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By Erin O'Briant
October may turn out to be the busiest month of the year for Noe Valleyans. There's the Harvest Fest on Oct. 13, and the first-ever Noe Valley House Tour sponsored by the Victorian Alliance on Oct. 21. Then comes Halloween 10 days later, when most of us, young and old, can't resist getting dressed up for treat-or-treating on 24th Street. It's time to start sewing--or scouring the thrift stores for a costume.
Pick a Pumpkin on 24th Street
You'll need to wear something special to win the costume contest at the third annual Noe Valley Harvest Festival, which takes place on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The street fair, held on 24th Street from Sanchez to Church, will feature more than 70 arts and food booths; contests, games, and performers on two stages; the traditional pumpkin patch; and the ever-popular ride in a haywagon pulled by horses through Downtown Noe Valley. A labor of love by a core group of volunteers, the event is sponsored by dozens of neighborhood groups and businesses, including Friends of Noe Valley, the Noe Valley Association (CBD), and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.
Fair organizers say one of the surprises this year will be a new Primp My Stroller Contest. Sponsored by Artery studio, the competition will ask Noe Valleyans to decorate their baby strollers to see who has the snazziest at the fest. Contestants in the 18-and-up category have a chance to win a brand-new stroller and a $100 gift certificate to Incanto Ristorante. Baby blingers ages 13 to 17 could take home a $50 gift certificate to Artsake, and those under age 12 can win a gift certificate to the Ark toy shop. To participate, come to the main stage at Church and 24th streets at noon. Winners will be chosen by Supervisor Bevan Dufty.
Other contest participants can compare dog tricks, dogs in Halloween costumes (kids in costume, too), pie-eating skills, and gardening presentations. This year's raffle prizes include haircuts, restaurant gift certificates, a gym membership, museum passes, and more.
More Crafts and More Food
Festival spokesperson Linda Saytes says folks can expect to see many more artists and craftspeople this year--some hailing from the neighborhood. Eighty-five kinds of art, photography, jewelry, clothing, and crafts will be on display, including landscape paintings, beaded hairclips, and handmade leather jackets. And after you've seen all that, there's juggling, a caricaturist, and face-painting, too.
Good eats also will be in plentiful supply. According to Saytes, three new food vendors will sell treats this year: Bennett Valley Bread and Pastry, which specializes in handcrafted rustic breads; Juicey Lucy's, an organic juice and smoothie maker; and Sukhi's Indian Foods, which specializes in samosas, chutneys, marinades, and naan. In addition, there will be goodies from the local Kookez Cafe, Mission Kids Coop, Narsai's, and Peas of Mind.
The new addition to the fest's music lineup is the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, a San Franciscobased group that includes kids from all over the Bay Area. Other performers are the Noe Valley rock band Playdate, the James Lick Middle School rock band, and the blues band Nitecaps with Noe Valleyan Brian McCue. In addition, the Farmers' Market will be in full swing from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., with its own lineup of musicians performing folk, blues, and rock.
Noe Valley merchants will be selling raffle tickets before and during the festival. Look in store windows for the flyer with the colorful pumpkins, leaves, and animal characters. The image was the creation of 18-year-old Ann Louise Markison, who won this year's festival logo contest. Saytes says Markison, a lifelong Noe Valley resident and a School of the Arts graduate, has won several other arts awards and is planning to begin school at the Maryland Institute College of Art with a scholarship this January.
Parking for the fair will be available for a $10 donation at James Lick Middle School, 1220 Noe Street (your donation will go the school's programs). The free hayride, which is sponsored by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, will start at 11 a.m. in front of the Walgreen's on Castro Street near Jersey. Note: the horses stop around 2:30 p.m. For more information, including a listing of booths and performers, visit the festival web site at www.noevalleyharvestfestival.com.
Noe Victorians on Parade
As if the Harvest Fest weren't enough excitement, the following weekend you can sneak a peek inside the "painted ladies" of Noe Valley at the Victorian Alliance's House Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 21, from 1 to 5 p.m. The walking tour includes 10 stops: two churches and eight private residences, within the boundaries of 22nd, Clipper, Vicksburg, and Diamond streets. A shuttle van will be available for those who need it.
