Street fairs and fall festivals


IF YOU’VE been wondering where all the headline acts and theater companies go in that long gloomy stretch before the fall season, take a look at some of the entertainment featured in the following fairs and harvest festivals. Not only do Bay Area late-summer and autumn celebrations provide space for artists, craftpeople and nonprofit organizations to peddle their wares, many feature performers like Maxine Howard, Modern Jazz Quartet, the Asian American Dance Collective and many, many more. In part two of our third annual guide to Bay Area street fairs, we’ve listed TK celebrations from the beginning of August through October. Unless otherwise noted, the fairs — and the entertainment — are free. For more information, or in case you’d like to participate, call the telephone number listed at the end of each festival description.

August 1-2

Nihonmachi Street Fair The streets of Japantown come to life with live entertainment, food booths, arts and crafts and games. Headliners on Saturday include the top-40 group Desire, while Sunday features jazz recording artist Deems Tsutakawa. On both days, Spirit of Polynesia, the Asian American Dance Collective and the Chinatown Lion Dance Collective perform ethnic dances. The event also features Children’s World, with activities and arts and crafts designed especially for two-to 12-year-olds. 11 am-5 pm in Japantown, Post and Buchanan, SF. 922-8700.

Aug 7-???


August 7-9

ACC Craft Fair From custom-made saddles and porcelain lamps to cedarwood desks and ornamental jewelry, this fair highlights the distinctive work of 300 artists from across the nation, including 75 from Northern California. All of the artists are chosen on the basis of integrity of design and excellence of execution, and the show’s organizers say they hope to elevate crafts into a major industry and an important art form. Adults, $4; children under 12 free. Fri., 11 am-8 pm; Sat., 11 am-6 pm; Sun., 11 am-5 pm. Fort Mason Center, Piers 2 and 3, Bay and Laguna, SF. 526-5073.

August 15

Reggae Explosion, ’87 Presented in the style and tradition of Jamaica’s famous annual Sun Splash concert, this event features Haitian art, Caribbean crafts and Jamaican cuisine, as well as dance, poetry, raffles and prizes. Musical artists include the internationally known Don Carlos and his Freedom Fighters Band, Strictly Roots and the sweet steel drums of Val Serrant. $8 in advance; $10 at the door. 1-11 pm, Fort Mason Center, Pier 3. Sponsored by the Western Addition Cultural Center. 921-7976.

August 22-23

Palo Alto Celebrates the Arts Festival Wine tasting and dancing in the streets will bring even more sunshine to Palo Alto’s University Avenue. Wares include high-quality ceramics and pottery ranging from dinnerware and stoneware as well as paintings, prints and one-of-a-kind furniture to decorate and distinguish the home. 10 am-6 pm, University Ave., Palo Alto. Sponsored by the Downtown Palo Alto Arts Fair Committee. 346-4446.

August 22-September 27

The Renaissance Pleasure Fairs A large grove of live oaks provides the setting for spirited pageants and merry parades that attempt to recreate a 16th-century Elizabethan country village. The Northern California Renaissance Fair is an autumn harvest festival, with music and dancing, hearty foods and rare hand-made crafts. Queen Elizabeth and her court are among the more than 1,000 costumed entertainers. Visitors are encouraged to arrive in period dress and join the fun. Adults, $10.50; seniors, $8.50; children under 12 free. Weekends and Labor Day, 10 am-6 pm. Located at the Blackpoint Forest in Novato, Hwy 37 to the Blackpoint exit. Sponsored by the Living History Center. 620-0433.

August 27-30

San Francisco Fair and International Exposition This year’s fair has an international flavor with its theme “San Francisco: Gateway to the Pacific.” San Francisco’s sister cities of Manila, Osaka, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei and Hong Kong each have their own pavilion, to exhibit the individuality and heritage of each city and country, and highlight San Francisco’s thriving relationship with her sister cities. The fair also features a wine pavilion, a San Francisco history exhibit and, of course, the famous contest program, featuring such past favorites as the “Financial District Strut,” the “Impossible Parking Space Race,” the winners of the Bay Guardian Cartoon Contest and new additions including the “SF Safe Sex Button,” and “Freeways to Nowhere.” Adults, $5; seniors, $3; youth aged 5-15, $2; children under 5, free. Aug. 27th is “Youth Day” (all youth 15 and under admitted free); Aug. 28th is “Senior Day” (seniors admitted for $1.50). 11 am-9 pm, Civic Auditorium, Brooks Hall, Civic Center Plaza, SF. 557-8758.

