Bay Area fall fairs and festivals

Pub date August 21, 2007

Summer may technically be on the outs, but don’t put away your baggies, huarache sandals, and that bushy, bushy blond hairdo just yet, all you Gidgets and Big Kahunas out there: it’s still Surfin’ USA in the Bay. Hell, summer doesn’t even start in San Francisco until September at the earliest. You can wax up the board and get busy, stuff the kidlets into the Woody, and hit one of the bevy of cool fiestas listed below, or maybe just lay out on a towel in Dolores Park, waiting for a wayward Lothario or Lothariette to rub cocoa butter on your fleshy hind regions. Ah, how good do we have it in the Sucka Free City?

AUG. 25

Jazzy Tomatoes Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center at MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley; (510) 548-3333, 10:30am-3pm. Free. This collaboration between the Downtown Berkeley Jazz Festival series and the Berkeley Farmers’ Market features the sounds of local mandolinist Mike Marshall and Brazilian pianist Jovino Santos Neto, plus the flavors of Venus Restaurant’s Ann Murray.

AUG. 25-26

Bodega Seafood Art and Wine Festival Watts Ranch, 16855 Bodega Ave, Bodega; (707) 824-8717, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $8-12. The sleepy village where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds hosts this celebration of the best beer, wine, and seafood California has to offer. Sip on a Cline Cellars pinot noir and enjoy albacore wrapped in bacon while taking in the sounds of Marcia Ball’s Texas-style roadhouse blues.

Golden Gate Renaissance Festival Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 354-1773, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $5-15. Stilt walkers, fire-eaters, jesters, jousters, knights, peasant wenches, and Shakespeare fetishists abound in the fourth installment of this medieval fair. Amid the feasting and storytelling, you’ll get a chance to practice your chivalry and maybe ride a horse.

AUG. 26

Arab Cultural Festival County Fair Building, Ninth Ave and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF; 10am-7pm. $2-5. Hikayatna (Our stories) is the theme for this year’s Arab Cultural Festival, featuring a bazaar with jewelry, henna, and Arab cuisine, as well as assorted folk and contemporary musical performances.

Taste of Marin St. Vincent’s School for Boys, 1 St. Vincent Dr., San Rafael; (415) 663-9667, 4-10pm. $150. Dedicated to supporting and promoting the exquisite food that is grown and produced in Marin, this event features a silent auction, chances to meet the farmers and chefs, and an elaborate sit-down dinner. Soulstress Maria Muldaur provides the musical entertainment.

AUG. 31-SEPT. 2

Monterey Bay Reggae Fest Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey; (831) 394-6534, The sprawling Monterey County Fairgrounds plays host to this annual festival featuring the liveliest of modern reggae acts. Eek-a-Mouse, Mighty Diamonds, and you-know-who’s brother, Richard Marley Booker, are just a sample of this year’s lineup.

SEPT. 1-3

Art and Soul Oakland Frank Ogawa Plaza and City Center, 14th St. and Clay, Oakl; (510) 444-CITY, 11am-6pm. $5. The seventh incarnation of this annual downtown Oakland festival includes dance performances, lots of art to view and purchase, an expanded Family Fun Zone, and a notably eclectic musical lineup: big-name performers include Lucinda Williams, Against Me!, the Legendary Fillmore Slim, Johnny Rawls, and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

Sausalito Art Festival Army Corps of Engineers-Bay Model Visitor Center and Marinship Park, Sausalito; (415) 331-3757, Check Web site for times. $5-20. The Sausalito waterfront will play host to hundreds of artists’ exhibits as well as family entertainment and top-notch live music from the likes of Jefferson Starship and the Marshall Tucker Band.

SEPT. 1-23

Free Shakespeare in the Park Presidio parade ground, SF; (415) 558-0888, Sat, 7:30pm; Sun and Labor Day, 2:30pm. Free. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream gets a brilliant rendition under the direction of Kenneth Kelleher on the outdoor stage. Families fostering budding lit and theater geeks should take note.


Cowgirlpalooza El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 282-3325, 3-9pm. $10. This sure-to-be-twangy evening on El Rio’s patio features music by the most compellingly country-fried female musicians around, including Kitty Rose, Starlene, Axton Kincaid, Burning Embers, 77 El Deora, and Four Year Bender.

SEPT. 5-9

San Francisco Electronic Music Festival Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida, SF; 8:30pm. $12-16. The seventh in an annual series of weeklong electronica parties. Fred Frith, Annea Lockwood, Univac, and David Behrman round out this year’s lineup.


911 Power to the Peaceful Festival Speedway Meadows, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 865-2170, 11am-5pm. Free. This event calling for international human rights and an end to bombing features art and cultural exhibits and a talk with Amy Goodman, as well as performances by Michael Franti, the Indigo Girls, and DJ Spooky.

SEPT. 8-9

Bay Area Pet Fair Marin Center, 10 Ave of the Flags, San Rafael; (415) 229-3174, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $5-7. This event does double duty as a celebration of companion animals and a venue for a massive pet adopt-athon, so bring the kids and the dog.

