By Morgan M. Hurley | Contributing Editor

Once Pride is in our rear-view mirror every year, the community tends to start looking forward to CityFest, the annual street festival presented by the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA). This year’s event will take place Sunday, Aug. 14, from noon – 11 p.m.

Originally started 32 years ago as a way to celebrate the refurbishment of the iconic neon Hillcrest sign, CityFest has continued to “keep the party going,” and they still celebrate the sign, though in recent years the neon was swapped out for LED.

Taking over Fifth Avenue from the north side of University Avenue all the way down to Redwood Street, with various vendors spilling out in each direction of the cross-streets in between; CityFest offers attendees every style of artisan vendor; carnival rides; a kids zone; food from all over the globe; community businesses; four different artist alleys to showcase local artists; a beer garden (21+); live music all day long from noon to 8 p.m. and an all ages dance party under the Hillcrest sign starting at 8 p.m.

Thousands of people crowd into Hillcrest for the annual CityFest. (Courtesy of HBA)

Thousands of people crowd into Hillcrest for the annual CityFest. (Courtesy of HBA)

“In an effort to respect the current state of our drought we are swapping out our water slide and water elements for more festive carnival rides and games,” said Megan Gamwell, HBA’s marketing and communications director. “This year we are stepping up and bringing in more of your favorite carnival games and rides down on the south end of the event.”

One of the region’s longest-running street festivals, the popular event has also served as a de facto post-Pride celebration for the local LGBT community and anyone else who wants to play along, which generally amounts to 150,000 attendees annually.

The main stage, sponsored by The Merrow, located at the corner of University and Fifth avenues, will again be the focal point, with live music planned from noon – 7 p.m.

“We host live music five to six nights a week and most of our shows feature San Diego acts so we’ve seen more local bands than you can shake a stick at,” said Dustin Lothspeich, talent buyer for The Merrow. “CityFest, to us, is ultimately about taking pride in our community and we love ‘living local’ as they say. These are all bands we love and want other people to experience as well — that’s why we’ve tapped them for the festival.”

Lothspeich further encouraged the community to get out and support local “grassroots” music at various venues in town. Some of the bands you will see on the main stage Aug. 12, will also be performing at The Merrow this month. So if you like what you see, head over to 1271 University Ave., for more.

The DJ music will be sponsored by Rich’s Nightclub in two locations: the Techniche stage, located on the south side of the festival, will have TechMyxzlplix, John Vilotti and K-Swift spinning from 1 – 6 p.m. The main stage area at University and Fifth avenues, will turn into an all ages street nightclub – with some of Hillcrest’s finest DJs spinning while the community dances the night away under the Hillcrest sign. K-Swift and DJ Taj will be playing sets from 8 – 11 p.m.

—Morgan M. Hurley is a contributing editor of San Diego Uptown News and can be reached at

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