The Fairest of Them All
You’ll find something for everyone in the family at the Bay Area’s many summer festivals and fairs. So many cities and community groups put on these weekend fetes that you can find one nearly every week of the summer. As an added perk, admission is usually free. Check websites for exact times.
Carnaval - The highlight is a colorful parade with dancers and other entertainment. Sat.-Sun., May 28-29. Mission District. sfcatcarnaval.com.
Cinco de Mayo in Dolores Park - This event includes children’s activities, food and arts and crafts. Early May. Dolores Park, between 18th and 20th streets. sfcincodemayo.com.
San Carlos Hometown Days - This celebration is all about community spirit and old-fashioned fun with parades, entertainment and children’s activities. 1017 Cedar St. sancarloshometowndays.com.
Art and Wind Festival - Enjoy more than 200 arts and crafts booths, entertainment on three stages, kids’ activities, kites and more. Sun.-Mon., May 29-30. San Ramon Central Park, 12501 Alcosta Blvd. ci.san-ramon.ca.us.
Doof-a-Palooza - Learn how to make good food fun and encourage your children to eat healthier. Sun., May 22. Jack London Square, foot of Broadway, Oakland. anotherbullwinkelshow.com.
Kidfest - Enjoy crafts, activities, popular animated characters and live entertainment. Sat.-Sun., May 28-29. Mt. Diablo High School, 2450 Grant St., Concord. kidfestconcord.com.
A La Carte & Art – Celebrate the arts with exhibits of handcrafted wares, specialty food, home and garden exhibits and a farmers market with fresh produce. Sat.-Sun., May 21-22. Castro Street near Church Street, Mountain View. 650-964-3395. miramarevents.com.
Boogie on the Bayou – Experience New Orleans with live music, Crawdaddy Kiddie Corner and great Cajun and international cuisine. Sat.-Sun., May 21-22. From Harrison Avenue to 3rd Street, Campbell. campbellchamber.com.
Hands on the Arts – A festival designed to help children learn about other cultures through art, music, dancing, painting, theater and craft projects. Sat., May 21. $10 for unlimited workshop attendance in 2010. Sunnyvale Community Center, 550 E. Remington Dr. 408-730-7350. sunnyvale.ca.gov.
South / Coast
Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras – Features entertainment, crafts and Munchkinland for kids. Sat.-Sun., May 28-29. Downtown Morgan Hill at the Community Center Grounds and Depot Street. 408-778-1786. mhmushroommardigras.com.
Marin Art Festival - Arts and crafts, family entertainment, food and more. Sat.-Sun., June 18-19. Marin Civic Center Lagoon, Civic Center Drive. 415-455-2000. marinartfestival.com.
Haight Ashbury Street Fair - Walk down Haight Street and enjoy booths including children’s activities, music, food and crafts. Sat., June 12. haightashburystreetfair.org.
Union Street Festival - Features an “eco-zone” with green exhibits as well as art, gourmet food and entertainment. Sat-Sun., June 4-5. Union Street from Gough to Steiner streets. 415-456-6436. unionstreetfestival.com.
Foster City Arts and Wine Festival - A carnival, arts and crafts, and entertainment are among this festival’s features. June. Shell and East Hillsdale boulevards. fostercitychamber.com.
San Mateo County Fair - This county celebration boasts entertainment, carnival rides and games, fair food, farm animals and exhibits. Sat., June 11-Sun., June 19. San Mateo County Expo Center, 2495 S. Delaware St., San Mateo. sanmateocountyfair.org.
Alameda County Fair - The fair offers entertainment, carnival rides, exhibits, animals and more. Wed., June 22-Sun., July 10. 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton. 925-426-7559. alamedacountryfair.com.
Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival - Come see the work of chalk artists both young and old, as well as chocolate tastings, live music and more. Small charge for chalk and tastings. Sat., June 4. Gourmet Ghetto on North Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. 510-548-5335. anotherbullwinkelshow.com.