Brews on the Bay Jeremiah O’Brien, Pier 45, SF; 12-4:30pm. $8-40. Beer tasting, live music, and food abound at the San Francisco Brewers Guild’s annual on-deck showcase.

Chocolate Festival Ghirardelli Square, 900 N Point, SF; 12-5pm. Free. An indisputably fun weekend at the square includes chocolate goodness from more than 30 restaurant and bakery booths, various activities for kids and families, and a hands-free Earthquake Sundae Eating Contest.


Solano Avenue Stroll Solano between San Pablo and the Alameda in Berkeley and Albany; (510) 527-5358, 10am-6pm. Free. The long-running East Bay block party features a clown-themed parade, art cars, dunk tanks, and assorted artsy offerings of family fun, along with the requisite delicious food and musical entertainment.

SEPT. 15-16

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival Old Mill Park, Mill Valley; (415) 381-8090, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm. $7. Dig this juried show featuring original fine art, including jewelry, woodwork, painting, ceramics, and clothing.

Wisdom Festival Fort Mason Center, SF. (415) 452-0369, Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 10am-7pm. $8-$55. This fest features interactive panels, workshops, symposiums, and lectures, all geared toward your inner Shirley MacLaine.

SEPT. 22-23

Autumn Moon Festival Grant between California and Broadway and Pacific between Stockton and Kearney, SF; (415) 982-6306, 11am-6pm. Free. At one of Chinatown’s biggest annual gatherings you can see an acrobatic troupe, martial artists, street vendors, and, of course, lots of moon cakes. I like the pineapple the best.

SEPT. 28-30

A Taste of Greece Annunciation Cathedral, 245 Valencia, SF; (415) 864-8000, Call or check Web site for time. $5. Annunciation Cathedral’s annual fundraising event is an all-out food festival where you can steep yourself in Greek dishes, wine tasting, and the sounds of Greek Compania.

SEPT. 29-30

World Veg Festival San Francisco County Fair Building, Ninth Avenue and Lincoln, Golden Gate Park, SF; (415) 273-5481. 10am-6pm. $5. For those afraid of hamburgers, this event features speakers, live entertainment, and local cuisine of the meatless variety.

SEPT. 30

Folsom Street Fair Folsom between Seventh and 12th streets, SF; 11am-6pm. Free. The world’s largest leather gathering, coinciding with Leather Pride Week, features a new Leather Women’s Area along with myriad fetish and rubber booths. Musical performers include Ladytron and Imperial Teen, and comedian Julie Brown also will appear.

OCT. 3

Shuck and Swallow Oyster Challenge Ghirardelli Square, West Plaza, 900 North Point, SF; (415) 929-1730. 5pm. Free to watch, $25 per duo to enter. How many oysters can two people scarf down in 10 minutes? Find out as pairs compete at this most joyous of spectacles, then head to the oyster and wine pairing afterward at McCormick and Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant, also in Ghirardelli Square.

OCT. 4-9

Fleet Week Various locations, SF; (650) 599-5057, Cries of “It’s a plane!” and “Now there’s a boat!” shall abound at San Francisco’s impressive annual gathering. Along with ship visits, there’ll be a big air show by the Blue Angels and the Viper West Coast Demonstration Team. And for the lonely among us, North Beach will be assholes and elbows with horny sailors and jarheads.

OCT. 4-14

Mill Valley Film Festival CinéArts at Sequoia, 25 Throckmorton, Mill Valley; 142 Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St, San Rafael; (925) 866-9559, Check Web site for times and prices. Documentaries and features of both the independent and international persuasion get screen time at this festival, the goal of which is insight into the various cultures of filmmaking.

OCT. 5-6

San Francisco Zinefest CELLspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; (415) 750-0991, Fri, 2-8pm; Sat, 11am-7pm. Free. Appreciate the continuing vitality of the DIY approach at this two-day event featuring workshops and more than 40 exhibitors.

OCT. 5-7

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycling Festival King Middle School, 1781 Rose, Berkeley; Fri, 5-10pm; Sat, 9am-10pm; Sun, 9am-5pm. Check Web site for prices. More balls than hands. More feet than wheels.

Pacific Pinball Exposition Marin County Civic Center Exhibition Hall, San Rafael; Fri 2-10pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-12am. $20-35. Focusing on vintage machines, this inaugural festival promises to extol all things pinball. I think you get in free if you’re a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who can play a mean pinball.

OCT. 6-13

Litquake Various locations, SF; San Francisco’s annual literary maelstrom naturally features Q&As and readings by a gazillion local authors, including Daniel Handler, Jane Smiley, Dave Eggers, and Ann Patchett. The gang is honoring local writer Armistead Maupin with a lifetime achievement award.

OCT. 11-14

Oktoberfest by the Bay Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; Check Web site for times. $25. One of the few places your lederhosen won’t look silly is the biggest Oktoberfest left of Berlin, where the Chico Bavarian Band will accompany German food and a whole lotta beer.<\!s>*