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Boca or Bust

Early August is the pinnacle of the summer doldrums. Even the last of the snowbirds have abandoned us for their houses in the Hamptons or on Martha's Vineyard, and the locals are sitting in their homes with the air conditioning on full blast.

In an area that makes a sizable chunk of its cash flow from the tourist trade, times are lean. Most cities in South Florida buckle down and keep a low profile these days. But not Boca Raton, where over-the-top is a way of life. Rather than give up on drawing a crowd in the off-season, the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce organizes Boca Festival Days, a monthlong series of events and programs. It's that Field of Dreams philosophy: "If you build it, they will come."

This year Festival Days begins with Wine and All That Jazz Friday at 6 p.m. For $50 participants can sample more than 100 wines while taking in jazzy tunes at the official kickoff event, held at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. From there the happenings seem to take two separate and distinct paths.

The first is for those who continue along the Wine and All That Jazz vein. It includes Celebration of Summer, a gourmet food and winetasting affair on August 10, which offers silent and live auctions and music along with great food and grape-induced inebriation. Other charitable events include the American Cancer Society's Ale-abration and the Boca Raton Museum of Art's Bacchanalia Series.

But the second route was designed for those people who can't find a responsible teenager to watch their kids while they go out and drink themselves silly in the name of charity. And since responsible teenager is something of an oxymoron, these family-friendly events should be packed -- especially the Boca Raton Public Library's Farewell to Summer party, which features face-painting, a clown on stilts, and the music of J.C. Sunshine.

Though it all commences this Friday, Boca Festival Days promises an entire month of activities. If you can stand the heat, get out of the air conditioning -- for a little while, at least.

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Dan Sweeney
Contact: Dan Sweeney

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