The 32nd annual Downtown Washington Fine Art Fair and Winefest is happening this weekend.

If the weather cooperates, organizers expect upward of 25,000 people to converge over three days in the historic center of Washington to partake in what has evolved into one of Missouri’s premier fine arts festivals.

The Art Fair and Winefest is a big deal.

The festival is Downtown Washington’s premier event and one of the biggest drivers of tourism for Washington and the entire region. People come from near and far to check out the artists’ wares and to sample Missouri wines, which are featured at the event.

The event has become an important cog in Missouri’s growing agritourism industry. It helps promote our local wine industry by showcasing the products that are produced in this area.

More than 60 wines from 14 Missouri wineries will be poured for tasting and local representatives from the wineries will be on hand to discuss their products. It’s a great way to get to know the fruits of our local vintners, which continue to evolve and win accolades.

The Art Fair and Winefest has been good for Downtown Washington because it brings people to the heart of the city, which is enjoying a period of sustained redevelopment. The event is a good way to show off the investment that the city and civic leaders have made in the historic part of this river town. While it’s hard to measure the overall economic impact of the event, it is no doubt sizeable.

We have watched the Art Fair and Winefest grow from its humble and austere origins in the early 1980s when it lost money to one of the premier events of its kind anywhere in the state.

That doesn’t just happen magically. It takes a lot of planning and hard work. Give credit to Downtown Washington, Inc. for leading this transformation. The organization has developed this event into a first-class, family-friendly powerhouse.

Like the Washington Town and Country Fair, the Art Fair and Winefest requires year-round planning and an army of volunteers to execute. The 35-member committee that oversees the event is backed up by another 100 or so volunteers who help run it. They have our respect and appreciation.

If you are looking for a fun way to spend the weekend and kick off the summer, head to Downtown Washington this weekend.

You won’t be disappointed.