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GRAPEVINE -- Thousands of people will visit downtown Grapevine this weekend for the annual Grapefest event.

The annual wine festival kicks off Thursday, and the most notable change for visitors might not be at the festival itself, but getting there.

Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau officials say access to the 27-year-old festival has never been better. The DFW Connector, where several highways all converge on Grapevine, is complete in most directions.

'We've got a lot of new lanes and a lot of new ways to get here,' said Barry Lewis, marketing director for the Grapevine Convention and Visitor's Bureau. 'There is very easy access. A lot of construction is completely done.'

Event planners say there should only be one traffic issue; northbound SH 121 and northbound Highway 360 coming into Grapevine will close Friday at 8 p.m., and reopen late Saturday morning. Drivers are urged to exit Stone Myers Parkway, park, and take a shuttle in.

'I think it will be more convenient and less traffic, which is good,' said Grapefest visitor Adrienne Johnson.

Grapefest officials have added buses and space to their park and shuttle at Grapevine Mills. 55 passenger coaches will take visitors from the lot to the festival's South gate.

'By having the large coaches out of Grapevine Mills, the additional parking spaces that are out there just makes it easier access,' Lewis said.

Grapefest planners are expecting more than 200,000 people for the four-day event. They say if the weather holds out, the crowds could be even larger.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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