Noe Valley Voice October 2009

How to Raise Hay At the Oct. 24 Harvest Festival

By Olivia Boler

The fifth annual Noe Valley Harvest Festival, the neighborhood entry in San Francisco's street fair sweepstakes, will be ripe for fun on Saturday, Oct. 24. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., revelers young and old will pour onto 24th Street, which will be closed to traffic from Church to Sanchez streets.

If you've been to the fest in the past, you'll see some familiar attractions: the horse-drawn wagon on 24th Street, kids and pets in costume, a stilt walker, jugglers, live music at two stages, and more than 60 booths filled with arts and crafts.

There also will be a few new treats, says Kathy White, fair organizer and a member of the all-volunteer Noe Valley Association, which sponsors the festival along with dozens of local businesses and residents groups.

"We want to incorporate some things for older children," White says. "To that end, there will be two jumpy houses this year, one with a slide or other kind of feature that will appeal to older kids."

Jumpy? Pay a Dollar

The jumpy houses, face-painting, pumpkin patch, caricaturist, and balloon artist will all be on Vicksburg Street, and this year you'll need tickets to participate. These will cost $1 and can be purchased at the information booth near the main stage at 24th and Church streets or at a ticket stand on Vicksburg. White says the activities cost one ticket each, and "the monies raised go towards entertainment for the festival. Any additional proceeds are given back to the neighborhood by way of greening projects and/or benches along the 24th Street corridor."

The horse-pulled wagon, aka the hayride (although there's been very little hay in recent years that wasn't eaten by the horses), will operate from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Passengers can line up to giddyup on Castro Street in front of Walgreen's. The hayride is sponsored by the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

Rock and Flamenco

Main-stage music, says volunteer impresario Andrew Keeler, kicks off at 10:15 a.m., with a performance by the Alphabet Rockers. Guitar riffs will make way for dance moves at 11 a.m., when the James Lick Middle School Dance Program appears. Wee the Band, a rock/pop band with female vocalists, plays at 12:15 p.m., followed by hula hoop star Stefan Serafina (1:15 p.m.). At 2 p.m., the Lovitt/Page rock band will take the stage. Then it's the flamenco dance troupe Gypsy Tease, accompanied by flamenco guitarist Ryan Garcia (3 p.m.). Go Van Gogh, describing itself as "country music, but we're not sure which country," will close out the festival at 4 p.m.

Keeler is also organizing contestants for the festival's pie-eating contest, sponsored by Noe Valley Bakery. Those who like to consume baked goods at lightning speed and in copious quantities should sign up for the 3:15 p.m. event at the main stage on Church.

Costume Contests for Kids & Dogs

If your child or pup is coming to the fair dressed for Halloween, be sure to partake in the annual costume contests. The children's contest takes place at 11:30 a.m., and dogs will strut their stuff at 1:30 p.m. Noe Valley cartoonist and comedian Michael Capozzola will emcee the day.

One thing festival-goers might have noticed in past years is the absence of food booths. That won't change this year, as the Association hopes people will buy food at local shops or restaurants. As at previous fests, the Noe Valley Farmers Market will remain open all day, and there will be food stalls in the lot, as well as a second venue for music.

Richard Hildreth, who is on the Farmers Market board, says the "musical entertainment [will be] a diverse lineup, from the jazz/folk artist Damond Moodie to the faithful early-20th-century jazz of the Ragtime Skedaddlers to the pièce de résistance, a group of 14-year-old girl rockers from San Francisco, the SHE's, who are really going to be something someday soon."

First-Ever Bake-Off

Another contribution from the Farmers Market will be the Noe Valley Bake-Off, a contest for local (and Market) cooks. There won't be any categories, so raid your recipe box for anything from breakfast to dessert. Noe Valley merchants Cooks Boulevard, Omnivore Books on Food, and Phoenix Books, as well as the Farmers Market, will provide prizes.

"The idea is to share our neighbors' knowledge of how they prepare the bounty that the Noe Valley Farmers Market is known for," says Hildreth. "Everyone who shops at the Farmers Market is doing something wonderful with the produce, and it would really be something to share these recipes, not to mention the actual dishes themselves."

Always Family-Friendly

White believes the Noe Valley Harvest Festival stands out from other San Francisco street fairs because it's so family-friendly. "In my mind, the other fairs are geared toward adults, and the children are forgotten, and that's what makes ours different," she says. "A lot of items at the festival, like the bands and the arts and crafts, are geared towards the family. And the date is close to Halloween, which is all about children. They get to dress up and be crazy once a year, and that's really fun."

If you want to find out more, check out the fair's website, And if you're interested in volunteering, contact White at White says some schools will give students extra credit for volunteering, so they should check in with their teachers to find out about participating in the festival.