September 4-6

122nd Annual Scottish Gathering and Games Come join 40,000 Scots for three days of music, dancing, food and contests. Highlights include the Highland Dancing Championships and the Caber Tossing Championship (a caber is a log the size of a telephone pole tossed end-over-end for accuracy). More than 50 clans are expected to set up tents and display their family tartans and coats of arms. Tickets for the Friday night Musical Pageant and Twilight Tattoo are $5 grandstand; $6 box seat, 8 pm, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Sat. and Sun., adults, $11 one day, $16 both days; youth 11-16, $6 each day; seniors, $5 each day; children under 11, free. Sponsored by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. 897-4442.

September 5-6

A la Carte, a la Park Here’s your chance to picnic with more than 60 top Bay Area restaurants — De Paula’s, Firehouse Bar-B-Q, Vanessi’s Nob Hill and Hunan, among others — presenting their specialties at special prices to benefit the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Free-Shakespeare-In-The-Park program. Sample the great cuisines of the world while enjoying a series of classical and jazz performances and samplings from the drama of William Shakespeare. $2.50 voluntary donations encouraged. 11 am-6 pm, in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow on JFK Drive across from McClaren Lodge, SF. 441-4422.

September 5-7

Concord Fall Fest This fourth annual Labor Day weekend festival, held in Todos Santos Park, features grape stomps, chili cook-offs and a 10K run. Less energetic fairgoers can enjoy an open-air marketplace of arts and crafts, food booths and live music. 10 am-6 pm, Concord (take Willow Pass Road exit from 689). Sponsored by the Concord Chamber of Commerce. 346-4446.

September 5-7

Sausalito Art Festival One of Northern California’s largest outdoor fine arts exhibitions, the 35th annual art festival is held along the beautiful Sausalito waterfront. More than 100 artists and craftsmen from around the world exhibit a total of 4,000 works of art. A variety of non-stop entertainment will be provided, along with 26 international food booths. Festivities begin Friday night, Sept. 4th, with fireworks and a black-tie party. The Breakers to Bay run begins along the Pacific at Fort Cronkhite in Marin at 8:30 am (register by August 18th). Adults, $3; children 6-12, $2; under 6, free. 10 am-6 pm, Bridgeway and Litho, Sausalito. Sponsored by the Sausalito Chamber of Commerce. 332-0505.

September 7

Arts Explosion This Labor Day festival celebrates the end of summer with a bang (fireworks) and launches the fall arts season. Complementing the showcase of outstanding Bay Area musicians and dance companies will be original performance works; “art by the yard” and a sculpture “glue booth” for children of all ages; an “Arts Row” with a variety of opportunities to interact with local arts organizations. Children under 12 free; adults, $1. 11 am-9 pm, Estuary Park on Embarcadero West, Oakl. Sponsored by the Oakland Festival of the Arts. 444-5588.

September 12-13

Russian River Jazz Festival Bring your suntan lotion, beach chairs, blankets and swimsuits, and swing to the sounds of the legendary Nancy Wilson, Maynard Ferguson and High Voltage, the Wayne Shorter Quintet and a host of others. This year, the festival features two stages set at the river’s edge, with a spectacular backdrop of redwood-covered mountains. Food and crafts will also be available. $23 single day; $42 for both days. Located at Midway Beach near Guerneville. (707) 887-1502.

September 12-13

15th Annual San Francisco Blues Festival The oldest ongoing blues festival in the U.S. offers two days of performances by blues greats from around the country, an unmatched view of the Bay and a superb array of New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine. Saturday’s music lineup includes Johnny Winter, Lonnie Brooks and Oakland’s own Maxine Howard, and on Sunday Roomful of Blues, Albert Collins and Memphis Slim play. $10 in advance; $12 at the door; $16 for a special two-day ticket available in advance only. Noon-6 pm at the Great Meadow, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF. 826-6837.

September 13

24th Street Merchants’ Cultural Festival The 24th Street Fair celebrates Latin American Independence as well as creating a community gathering for artists, residents and merchants. Visitors can enjoy Latin American food and arts and crafts with a Latin theme. A plethora of information booths provides literature on community activities and five stages continuous entertainment by local groups. 11 am-6 pm, 24th St. from South Van Ness to Potrero, SF. Sponsored by the Mission Economic and Cultural Association. 826-1401.

