A Street Fair for everyone

San Diego’s largest two-day, free music festival returns to Adams Avenue

By Logan Broyles | SDUN Reporter

The Adams Avenue Street Fair, billed as Southern California’s largest free, two-day music festival, will take place along a seven-block stretch of Adams Avenue Sept. 28 – 29. Running from 32nd to 35th streets, this year’s festival features over 90 bands and musical acts on seven different stages.

More than just music lovers are invited out for the weekend, as the Street Fair also includes hundreds of arts and crafts booths as well as a children’s play area. The fair runs from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The Standells headline the Casbah Rock Stage Saturday night. (Courtesy Larry Tamblyn)

The Standells headline the Casbah Rock Stage Saturday night. (Courtesy Larry Tamblyn)

“It’s a great value for the amount of entertainment that you receive,” said Scott Kessler, executive director of the Adams Avenue Business Association, the organizing group of the Street Fair.

“It’s the largest music festival in San Diego County with seven stages and nearly 100 bands, but we also have something for everybody, including family-oriented carnival rides, face-painters and lots of shopping opportunity, with almost 400 booths,” he said.

The Street Fair was initiated in the early 1980s as a celebration of the re-lighting and renovation of the Normal Heights street sign that hangs over Adams Avenue, yet over the last three decades it has grown to be much more for the community. It is a chance to share the neighborhood and all that it has to offer with the rest of San Diego.

“The Adams Avenue Street Fair event is a communal celebration where the business community of Adams Avenue and the residential community of Normal Heights opens their doors to the rest of the County and invites people in to celebrate our unique neighborhood,” Kessler said. “People come because there’s bound to be something that’s part of the event that tickles their interest.”

With assists by local legends and music aficionados Steve Kader, Louis Brazier of Lestat’s Coffee House and Tim Mayes of the Casbah, this year’s Street Fair is loaded with a diverse lineup of talented musicians. One of the stages will feature a bill put together by Mayes, dubbed the “Casbah 33rd St. Rock Stage.”

The Casbah stage will feature a lineup of local acts including Blackout Party, The Creepy Creeps, Barbarian, Black Hondo, Okapi Sun, Wild Wild Wets and The Phantoms, with a headlining performance on Saturday night by Los Angeles garage-rockers The Standells, featuring a guest appearance by former Love guitarist Johnny Echols.

The Lisa Sanders band performs on the Starbuck’s Stage Saturday night. (Photo by Chris Woolley)

The Lisa Sanders band performs on the Starbuck’s Stage Saturday night. (Photo by Chris Woolley)

Balboa Park’s famed WorldBeat Cultural Center will also be hosting a stage, as will Lestat’s, DiMille’s Italian Restaurant & Lounge and Starbucks. There will also be a Blues Stage at Hawley Boulevard and a Roots Rock Stage at 34th Street, featuring a Sunday night performance by local favorite, Low Volts.

Other performances to keep an eye out for include local R&B funk stars the Styletones, the always-stylish Gregory Page, and blues rockers Zac Harmon & His Band as well as Louisiana-based The Bayou Brothers. Southern California’s own Old Man Markley closes out the Roots Rock stage Sunday, and The Peripherals open the Starbuck’s Stage Saturday morning.

Brother and sister duo Wild Belle hits the WorldBeat Stage in Adams Avenue Park on Sunday night, bringing a unique combination of reggae and 1970s-style soul music. Afro-Latin funk band Jungle Fire also play the WorldBeat Stage, Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

In addition to the live musical performances there will also be beer gardens, a beer tasting, carnival rides for children, an array of diverse and exotic foods, and the arts and crafts booths that are organized in part to keep the whole family entertained.

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“We hope this will bring economic benefits to the local merchants and businesses that help produce this event for the community at large,” Kessler said, adding that it was the largest retail sales day for many Adams Avenue businesses.

“It will be very crowded, so we recommend that people use public transportation if possible, and encourage people to check out our website so that they can check the schedule and see which shows interest them,” he said.

For more information on the Street Fair – including the complete stage lineup – visit or call 619-282-7329.

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