Contra Costa County Fair - Enjoy live entertainment, livestock, food on a stick, exhibits and more. Thurs.-Sun., June 2-5. 1201 W. 10th St., Antioch. contracostafair.com.
Livermore Rodeo - It’s called the world’s fastest rodeo and features roping events, bull riders and more. Family Night, Thurs., June 9, featuring team roping and wild cow milking. Sat.-Sun., June 11-12. 3200 Robinson Park Road. livermorerodeo.org.
Silicon Valley Duck Race - Sponsor a rubber ducky for $5 and race it down Vasona Creek for prizes at this fundraiser for nonprofit groups. Also enjoy games, bounce houses, food, crafts booths and wildlife encounters. Sat., June 12. Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. 408-354-2608. siliconvalleyduckrace.org.
Sunnyvale Art & Wine Festival - Carnival rides, a NASA tent, craft tents and a science van are among the highlights for kids at this fest. Sat.-Sun., June 4-5. South Murphy Ave. 408-736-4971. svcoc.org.
Marin County Fair - Families can enjoy carnival rides, farm animals, entertainment, exhibits, and more. July. Marin Civic Center, Civic Center Drive. marinfair.org.
Fourth of July on the Waterfront - Spend the holiday at Pier 39 with bands, food, arts and crafts and fireworks. Mon., July 4. Beach Street and The Embarcadero. pier39.com.
Festa Italiana Community Street Fair - This fair celebrates Italian culture with food, a chalk art gallery, parade and music. July. North B Street between Tilton and Second avenues. festafoundation.org/streetfair.html.
Redwood City Fourth of July Celebration - Enjoy a parade, children’s activities, bands, food and arts and crafts. Mon., July 4. Downtown Redwood City. parade.org.
Alameda Fourth of July Parade - Enjoy and old-fashioned parade on Webster Street starting around 11am Mon., July 4. westalamedabusiness.com.
Berkeley Kite Festival - See giant creature kites as big as houses and learn how to make your own kite. Sat.-Sun., July 30-31. Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina. 510-235-5483. highlinekites.com.
El Cerrito Fourth of July Celebration - It’s a family day of fun with arts and crafts vendors, music, children’s games and more. Mon., July 4. Cerrito Vista Park, 950 Pomona. el-cerrito.org.
Connoisseurs’ Marketplace – A vibrant open-air festival that celebrates the best of summer in style, including great food and wine, live music and world-class art. Sat-Sun., July 16-17. Santa Cruz Avenue from El Camino Real to Johnson Street, Menlo Park. 650-325-2818. miramarevents.com.
Los Altos Art & Wine Festival – This charming downtown street fair boasts distinctive works of art, local wine, free concerts and a kids’ zone. July 9-10. Main and State streets, Los Altos. 650-949-5282. downtownlosaltos.org.
South / Coast
Gilroy Garlic Festival – This spicy festival features garlic cook-offs, garlic-themed gifts, a kids’ area with games, crafts and even garlic ice cream. Fri.-Sun., July 29-31. $17 adults, $8 ages 6-12, FREE under 6. Christmas Hill Park, 7050 Miller Ave. 408-842-1625. gilroygarlicfestival.com.
Nihonmachi Street Fair - Families can enjoy lion dancers, taiko drummers, Japanese arts and crafts, music, food and children’s events. August. San Francisco’s Japantown, Post Street between Laguna and Webster streets. 415-771-9861. nihonmachistreetfair.org.
San Francisco Aloha Festival - Celebrate Pacific Islander culture with Polynesian dance, food, arts and crafts, workshops and more. August. 415-281-0221. sanfranciscoalohafestival.org.
Art and Soul Festival - Dance shows, food, a children’s area and fun for the entire family. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 20-21. Downtown Oakland. artandsouloakland.com.
Fremont Festival of the Arts - The largest held in California, this street festival features more than 700 artists and craftspeople, entertainment and a kid zone. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 6-7. Paseo Padre Parkway at Mowry and Capitol. 510-795-2244. fremontfestival.net.
