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Choice Summer Festivals 

Wednesday, Jun 3 2015
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Yeah, it's nominally a Texas thing, but since 1951, San Francisco has been acknowledging the day when enslaved people in Galveston found out the Confederacy had lost and they were now free. The Fillmore, still the spiritual heart of S.F.'s African-American community, will become home to four stages of entertainment, a fashion show, vendors, a classic car and motorcycle show, and a petting zoo. Social justice issues have been at the forefront of the news all year, so expect this party to be especially poignant. Saturday, June 13, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., at the African American Art and Cultural Complex, 762 Fulton St.

Haight Ashbury Street Fair

As big fun things go, this one has a pretty low Yelp rating (just two-and-a-half? Really?), but if your expectations are aligned with reality, the Haight Ashbury Street Fair has one of the best reasons to hit up the Haight: people-watching. You can buy some fringed leather, some beads, or some jewelry wrought by people who don't believe in fluoridated water, or just watch some stoned-ass characters relive a rough approximation of the '60s. There are stages, and there will be hippie chicks dancing with their wrists while balanced on their boyfriends' shoulders. Some of the smoke is actual barbecue, too. Sunday, June 14, Haight Street between Masonic and Stanyan.

Stern Grove Festival

On one hand, the 78th season of the Stern Grove Festival is an opportunity to shiver in the fog again and again and again. On the other, it's San Franciscans' best chance to see a wonderfully eclectic mix of highbrow and pop music, from the San Francisco Symphony and Ballet to tUnE-yArDs, Randy Newman, and Mary Chapin Carpenter — all summer long, for free! Get there early, bring a blanket, cuddle if you have to, and know that you won't be seeing any highly intoxicated people struggling to remain upright like at every other festival. Sundays, June 14-Aug. 16, 2 p.m., at Stern Grove.

California Beer Festival

Forget sea, sand, and sun: Summer is all about brews, food, and bocce ball at the California Beer Festival in Marin County. Music includes locals like Wonderbread 5, The Grain, and IrieFuse, but even more important are the craft beers, which includes 70 brews on tap. With proceeds benefiting the Gen Giammanco Foundation, which supports student athletes, you can even feel virtuous while hoisting a pint. Saturday, June 20, 12:30-5 p.m., Stafford Lake Park, Novato. $25-$75.

Phono del Sol Music & Food Festival

Phono del Sol Music & Food Festival features a multigenre offering of performances by local and national acts. Standouts this year are Brooklyn's Tanlines, an experimental pop duo, and the Tropics, a rising local pop act. And don't miss other local talent: Sonny & The Sunsets, Everyone Is Dirty, TIARAS, and Scary Little Friends. Make sure to bring an appetite, because a variety of food trucks will be on hand to satisfy your stomach's grumblings (including Hella Vegan Eats). The outdoor festival comes from Bay Bridged, a nonprofit project and blog founded in 2006 to cover Bay Area indie music. A portion of the ticket sales supports the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. Potrero del Sol Park, July 11, entrance on 25th and Utah Street. 12 p.m.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

There's live music, art, and children's activities, but the heart and clove of the 37th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival is the food. (The Garlic Festival queen has already been crowned.) Dozens of food stalls will be paying tribute to the almighty allium, and the applications range from entry-level (garlic fries) to intermediate (garlic lumpia) to advanced (garlic ice cream). Go (garlic) nuts! Friday-Sunday, July 24-26, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Christmas Hill Park, 7050 Miller Ave., Gilroy. $20 adult, $10 children 6-12, $10 seniors; free for kids under 6.

Shakespeare Festival

If you have an affinity for star-crossed lovers with the surnames Montague and Capulet, you can scratch the itch. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival will perform Romeo and Juliet dozens of times at five venues — two of which, McLaren Park's Jerry Garcia Amphitheater and the Presidio's Main Post, are in the city — all summer. That's a lot of opportunities, because as the play says, "Men's eyes were made to look and let them gaze." Now that we're all adults, it's okay to admit a love of the Bard without semi-literate jocks pummeling us by our lockers. June 27-Sept. 27, at various dates and times across the Bay Area.

