a refurbished vintage tandem, a Schwinn cruiser and a custom bike that will be built to the specifications of the winner. In addition to the auction a large variety of bike gear and bicycle themed crafts such as jewelry, stationery and clothing will be for sale.

The number of people who attend Winderfest each year is now over one thousand and has included bicycle legends like Joe Breeze and Gary Fisher. This year David Byrne the famous lead singer of the Talking Heads dontated a piece of art he created. He is a long time cyclist who takes his bicycle on tour and recently published "Bicycle Diaries," a book about his experiences biking in cities all over the world.

Winterfest is sponsored each December by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Proceeds from the auction go to the coalition and are used to make San Francisco streets more inviting and safer for those using bicycles. Partly as a result of this San Francisco has seen a 53% increase in the number of people riding bicycles since 2006.

The event is sponsored by New Belgium Ale which provides plenty of beer and a great deal of support for the bicycle community.

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