Spring Arts Guide: Street Fairs And Associated Weirdness

Wearing short sleeves past 4 p.m. is the reason for the season.

Lower Polk/TL Art Walk
Thursday, April 6, May 4, and June 1, 6-10 p.m. lowerpolkartwalk.com

Art walks are hardly unusual, but seldom has one mushroomed so quickly. The hustlers and shakers in the Lower Polk Community Benefits District have assembled a plethora of galleries, bars, and restaurants, to revive the nightlife in a frequently overlooked corner of the city, making every first Thursday time for a stroll. Look for this one to get even bigger as the season unfolds.

CUESA’s Goat Festival
Saturday, April 15, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Ferry Building. Free – $5. cuesa.org

Squee! Adorable baby ruminants take over the Ferry Building for “Goatchella,” a most wonderful intrusion of the rural into the urban. Let the brilliant minds at the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA) show you all about animal husbandry and the art of cheesemaking — but note that reservations are required to pet the goats.

Hunky Jesus and Foxy Mary
Sunday, April 16, noon – 4 p.m. at Hellman Hollow in Golden Gate Park. Thesisters.org

As they do every Easter, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence present everyone’s favorite look-alike contests, where competitors vie for who most closely resembles a Jewish radical and his virginal mother. This year, in addition to the music and the bonnet contest, there’s a Trump Exorcism! Do you think Bill O’Reilly will have time to condemn it all in a fit of apoplectic rage, seeing as he’s so busy settling lawsuits related to sexual misconduct?

Pacific Coast Dream Machine Show
Sunday, April 30, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., at Half Moon Bay Airport, $30. miramarevents.com/dreammachines

Have you ever ridden in a biplane? You can come close to doing so at this festival of curious mechanical contraptions, muscle cars, kinetic rolling sculptures, and some really cool stuff that might come from the future. Beyond zip-lines, an Eagles cover band, and plenty of food, there’s also “Bob Senz’s Big Cacklefest,” when every engine on the tarmac revs in sync.

How Weird Street Faire
Sunday, May 7, noon – 8 p.m., centered on Howard and Second streets. $20. howweird.org

This preamble to Burning Man takes over an otherwise square intersection of SoMa for the 18th year in a row, with 11 stages plus a Circus Alley with aerialists and a lounge by Cirque du Soleil. This year’s theme is Summer of Weird, making the line between spectator and participant becomes nonexistent. Let’s get rilly, rilly weird, everybody.

Bay to Breakers
Sunday, May 21, 8 a.m., at Howard and Main streets. baytobreakers.com

Straight Pride, yes. Also a vomitorious puke-a-thon and an excuse to trash the Panhandle while wearing the same throw-up-encrusted Tigger costume from last year. But the 106th iteration of San Francisco’s most absurd footrace is a genuine competition as well as a party (and an excuse for everyone within a two-block radius of the “course” to go to Sonoma for the weekend).

San Francisco International Arts Festival
Thursday, May 25 – Sunday, June 4, at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, sfiaf.org

Fort Mason’s evolution from military facility to arts center hits high gear during this 11-day festival that brings modern Chinese choreography, Indonesian gamelan, contemporary tangos from Buenos Aires, and plenty of theatrical events across all genres. Look for A Room (Of Our Own), a live, mixed-media performance piece that combines dance, film, and art, and Brian Copeland’s 2004 Not a Genuine Black Man, which examines how a Bay Area grew as a “bastion of white supremacy.”

San Francisco Carnaval Festival
Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28, Harrison Street between 16th and 24th streets. carnavalsanfrancisco.org

The Mission, aka El Corazon de San Pancho, becomes a neighborhood-wide party on Memorial Day weekend, bursting with low-riders and high headpieces that represent the entirety of the Americas, plus West Africa. This year is all about solidarity and community-building, but like every year, the procession of costumes (and food) will be magnificent. Do you really want to go to BottleRock?

Union Street Music Festival
Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. unionstreetfestival.com

With live music in multiple genres littered throughout, the Union Street Festival has officially rebranded to emphasize its sonic orientation. Don’t miss the juried art amid all the Victorians that have opened their doors to the community.

Haight Ashbury Street Fair
Sunday, June 11, 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., on Haight Street between Stanyan Street and Masonic Avenue. Haightashburystreetfair.org

A tipster tells us there might be a 50th anniversary of something major involving the Haight this summer. In any case, one of S.F.’s biggest street fairs — with 200,000 people projected to attend — turns 40 in its own right, and promises plenty of food, music, cannabis consumption, and red, yellow, and green headwear.

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