September 18-20

30th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Monterey Jazz Festival swings again, this year featuring more than 25 superstars, including Ray Charles, The Modern Jazz Quartet, B.B. King, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Etta James and Bobby McFerrin. The event also features food and merchandise booths, and the sponsor, MCI Communications, offers visitors the opportunity to call anywhere in the U.S. free of charge. Although the main stage events are sold out, grounds admissions tickets are still available and allow the bearer access to the outdoor Garden Stage and the indoor Nightclub, which host many of the headliners. $15 a day. Fri., 5 pm-midnight; Sat., noon-midnight; Sun., noon-10 pm. 775-2021.

September 19-20

Mill Valley Festival More than 100 artists, selected by a jury, exhibit their wares at this arts-and-crafts fair set in a beautiful redwood grove. Food, continuous on-stage entertainment and activities for children make this one of the premiere fine arts festivals in the country. Voluntary donations requested. 10 am-6 pm, Old Mill Park, Throckmorton and Old Mill, Mill Valley. 381-0525.

September 19-20

Pan-Pacific Exposition Art and Wine Festival This city-wide festival is held on the site of the 1915 World’s Fair. Horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars transport visitors to the glories of bygone days as the festival celebrates the highlights of San Francisco history. Enjoy ragtime music, a historic fashion show and pennyfarthing bicycle races. Several wine gardens offer premium wines from select California vineyards. 10 am-6 pm, Marina Green, Lyon and Marina, across from the Palace of Fine Arts, SF. Sponsored by the San Francisco Council of District Merchants. 346-4446.

September 20

Folsom: Dimension IV! Now in its fourth year, this fair has established itself as the “End of Summer” celebration. Staged on the equinox of 1987, the fair again features the mascot “Megahood,” who breathes fire and smoke over the crowds. Entertainment includes the Folsom All Stars, the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra and Viola Wills. Expect high-energy performances and technological innovations and one of the most diverse display of local artistry and crafts. The fair is a benefit for the San Francisco Aids Emergency fund and the South of Market Community Association. 11 am-7 pm, Folsom between 7th and 12th St., SF. Sponsored by Budweiser Corporation. 863-8579.

September 26-27

The Pacific Coast Fog Fest Visitors to the Pacific coastline are treated to historical and humorous displays at the Fog Fest. Diners may feast on seafood and of course fogcutters are the featured cocktails. Vintage cars, arts, crafts, continuous entertainment and fog-calling contests make this a welcome new Bay Area event. 10 am-6 pm. Located on Palmetto Ave., between Shoreview and Santa Rosa in Pacifica, Hwy 1 to Paloma exit. Sponsored by the City of Pacifica. 346-4446.

October 2-4

Fiesta Italiana A weekend family event, this year’s fair promises to be the “Besta Festa.” The celebration of Italian-American culture features Italian cooking demonstrations, wine tasting and grape stomping. Mayor Dianne Feinstein is scheduled to cut the pasta ribbon to open the ceremonies, Sergio Franchi will headline with two shows a day and the Italian design Ford Concept Car is on display. Fireworks are scheduled for the end of each day. Adults $8; children $1.50; Seniors and disabled $5 (free from noon-6 pm on the 2nd). Noon-midnight, noon-10 pm on Sun. Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, Shed A and C, SF. Sponsors include Pepsi, Ford Motor Co., Budweiser, Sony, Lucky Stores, EFS Savings and the Port of San Francisco. 673-3782.

October 4th

Castro Street Fair Started in the back room of Harvey Milk’s camera store in 1974, this neighborhood fair has become a city-wide event. Musicians, bellydancers and jugglers appear with prom queens, urban cowboys, visitors from outer space and the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps. A variety of music, comedy acts and more than 200 arts and crafts displays are also scheduled. Castro between Market and 19th, SF. Sponsored by the Castro Street Fair. 346-2640.

October 9-25

Harvest Festival For three weekends, the nation’s largest touring festival of handmade crafts, fine art, music, theater and cooking transforms Brooks Hall into a colorful 19th-century village. The event features bluegrass and country bands, continuous stage entertainment, jugglers, acrobats and wandering minstrels, as well as the hundreds of unique shops that line the walkways. Center Stage headliners include Riders in the Sky, and the famed musical comedians the Brass Band, winners of the top prize at the Edinburgh, Scotland Performing Arts Festival. Adults $5; children 6-11, $2.50; children under 6, free. Fri., noon-10 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-7 pm, Brooks Hall, Civic Center. 974-4000.

October 10-11

Art and All That Jazz on Fillmore A second-year revival in remembrance of Fillmore Street’s heyday of music, known in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s for its hot jazz and blues clubs. Two days to celebrate San Francisco’s jazz roots with fine arts, fine food and fine wine in outdoor cafes. 10 am-6 pm, Fillmore between Post and Clay, SF. Sponsored by the Fillmore Street Merchants’ Association, the Pacific Heights Homeowners’ and Merchants’ Association. 346-4446.