Vintage Paper Fair

The smell of artfully processed dead trees will be in the air once again as the Bay Area's most highly curated collector's event returns to Golden Gate Park. Seemingly everything between the era of papyrus scrolls and the digital dark ages gets its own table, including movie posters, Beaux Arts billet-doux, lascivious pin-ups, and forgotten civic esoterica. If you aren't a fan of advertorials for 19th century patent medicines, you will be after a jaunt down these aisles. Who wouldn't want a postcard from a country that no longer exists? Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2, at the Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park.

J-Pop Summit

The annual J-Pop Summit is a genuine San Francisco treat. Enjoy a vast array of Japanese pop-influenced art including, fashion, anime, music, tech, and much more. You'll see Japanese celebs (yet to be announced), Pop Idol contests, cosplay, and a gigantic puzzle-solving game called 1000 Treasure Hunters. That one's a particular highlight: The game has players search for dozens of clues hidden throughout the Fort Mason Festival grounds. Players use their keen insight and cognitive skills to decipher a "kit" (given to each team) containing clues, hints, and a map. The game is designed to be fun, not stressful, so there's no time limit and players can work individually or in teams. Aug. 7-9, $20-$90, at Fort Mason Center.

Outside Lands

Outside Lands may be the only time Kendrick Lamar, Slightly Stoopid, and Elton John will ever play the same show to some slightly stupid people wearing pre-made flower crowns. Nevertheless, the festival is a San Francisco culture marker — if you're somebody who likes to "like" music once a year, then this is the gig for you. There will be a plethora of bands, stages, food, and entertainment that you can buy (real or fake) tickets for, or just mob the fence like people tend to do every year. Aug 7-9 at Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Street Food Fest

Maybe it's the sunshine, variety, or fumes from the passing Muni bus, but street food just tastes better. La Cocina, a Mission-based incubator kitchen for low-income entrepreneurs launching food businesses, is bringing dozens of vendors together for the San Francisco Street Food Festival. After outgrowing its Folsom Street location, the festival is teaming up with Noise Pop and the Midway to set up camp at Pier 70. Elastic waistbands advised, but not required. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 15-16, 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Pier 70, S.F. Free, though donations are encouraged; food passports range from $30 ("Just Snacking") to $250 ("We Came to Eat").

Eat Drink SF

Let's be frank: San Francisco has a vibrant arts scene, but most of all we just like to put foodstuffs in our mouths. Eat Drink SF is this city's premier gastronomic orgy, with so many booths that lines are manageable even though people are working double-time to make sure they consume the equivalent of the four-day, $275 general admission. While the focus is on Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion (which includes a blind wine tasting with top sommeliers), the fun is spread citywide, from the Ferry Building to Foreign Cinema. You know what the prerequisites are for being merry, right? Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 20-23, various venues.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

This annual free music festival in Golden Gate Park features over 100 acts on seven stages. The whole thing is put on in memory of Warren Hellman, a private equity pioneer whose estate funds the entire festival. Speaking about the festival, Hellman told Forbes magazine in 2006, "How could you have more fun than that? What the hell is money for if it isn't for something like that?" This year's lineup isn't announced yet, but it seems like Steve Earle shows up every year, so you can pretty much count on that. Golden Gate Park, Oct. 2-4.

Treasure Island Music Festival

Although technically the lineup hasn't been released yet, it's pretty safe to assume if festivals are your thing then Treasure Island Music Festival is going to be a good time. Last year Outkast and Massive Attack headlined and we spent a majority of our time shaking it like a Polaroid picture. It also has without a doubt the best views of any festival in the Bay Area — so what are you waiting for? Hop on the Ferris wheel and forget about the work week. Oct. 17-18 on Treasure Island


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