Oakland Chinatown Streetfest - Consisting of more than 280 booths, this exciting festival spans 10 blocks of Chinatown. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 27-28. 510-893-8979. oaklandchinatownstreetfest.com.
Fiesta de Artes – Visit historic downtown Los Gatos and see artisans, vintners, micro-brewers, artists and non-stop entertainment including. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 13-14. Los Gatos Civic Center Grounds, Main St., Los Gatos. lgfiesta.org.
Italian Family Festa - Authentic Italian food, bocce ball contests, entertainment and a grape-stomping contest are among the highlights of this cultural festival. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 27-28. Guadalupe River Park & Gardens, between St. John and Julian streets, San Jose. 408-293-7122. iahfsj.org.
Santa Clara County Youth Fair – A petting zoo, carnival rides, livestock shows and exhibits by and for children. Thurs.-Sun., Aug. 4-7. Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Road, San Jose. 408-494-3100. thefair.org.
South / Coast
Cabrillo Music, Food, Art and Wine Festival – Non-stop local and ethnic music and dance on an outdoor stage, along with fine arts and craft vendors, food artisans, and the Kids’ Creativity Tent. Sat.-Sun., Aug. 6-7. Church Street outside the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. cabrillomusic.org.
Sausalito Art Festival - Fine art, food, children’s activities and entertainment. Sat.-Mon., Sept. 3-5. Marinship Park, Marinship Way. 415-331-3757. sausalitoartfestival.org.
Belmont Greek Festival - Celebrate Greek culture with food and pastries, music and dancing, drama and a children’s fun zone. Sat.-Mon., Sept. 3-5. Church of the Holy Cross, 900 Alameda de las Pulgas. 650-591-4447. goholycross.org/festival.
The Kings Mountain Art Fair – Now one of the top five craft fairs in California, this family-friendly show features arts and crafts activities in a redwood forest. Sept. 3-5. $3 for 12 children’s activity tickets in 2010. Kings Mountain Community Center/Fire Station, 13889 Skyline Blvd., Woodside. 650-851-2710. kingsmountainartfair.org.
Solano Stroll - Become part of the world’s largest block party taking place on Solano Avenue in Albany and Berkeley. Enjoy entertainment, kids’ games, community exhibits and more. Sun., Sept. 11. solanoavenueassn.org.
Mountain View Art & Wine Festival - One of the South Bay’s largest fests, this multicultural celebration features 600 artists and crafts makers, non-stop music and a children’s section. Sat.-Sun., Sept. 10-11. Castro Street between El Camino Real and Evelyn Avenue. 650-968-8378. miramarevents.com.
Santa Clara Art & Wine Festival - The picturesque, 52-acre Central Park is the setting for this festival, offering 175 arts and crafts booths, four stages of entertainment and Kids Kingdom. Sat.-Sun., Sept. 17-18. 909 Kiely Blvd. 408-615-3140. santaclaraartandwine.com.
South / Coast
Begonia Festival - A four-day beach party with a sand-sculpture contest, rowboat race, chalk art, fishing derby, live music, movies at sundown and begonia-covered barges floating down Soquel Creek. Fri.-Mon., Sept. 2-5. Capitola Esplanade, Stockton and Riverview avenues. 831-476-3566. begoniafestival.com.
Monterey County Fair - Traditional livestock and arts and craft exhibits, carnival rides and entertainment. Wed.-Mon., Aug. 31-Sept. 5. $4-25, FREE under 5, in 2010. Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey. 831-372-5863. montereycountyfair.com.
Santa Cruz County Fair - All the old favorites plus exciting extras such as pig races, pro wrestling and kisses from sea lions. $10 ages 13 and up, $5 ages 5-12. Tues.-Sun., Sept. 13-18. 2601 E. Lake Ave., Watsonville. 831-724-5671. santacruzcountyfair.com.