October 11

Montclair Village Fair The winding streets of Montclair Village provide a charming locale for this neighborhood fair, where 50 artisans sell crafts and local schools, business and nonprofit organizations sell food. This year’s fair has a circus theme, with strolling flutists and meandering mimes helping to create a carefree atmosphere. A pancake breakfast kicks things off and is followed by hayrides in Montclair park. 11 am-5 pm, LaSalle at Mountain, Oakl. Sponsored by the Montclair Business Association. 339-1000.

October 17-18

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Artists and craftspeople from across the United States display wares in more than 250 booths and all-day entertainment features blue grass to rock-and-roll at this “something for everyone” festival. As you might expect, pumpkin goodies abound and the fair kicks off with two pie-eating contests. Other events include a Pumpkin Festival Run and a pumpkin-carving contest. 10 am-5 pm, Main Street in Downtown Half Moon Bay. Sponsored by the Coastside Chamber of Commerce. 726-5202. *

So much flesh, so little personality


Madonna. At Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, Monday, July 20th.

During the encores of the first of her two spectacular shows at Shoreline Amphitheatre last week, Madonna, the fantasy idol of American youth, finally asked the musical question lurking in the shadows of her extravagant performance. When the saucy Ms. Ciccone sang “Who’s That Girl?,” the title song of her forthcoming movie and just-released soundtrack album, she made the riddle of her career explicit. But after more than 90 minutes of relentless razzle-dazzle, after Madonna had revealed so much of her flesh and so little of her personality, the question should have been, why do so many people care?

Clearly they care a lot. Over two nights, nearly 40,000 people trekked to Mountain View for their close encounter of the absurd kind. This “Material Girl” made them willing to part with huge chunk of their disposable income for the privilege of watching her cavort through 16 entertaining but uninspiring production numbers masquerading as songs. The largely post-teen concertgoers paid up to $22.50 for an unscalped ticket, before service charges, and had the chance to fork over ten bucks for a slick program, $16 for a T-shirt and untold pocket change for food and drink from Shoreline’s amusement park-style concession. Scores even hired limousines to carry them to the show.

The power of Madonna’s appeal should be the envy of movie and pop stars alike. Even the most charismatic screen idols don’t attract so many people to one place at one time, and only a relative handful of music performers ever develop such commercial appeal. By successfully straddling both pop culture realms, Madonna doubles her draw. She is no ordinary icon.

How does she pull it off when she’s such a transparantly ordinary talent? The quick answer is that she sells sex, but her current show is remarkably unsexy. Nearly every song was punctuated by lacivious moves, from bumps and grinds with her male dancers (including salacious routines with a boy who looked less than half her 28 years) to teasing masturbatory gestures. And the foundation of her costuming — the black merry widow corset with gold sequined breast tips and twirling tassels — was part Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot and part Gypsy Rose Lee. But Madonna’s precisely programmed dancing was little more than a second-rate rehash of Flashdance (from the same choreographer) and her attire came off like a dress-up game, not a seduction. Nor was the secret of her appeal in the music. The seven-piece band and three back-up singers, under the direction of Madonna’s co-producer Patrick Leonard, was loud and punchy, rhythmically sharp and note perfect. But the musicians, shunted to the sides of the elaborate staircase set, were beside the point. Their routine neo-disco grooves varied little throughout the night and only a few of Madonna’s songs, such as “Papa Don’t Preach,” “Like A Virgin” and “Holiday,” get beyond the busy beats with catchy melodic hooks.

No, Madonna must send other kinds of messages to her fans. In “Papa Don’t Preach,” her big hit from True Blue, she seemed to be picking up a social cause, defending a pregnant teenage girl’s freedom of choice. Presented in concert, however, the song became an overcrowded bandwagon for a mishmash of socio-political themes. Giant projected images of clouds in a blue sky gave way to those of thunderstorms, the menacing face of a surgeon, the entrance to a giant cathedral. A nightmarish Monty Python-style slide montage hinted at the horrors of abortion and careened through bizarre juxtapositions culminating in a giant blowup of the White House, then Reagan’s face, the faces of happy, healthy children and, finally, the words, SAFE SEX.

Whatever Madonna was trying to say in “Papa Don’t Preach,” her fourth song in concert, was quickly forgotten in the onslaught of MTV-style production numbers that followed. Indeed, the show was little more than an overblown “live” music video, full of silly props and simplified physical interpretations of the songs.

