The 31st Adams Avenue Street Fair

Free two-day festival brings music, community to the streets

By Logan Broyles | SDUN Reporter

Just like last year’s street fair, businesses will be out in force Sept. 29 & 30 (Photo by Daniel Solomon)

San Diegans of all walks of life will be in attendance as this year’s 31st annual Adams Avenue Street Fair, held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29 and 30. The free event celebrates the best of local music and business, and draws people from across the entire region.

“It’s a wonderful event for the whole family. It isn’t just limited to a certain age group,” said Judy Elliot, executive director of the Adams Avenue Business Association (AABA), one of the organizers of the event. “It’s a community event. It started as a community celebration, and people from all different areas around the County come to it.”

This year features a lineup with more than 90 musical acts performing on seven stages set up along Adams Avenue in the heart of Normal Heights. There are two extra hours of music scheduled, as festival hours were extended on both days: Saturday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

The AABA is the same group responsible for putting on the first  Adams Avenue Unplugged in April, as a replacement for the now defunct Roots Fest. The nonprofit strives to enrich the local business district through events like the April event and the Street Fair.

Elliot and the AABA anticipate this year’s street fair will be the largest yet, topping last year’s average attendance of 60,000 people per day. The attendance, Elliot said, will benefit the local businesses immensely.

“We know that the local businesses within the street fair always do well. When people come to [the] event, they see all the variety of businesses that are available along the Avenue,” she said. In fact, in addition to celebrating the community, Elliot said the main reason for starting the fair was to “give exposure” to the businesses in the district.

The annual event has turned into a way to highlight many top musical acts as well, reuniting some classic bands and showcasing up-and-coming talent.

This year’s lineup includes the reunion of local rockabilly trio, the Paladins. After bursting onto the scene in the early 1980s, the band went on hiatus in 2004. They reunited in 2010, and spent the past two years regaining their audience by playing select European shows. They will be playing from 8:30 – 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29.

The Paladins, reuniting for the Adams Avenue Street Fair, take the stage Saturday, Sept. 29 at 8:30. (Photo by Mike Brendell)

Additional headliners include Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper; blues guitarist Coco Montoya; the Puerto Rican-based ensemble Plena Libre; singer and songwriter Jack Tempchin; and indie band Cuckoo Chaos, among others. Kofi Baker’s Cream Experience will take the stage with special guests, and psychedelic rockers the Strawberry Alarm Clock, with a guest appearance by former Oingo Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek, perform from 8:30 – 10 p.m. on Saturday as well.

“Our street fair is probably one of the best free events in Southern California,” Elliot said. “We’ve been at it for a long time. We always go out and get headliners, so we provide better-quality music than may be heard at other events that cost money.”

In addition to the live music, there will be four beer gardens, a designated beer-tasting area and more than 300 food, arts and craft, and community vendors up and down Adams Avenue. This year will also see the return of carnival rides, which Elliot said was missing from last year’s fair.

On Saturday, Sept. 29 the AABA is also hosting an official beer-sampling event, highlighting the array of local brews available. “For $25 you’ll get 12 tastes from your choice of 28 varieties of beer from 14 different local breweries,” Elliot said.

The AABA is encouraging people that are local to bike to the event, as they will be providing a free, secure bike valet. For more information and to purchase tickets to the beer tasting, visit or call 619-282-7329.

2012 Adams Avenue Street Fair music line up

Saturday, Sept. 29

Strawberry Alarm Clock
The Paladins
Junior Watson
Plena Libre
Kofi Baker’s Cream Experience
Jack Tempchin
FM Era
Kevin Martin
Maren Parusel
Stephen Rey & The Sex Trash
Travis Larson Band
Bosen & Suede
Red Lotus Revue
Charlie Chavez y su Afro-Truko
The Lucky Lonely
Blues Lyne
Raspin Stewart
Sara Petite & The Sugar Daddys
Stevie & The Hi-Stax
Dave Martone
Chuck Cannon
Bishop John W. Haynes & Change
Low Volts
Josh Damigo
Italian Japanese
Robin Henkel
Patrik Norton
Michele Lundeen & Blues Streak
Gabriel Garcia y su Afro-Paisa
Machines Learning
Kelsea Little
Meg & Bryan
Hills Like Elephants
Anthony Mendez
El Monte Slim
Tolan Shaw
Stoney B Blues Band
Catherine Denise
Kenny Eng
The Darrows
The Jade Element
Breanna Lynn
The Saltlickers
Alice Wallace
Chad Taggert
Wyatt Lowe & The Youngbloods
The Touchies
Leanna May & The Matadors
Country Rockin Rebels

Sunday, Sept. 30

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper
Cuckoo Chaos
Coco Montoya
Sundrop Electric
Sara Petite
Gilbert Castellanos
James Musselman
Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra
Aaron Bowen
Brief Exposure
Len Rainey & The Midnight Players
Crown City Bombers
The Amalgamated
The Donnis Trio
New Mexico
Nena Anderson & The Mules
Napoleon Complex
East of Sweden
The Orange Pickers
John Hull
Folding Mr. Lincoln
Tolan Shaw
Hello Trouble
Three Minute Monsters
Ugly Boogie
Charles Burton Blues Band
Tori Roze & The Hot Mess
Jessica Bell
Breanna Lynn
Bobby Sanchez Combo
Social Club
Whitney Shay & The Shakedowns
Nos de Chita
Raelee Nikole
Scott West
Chango Rey & His Broken Heartbeat

*Line up subject to change

Leave a Comment