Now in its 16th year, more than 50,000 people are expected to attend the free, family-friendly event, taking place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the boardwalk between Diamond and Thomas streets.
San Diego boasts many great open-air events, but few match the sheer diversity of options that Pacific BeachFest offer.
It’s an action-packed eight hours of fun and entertainment. The day features some of the same attractions as similar street fairs, with plenty of food, merchandise and information booths, a kids’ area and entertainment on three stages. The main stage will include nine performers, with an eclectic mix of combos like reggae rockers Split Finger, funky trio Boom Snap and the New Orleans-inspired Euphoria Brass Band, along with singer-songwriters like Ryan Hiller, Hev Rock and Brent Curtis.
Meanwhile, the craft-beer garden will feature a mix of six DJs, including Billy The Kid, Jeremiah James and Chris Cutz. The community stage will feature eight area favorites, including The Trunks, Summer Mencher, The Big Daddy Blues Band and local school-based groups like the Crown Point Jr. Music Academy and the Mission Bay Preservationists.
While these are all ingredients for a great day out, it’s still only the beginning for BeachFest. What sets the event apart is it’s active component. Among the activities on the beach are Revolt in Style magazine’s Summer Surf Series Finals at the Crystal Pier, a volleyball tournament and a tennis clinic and tournament. There will also be an Action Alley spotlighting action sports, featuring half-pipe demonstrations and lots of skateboard and bike-riding acrobatics. Visitors can also check out the Beach Fish Taco Challenge, featuring food from some of the area’s best-known restaurants like the PB Shore Club, Oscars Mexican Seafood, The Fish Shop, Moondoggies, PB Alehouse and the Sandbar Sports Grill.
With such a large potential audience, musicians frequently say they enjoy performing at BeachFest because they consider it a prime gig.
“You get all walks of life playing these events and it’s great to see their reactions when we first start playing,” said JP Balmat, saxophonist with the Euphoria Brass Band. “In the end, we are able to expose people to a style of music they might not be familiar with, and hopefully they enjoy it. When a show goes well, the energy you get from a large crowd is the best feeling in the world.”
Having played the event previously, Balmat notes that despite traffic and crowd logistics, it’s not hard to maneuver around the event, even when performers are carrying musical instruments.
“It has never been difficult for me,” said Balmat. “The volunteers and traffic people working the event are always super friendly and want to make sure you have what you need.” On the other hand, “This is my first year playing the main stage, so I’m hoping for the best.”
Balmat said the band does adapt its repertoire for outdoor concerts.
“We definitely tailor our sets a little differently for these events,” he said. “We give it everything we have and make sure to pull out the fan favorites. We want to keep our crowd on their feet and moving for that entire hour.”
As with any large event in San Diego, taking public transportation is recommended. Free valet bicycle parking is available at Thomas Street.
• Pacific BeachFest takes place beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6 from Diamond Street to Thomas Street. Free. www.pacificbeachfest.org.