At the center of it all was a vaguely attractive young woman who projected nothing of her real self yet represented a kind of between-the-cracks liberation from the creeping conservatism of the 1980s. After all the dressing up and stripping down, nothing of the performer’s inner nature was revealed. But “Madonna” represented the freedom to act out the most outrageous fantasies without fear or guilt. During “Like A Virgin,” a New York Post front page was projected on the huge screen with the headline “Madonna: I Am Not Ashamed.”

She can be a material girl, a party girl, an innocent harlot in red lace undies and a black leather jacket, a rebel without a cause clothed by Frederick’s of Hollywood. She takes a stand against post-feminism by strutting, leaping and groveling on the stage, declaring that if there’s going to be any exploitation in her career, she’s going to control it. She confounds the objectification of womanhood by adding more layers. One of the few female role models that the mass media has coughed up in pop music during this regressive decade, Madonna is merely making the most of it, and making over her image in as many ways as she can within the narrow range of options. She leaves it to her fans to create their own answers to the question, “Who’s that girl?”*




San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1998-10-07, v33-n01 – 01alerts

Save Ward Valley!

Wednesday, Oct. 7, the Colorado River Native Nations Alliance and the Ward Valley Coalition sponsor a protest march to save Ward Valley, sacred Indian land, endangered species, and the Colorado River from a planned nuclear waste dump. Noon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 75 Hawthorne, S.F. To volunteer, call Greenaction (415) 566-3475, BAN Waste (415) 752-8678, or the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe/Colorado River Native Nations Alliance (760) 629-4591.

‘Critical Video’

Thursday, Oct. 8, The Bay Area Video Activist Network sponsors “Critical Video,” an evening of videos about the rapid growth of the prison-industrial complex and how people are resisting. The feature presentation will be Lockdown USA, a production of Deep Dish Television. 8:30 p.m., Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. $5 requested donation but no one turned away. (415) 824-3890.

School board
candidates forum

Thursday, Oct. 8, Parent Advocates for Youth sponsor a Board of Education forum to find out where candidates stand on issues like fiscal oversight, school safety, and privatization. All 13 candidates have been invited to participate. 7 p.m., California State Building, 505 Van Ness, S.F. (415) 641-4362.

Clinton exposed

Friday, Oct. 9, Compañeros del Barrio and Socialist Action present “10 Real Reasons to Oppose the Clinton Presidency.” 7:30 p.m., 3425 Cesar Chavez, S.F. $3 donation; $1.50 for students, unemployed people, and retirees. (415) 821-0458.

‘The Last Front’

Friday, Oct. 9–Sunday, Oct. 11, students, educators, and activists gather at S.F. State to learn about and organize against the privatization of public institutions, including the police, welfare, housing, government, public education, and prisons. The program begins on Friday with “tours of the privatizing campus” and continues all weekend with panels, workshops, and exhibits. San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway, S.F. To register, call (415) 826-2850, e-mail, or visit

Protest privatization

Friday, Oct. 9, in conjunction with “The Last Front” conference, a protest of the corporatization of public education is being held outside the Marriot, where Steve Forbes, Pete Wilson, and Milton Friedman will be among legislators and business executives meeting to discuss corporate America’s agenda. 5:30 p.m., Marriott Hotel, 55 Fourth St., S.F. (415) 826-2450.

Fundraiser for Prop. G

Saturday, Oct. 10, the Queer Tenants Union, in conjunction with Housing for All, hosts a benefit for Proposition G, featuring Karlin Lotney, a.k.a. Fairy Butch, Joan Jett-Blakk, Joel Tan, author of Queer Papi Porn, and Reginald Lamar, singer and performance artist. 7:30 p.m., Metropolitan Community Church, 150 Eureka, S.F. (415) 552-6031.

Bad Business

Saturday, Oct. 10, Economic Justice Now!, POCLAD, and the Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community host a conversation with Richard Grossman, codirector of the Program on Corporations, on “Reckoning with the Corporate Insurgency Against Democracy.” 7 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Center, 1187 Franklin, S.F. $812 sliding scale, no one turned away. (510) 601-5512. 

Mail Alerts to the Bay Guardian, 520 Hampshire, S.F., CA 94110; fax to (415) 255-8762; or e-mail Please include a contact telephone number. Items must be received at least one week prior to publication date. Call (415) 255-3100, ext. 552, for more information. For more events, see the Benefits listings in the Calendar section or visit the Bay Guardian Action Network on the Web at