Arts and CultureSan Francisco

Festival Fuckery — SF’s 9 Best Fests of The Year

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Stuart giving me a lecture about not being drunk enough to run an Indie Mart booth [Indie Mart #8}

If there is anytime to ever have fun without spending all the skrilla in your pocket, its definitely during a festival. There is always some way to hawk free food, booze and someone who always wants to get taken home. Here are our favorite SF blowouts that consider a serious standing ovation.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Fest
If there was any way to make MC Hammer and Steve Martin country, the city has found out the secret. Known for booking amazing acts like Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and even Gogol Bordello, the festival lets you kick up your heels without being transported to the bumfuck-middle-of-nowhere. Throw on your best cowboy hat, pour a flask of moonshine and break out those ass less chaps from Folsom one more time before Christmas.

Bay To Breakers
Though technically not free, the amount of party crashers that have been showing up to this race has been in the thousands for years. Whether you dress up, dress down or are simply a spectator to the action, there is no better day to make friends in the city. People hand out booze, sexual favors, food, costume leftovers and water like its Halloween and they’re not trying to poison you, kid! [Or are they?]

How Weird Street Faire
The costume, the exhibits, the makeup and the people here all combine to make this one trainwreck clusterfuck of hilarity. Some of the costumes here can rival even our new First Lady of Outrageousness, Lady Gaga. The best part is that usually many proceeds from this festival go to a great charity! Nothing like putting money in the pot while being bombarded by pink gorillas and people obviously lost in another generation.

Folsom Street Fair
This event, WHICH IS HAPPENING ON SUNDAY!, makes for a quintessential SF experience. Get spanked, chained, whipped, teased and tickled by some of the city’s finest leather daddies and dominatrixes. It is not uncommon to see someone whacking it, being naked or otherwise having full-on sex in the streets, so it’s not for the lighthearted. But, in same respect, you can’t really understand San Francisco without actually seeing this happen. Just a word to the wise — wear close toed shoes. Trust me on this.

The Really Really Free Market
Though this one is more reoccurring, I think it fits. There are people that don’t always have a lot of cash, but can do something really well and would rather lend their services versus their dinner money. There is a true sense of community at these events, and it’s also a place that you can head if you’re strapped for cash. Kind of like Burning Man without paying the absurd admission fee just to pass out from too much acid and sand in your crotch.

A weekend for the gay homecoming is completely too short and far too packed to truly enjoy every aspect, but we sure as hell try. From dance parties to sex parties to coming out parties, it seems like the entire city is down to get crazy. A lot of the best house parties that I’ve been to in the city have been on Pride weekend. If you’re a little too conservative to join in on the party, people watching is always choice.

Fillmore Jazz Festival
Two words: festival food. You know its bad for you, but you can’t help it. If you can spare a couple bucks, they have it here on every block'literally. This festival used to take place outside my apartment and you have no idea how enticing the smell of kabobs can be from three stories up. Plus, the free music is never a bad thing either.

Indie Mart
What can be said about the Indie Mart that hasn’t been already? It’s the only one that leaves me with a handful of new friends, a grip of cool shit and a hangover that lasts for two days. Enough said.

Zine Fest
Though its grown to be quite the event, the Zine Fest is all about keeping that independent credibility that so many events lose over time. Nerding out over methods, writing and sewn binding versus staple binding, everyone here is always doing something really badass. Walking out without buttons and reading material for the next month is like going to the Tenderloin and not getting a contact high from a crackhead: impossible.

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Monica Miller - The Intern

Monica Miller - The Intern

Ms. Miller was born in San Diego, CA to one lesbian mother and one
righteous, cheap father. Currently, she is enrolled at San Francisco
State University for a B.A. in Journalism and the approximate
completion date is around 2015. She has worked for many papers in the
Bay Area, including the Oakland Tribune and the San Mateo Country
Times and is currently the city editor at one of the most
underappreciated publications in SF, the Golden Gate [X]press. Though
she may find bargains aplenty, it only stems from the necessity of
never landing an actual job and working for hacks [like Stuart.] With
intelligence, style, poise, bite, and honesty, she will rip your heart
out; but not before writing some awesome, poignant shit. This year,
she is looking forward to bigger and better things such as: trying to
get paid for a gig, actually finding a date that isn't a loser or
fucking crazy, not calling her parents when hungover and bringing you
the best of the 7x7 everyday of the week. [By the way, I wasn't
kidding about the date thing; if you love food, booze and shoegaze,
get at me.]


  1. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    September 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    This is a fantastic list, Monica — I have a friend who just moved to SF and asked me what the best fests were to go to — these were all the ones on my list. 🙂

  2. Monica Miller - The Intern
    September 26, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks, dude! Make sure she goes to Hardly Strictly next weekend.

  3. […] The Best — Folsom Street Fair 2009 Written by Monica Miller – The Intern September 27, 2009 Festival Fuckery — SF’s 9 Best Fests of The Year Written by Monica Miller – The Intern September 26, 2009 Broke-Ass Porn: The Pabst Blue Ribbon […]

  4. Kate Kotler - DIY Diva
    September 28, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Yah, totally — I have to make sure to go to that, too! 🙂 I missed Folsom this year (though my theory about Folsom is once you’ve gone, you just don’t have to go ever again…)