LEWISTON — An older man moved closer to Susan Hall, who was pouring samples of an Argentinian Malbec red wine at her Lisbon Street beverage shop, The Vault.
The man peered in, skeptically.
"What if I get a bottle and I don't like it?" he said.
"Well, you can try it here first," Hall responded.
The man's sip of Malbec was one of several firsts at Saturday's inaugural Festival of Art and Lights on lower Lisbon Street.
Judging by the turnout, people seemed to like it.
Despite blustery winds and a day that truly felt like winter, artisans for the first holiday season art walk reported a strong turnout. The wine tasting area at Hall's new shop was never barren of visitors. Quite the opposite.
Hall said the stream of traffic was steady and the attendees enthusiastic.
"I think the idea of supporting local businesses and artists really resonated with people," she said.
That was good news for Diane Stevens, the owner of a Designs of Stone in Norway. Stevens, one of over 40 artists and vendors that set up at 14 locations on Lisbon Street, said she sold several pieces at her table inside The Vault.
Across from Stevens, Ella Magee, of Ella's Candy on Tampa Street, was running short of supplies. Her samples of chocolates and candy were almost gone, so were the items she was selling.
Stevens, along with other vendors, noticed a trend among the comments from visitors.
"A lot of the older residents said today reminded them of the events they used to go to on Lisbon Street," she said. "They're coming in with their grand kids and saying they want that same thing for them some day."
The event, a collaboration between L/A Arts, Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Captive Elements Art House and Lewiston Public Library, was an attempt to bring to Lewiston a sampling of the holiday artisan fairs by other communities but long absent in Lewiston.
"I've never been this busy on a Saturday," said Tammie Grieshaber, one of the organizers and the curator for Gallery 5 on Lisbon Street. "This is exactly what we hoped it would be."
Judging by the missing prints on Grieshaber's walls, she wasn't fibbing. She flipped through her sales receipt book. She'd sold 14 pieces so far. The festival ran from noon to 5 p.m. and there was another 90 minutes to go.
Grieshaber said pulling the event together was the easiest thing she's ever done.
Organizers gathered artists and vendors through Facebook. There was no charge to be a vendor and there's no charge for the kids' activities.
The success of the event may not have been apparent from the street traffic. Most of the attendees ducked into the participating storefronts for a break from the cold and to buy or view paintings, jewelry, pottery and other handmade local products.
Still, some of the activities took place outside. Children participated in chalk art hosted by Art Van across the street from the court house.
As the sun dipped beneath the buildings, the Christmas carolers from Lewiston High School sought refuge inside of Grieshaber's studio. The carolers paid thanks with a rendition of "Jingle Bells."
"This is what we wanted," Grieshaber said. "We want people to know that Lisbon Street is a safe and wonderful place to be."
She said she hopes next year's event will be even bigger.