San Francisco is a city of contradictions, and no two neighborhoods epitomize that notion better than high-fashion Union Street and just plain high Haight-Ashbury. The only thing the two 'hoods have in common is that they stage their annual street fairs on the same weekend.
One of the city's largest free art events, the Union Street Festival plays host to 200 carefully juried artists as well as hordes of famished shoppers taking a break from maxing out their credit cards to sample delicacies from Cow Hollow's poshest eateries. Music aficionados can enjoy groups like Gypsy Soul, and soccer moms can let the kids try their own art projects in the family area (Union between Gough and Steiner) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Call (800) 310-6563 or visit www.unionstreetfestival.com.
For those whose style leans more toward Jerry Garcia than Gianni Versace, the Haight Street Fair is a fitting alternative. The storied avenue is closed to traffic, and the lunacy (and incense) from its quirky shops spills onto the sidewalks, where those who remember the '60s and those who wish they did gather for food, hijinks, and live music. The free festivities take place on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Haight between Masonic and Stanyan. Call 666-9952.
-- Jack Karp
Luck of the Draw
On your mark, get set, sketch!
Think of Southern Exposure's third annual Monster Drawing Rally as a fine-arts version of the Japanese culinary game show Iron Chef. Though the live drawing event lacks a sequin-wearing MC and surprise ingredients, its premise is the same as cable television's most bizarre cooking series. In a fight against the clock, artists get an hour and basic tools to whip up a masterwork before our very eyes. Spectators can nab these impromptu drawings for just $50 apiece. More than 100 artists have signed up for the challenge; watch them at work from 6 to 10 p.m. at 401 Alabama (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2141 or visit www.soex.org.
-- Lisa Hom