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58th Annual North Beach Festival

North Beach Festival 2012

The 58th Annual North Beach Festival took to the streets of historic North Beach, also known as “Little Italy”, this past weekend with Saturday being the extreme scorcher of the two day festival. The festival occupied the busiest streets of the district with Columbus Street, this year, completely closed off to through traffic from Broadway to Green Streets with the overflow of festival-goers inhabiting Washington Square to relax and enjoy the company of friends and the weather.

The festival enjoyed its greatest weather on Saturday with many people taking to the streets in shorts, skirts, dresses, and of course sunglasses. People enjoyed the festival while grabbing drinks at the many beer gardens scattered throughout the festival. The largest beer and wine garden was at the Green Street Stage where guests inhabited the normally parking lot by day location. Here guests mingled with each other while enjoying a beverage or two with live performances by upbeat bands. The Filbert Street Stage was a smaller scaled stage with a different calmer atmosphere with bands that played soothing jazz.

Similar to other street festivals in San Francisco, the streets were filled with arts and crafts booths, sponsor booths, food and drink booths, and live music. However, what sets this festival apart from the others in San Francisco is the street chalk artwork that takes place at Grant Ave. and Vallejo Street. This year five artists constructed chalk art with many onlookers watching the artwork being created on Saturday to the final finishing touches by the festival’s end on Sunday. Organizers of the festival also allowed the public to take part in chalk art on the sidewalk for a small nominal fee.

Also observed during the festival is the annual “Blessing of the Animals” held by the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. Hundreds of people and their animals occupied the building over the course of two days with Fr. Gregory Coiro presiding over the animal blessings.

Having been to this festival several times, a trip to the North Beach would not be complete without having tried pizza from the area. I had some this year and it was good. I won’t tell you where, so you’ll have to discover it on your own. If you want some delicious pizza, come out to this district and try the different styles that this area has to offer. Pizza comes in all sorts, thin crust, cracker crust, thick crust, and also Sicilian styled pizza. I haven’t come across a deep dish pizza in the North Beach, but then again it’s not a traditional type of pizza originating from Italy. Deep dish is synonymous with Chicago and though there are some deep dish pizza joints in San Francisco, I think this district has yet to see one. There are rumors though that one will be coming soon.

Until next time, Ciao.

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North Beach Festival 2012 (1)

Festival booths line Columbus Street.

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The crowded Grant Avenue facing south.

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Looking north on Grant Avenue at the North Beach Festival.

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A crowded Washington Square.

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Quest brings his slacklining to the park and allows others to try the sport.

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The jam packed Green Street Stage on Saturday afternoon.

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Columbus Street facing the Transamerica Pyramid.

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One of many Italian flag painted poles in the North Beach.

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Customers compare their choice colored t-shirts.

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Chalk artists design artwork on the streets of North Beach.

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Amos Goldbaum captures the old Embarcadero Freeway on a t-shirt. Does anybody remember this freeway pre-1989 earthquake?

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Can you believe this is her real hair?

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North Beach Festival is enjoyed by all. He particularly enjoys the No Stopping signs on Columbus Avenue.

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Two lovely ladies enjoy their puppets.

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A trip to North Beach is not complete without taking home a pizza.

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Two people enjoy a game of chess outside of a cafe at the North Beach Festival.

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Father Gregory Coiro blesses animals inside the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi.

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SF Giants are represented at the North Beach Festival

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Two ladies enjoy gummy worms while selling hats at the North Beach Festival.

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Italian inspired clothing and tattoos.

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Jammin' on the electric guitar.

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Gettin' down with the music.

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Playin' jazz with Carol Doda in the background before she sings.

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The North Beach Festival is a family affair.

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The completed chalk artworks on Vallejo Street.

(If you like this post and would like to see more photographs please like and follow me on my Facebook page)

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55th Annual North Beach Festival

North Beach Festival 2009

The North Beach Festival this weekend has been a fun and great festival which takes place in Little Italy. This has been my first experience at the festival and it has nothing, but great things about it. What I thought was going to be only two blocks of festivities ended up being more like eight or more blocks of awesome art, food, music, and other commercial products. The festival also included the entire Washington Square Park. There were two grandstands, one located at Columbus and Green and another located at Washington Square Park.

The North Beach Festival is probably one the most relaxing festivals that I’ve ever been. How relaxing can it be? Well, you can first start off by walking throughout the whole festival and see all sorts of things, then when you get tired, grab a bite to eat and bring it over to Washington Square Park and have a seat on the grass and listen to some live music.

What made this festival fun and different was that I saw artists creating masterpieces on the pavement made from chalk, a pizza tosser, a “swing” band getting 10 couples out on the dance floor, people getting their animals blessed in the local church, a band singing “Motown” in North Beach, and an overall fair that was divided into many different cells.

This event was so much fun that I spent a hefty amount time just walking and looking at the different booths that were here. I had some delicious Sicilian pizza. I listened to some great music. I saw some cool works of art. I got to see a pizza tosser and while taking a picture I caught a huge blob of raw pizza dough thrown randomly at me as the tosser was trying to throw it into the crowd behind his back. I even got a tan.

There is so much art and color and history in this festival that it was a shame that I haven’t come to this festival ever before. I do hope to come back in future years and I hope that if you haven’t attended the festival that it is one to mark on your To Do List.