Bay Area Life

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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.

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56th Annual North Beach Festival

56th Annual North Beach Festival (click here for images)

The North Beach Festival never fails to be one of my favorite festivals to attend in the summer in San Francisco. The pleasant aromas of Italian pasta sauces and freshly oven baked pizzas fill the air. This year’s festival received some amazing weather and the attendance was beyond great. People filled Grant Avenue and Washington Square to enjoy the fun and leisure of the festival. Great music, great food, great art, and great vendors filled every nook and cranny.

Throughout the day, both Saturday and Sunday, the streets were jam packed with people observing and buying local art, sampling and buying snacks from food vendors, obtaining information from informative booths, and the randomly placed street performers to entertain.

Two main stages kept the crowds entertained with great artists who played a lot of upbeat Jazz and Contemporary music. The stage at Washington Square has the capacity to hold thousands of people with food & beer vendors and product vendors surrounding the park. The Green Street stage has a smaller area, but that doesn’t mean that the artists performing there are anything but small. With that said there was great music on Green Street as well as local bars and restaurants surrounding the stage along with food and beer vendors along from Columbus to Grant Avenue. There was also a smaller stage out on Filbert Street, but the majority of performances came from the other two main stages, the Filbert stage was more of a beer garden that had ambient music.

On Vallejo Street, chalk artists drew and colored some amazing pieces of art on the concrete. There were spaces for several artists to display their work, but there also were a couple available squares for anyone to make chalk art for a small nominal fee. Also on Vallejo Street, a sponsoring Las Vegas vendor came to build a large sand sculpture of a mini Las Vegas in a large sandbox with the sponsors giving out prizes for spinning a wheel.

Overall, the North Beach Festival was the place to be in San Francisco for the weekend of Father’s Day. It was such a beautiful weekend with amazing food, art, and music. People put on their happy faces and it seemed like the day was just meant to be perfect. Great festival to attend, bring out your family, friends, and neighbors next year because it’s going to be fun. You can count on that.

Pictures of the North Beach Festival can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.


Noodle Fest: A Cultural and Culinary Celebration

Noodle Fest: A Cultural and Culinary Celebration (click here for images)

The First Noodle Festival took to the streets of San Francisco in two neighboring districts, North Beach and Chinatown. Each community creates their own awesome style of noodle on a daily basis, but which noodle reigns supreme of the community from which they are from. The Noodle Fest was brought to you buy the Chinatown Community Development Center and North Beach Merchants Association. Many showed up for this event for its first running and I believe it will not be its last.

The festival was held on Grant Street between the Pacific and Vallejo Streets. On each end of the festival were two great bands. On the Pacific Street Stage was Jest Jammin. A cover-band known for their funk and jazzy hits of the late 70s and 80s. On the Vallejo Street Stage was the MS Collective jazz band.

Throughout the event there were a couple of live demonstrations on how to make two types of noodles/pasta. Chef Shen demonstrated to the audience on how to make Shanghai dumplings, while Chef Carventz demonstrated how to roll out some pasta and make ravioli. Both demonstrations were pretty interesting.

The food at the festival was a hit with samplings from six vendors for $15 pre-ordered or $20 at the fest. Many vendors at the festival did not anticipate the high volume of supporters and thus did not have enough pasta to distribute to paying consumers. Nonetheless, I can tell by the all the faces that everyone was pleased by the great food and fun that they had. Perhaps next year, the festival will grow in size and more demonstrations will be featured on perhaps how to cook certain dishes. Until next year, we will see what happens. If the festival is put on again, make sure you venture out and tastes what North Beach and Chinatown have to offer.

Pictures of the Noodle Fest can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.


141st Italian Heritage Parade

141st Italian Heritage Parade (click here for images)

The Italian Heritage Parade is the oldest Italian cultured parade in the United States and is a very entertaining parade at that. This is my first year in attendance and it was very enjoyable. There are lots of parades that go through the streets of San Francisco, but the Italian Heritage Parade has a warm sense of family and friendliness. The parade was held on Sunday during the Columbus Day Weekend and started at Fisherman’s Wharf and continued on Columbus Ave through North Beach ending at Washington Square.

The parade is held during San Francisco’s Fleet Week and the competition is fierce to get people in attendance. Most people I’ve seen at the wharf are tourists from out of town with a good chunk of locals as well. Since the air show is located on the northern end of San Francisco’s waterfront I decided to enjoy my first experience at the parade and attend the Blue Angels following the parade.

The parade was totally filled with lots of laughter and red, white, and green all over. In attendance were high school marching bands, drill teams from high school JROTC groups, festive floats, baton twirlers, politicians, Queen Isabella and her court, other pageant contestants, a few Shiners groups, Columbus Salami, Boudin Bakery, police and fire departments, the NorCal waste management garbage can drill team, horse associations, and many more.

I looked up the history of the Italian Heritage Parade and there are some pretty cool and interesting facts about the parade and their timeline. You can read more about some interesting facts and history of the parade located here.

The Italian Heritage Parade is one that I can’t believe I’ve never attended, but I will be sure to come back for more in the future. The colorful parade and people make this one parade to mark down on your calendars. I hope that next year the weather will cooperate and it will be sunny and warm.

Pictures of the 141st Italian Heritage Parade can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. Please feel free to leave me a comment below for the pictures and/or the posting.


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.