Tickets for the Noe Valley House Tour are $25; purchase yours on the day of the tour at the ticket booth that will be set up on Elizabeth Street between Castro and Diamond streets. The Alliance will also sell advance tickets at the Harvest Festival on Oct. 13. For more information, call 824-2666 or visit www.victorianalliance.org.
Cackling All the Way to Hoffman
The final showstopper of the month will be Halloween, of course. As most Noe Valleyans know, the witching hour comes early on Oct. 31, starting whenever the stores on 24th Street creak open their doors (usually around 11 a.m.). "The merchants always have treats for the kids," explains Donna Davis, owner of Forbeadin and co-president of the Noe Valley Merchants Association. And kids of all ages are invited to drop by the local shops from midday through early evening.
Meanwhile, the hotbed of activity on Church Street is likely to be the One-Stop Party Shop near 28th Street, which has extended hours Oct. 31 to help with last-minute getups, fake wigs, and whiskers. (Speaking of whiskers, a few days before Halloween, on Sunday, Oct. 28, the Noe Valley Pet Company is holding its pet costume and portrait party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Church near Cesar Chavez.)
At the western tip of the neighborhood, "a great group of witches is brewing up cauldrons of Halloween excitement," says Marilyn Lucas, one of the organizers of the annual Halloween festivities on Noe's most haunted street, Hoffman Avenue. This year, the cobwebs on Hoffman on Oct. 31 will stretch from 24th to Alvarado streets, from 6 to 8 p.m. Lucas says there will be scads of treats, ghastly decorations, and maybe even a skeleton band. Listen for the eerie music.
Halloween in the City
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, traditional festivities in the Castro on Halloween night have been cancelled and no official party is scheduled. But there are many Halloween activities all over the city throughout the month of October. Here are just a few, supplied to the Voice by a fortune teller working at the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Friday through Sunday, Oct. 5-7
Shock It to Me!
This three-day horror film festival at the Castro Theatre features 12 classic chillers, and guest stars Veronica Carlson (Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) and director Joe Dante (The Howling). Call 621-6120 or visit www.castrotheatre.com or www.shock-it-to-me.com.
Saturday, Oct. 27
Family Halloween Day
The Randall Museum offers ghoulish games, pumpkins, two shows of "Tricks and Treats," and Jackie Jones and her amazing dancing cat. 199 Museum Way, off Roosevelt above 14th and Castro streets, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 554-9600 or visit www.randallmuseum.org.
Saturday, Oct. 27
Boo at the Zoo
The yearly event at the San Francisco Zoo is highlighted by a Haunted Nature Trail, a Creepy Crawley Critter show, and gorillas, bears, and chimps enjoying a "Pumpkin Stomp and Chomp." San Francisco Zoo, One Zoo Road, Great Highway and Sloat, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free with paid zoo admission. For more information, call 415-753-7080 or visit www.sfzoo.org.
Wednesday, Oct. 31
City Guides conducts a free walk through the haunted halls of City Hall, featuring assassination lore and a ghost-filled cemetery. 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, 6:30 p.m. Call 557-4266 or visit www.sfcityguides.org.
Wednesday, Oct. 31
The Haunted Presidio
Dress warmly and bring a flashlight for a Halloween park adventure with Ranger Rik Penn. Presidio of San Francisco, corner of Lincoln Boulevard and Funston Avenue, 6 to 7:30 p.m. For reservations (required), call 561-4323 or visit www.parksconservancy.org.
Friday, Nov. 2
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
The annual procession through the Mission District begins at the corner of 24th and Bryant, 7 p.m. Bring flowers, photos, or other mementos of the lives of those now gone, to the Festival of Altars at Harrison and 26th streets. For more information, visit www.dayofthedeadsf.org, or to see a Dia de los Muertos walking tour go to www.jwalks.com.