When it comes to scoping out the best ‘fest’ in San Diego, it doesn’t get any better than this
by BART MENDOZA
Jun 26, 2014 | 16002 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival swings into action for its 35th year, drawing roughly 70,000 visitors to the annual community celebration.
The Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival swings into action for its 35th year, drawing roughly 70,000 visitors to the annual community celebration.
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With its mix of sun, surf, food and music, there is no other event quite like the Ocean Beach Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off Festival.

One of the year’s best bets for family-friendly fun and entertainment, 2014 marks the seaside street fair’s 35th anniversary, with more than 70,000 visitors expected to take part in music, art, activities of all sorts — and just making new friends along the way.

Participants strolling down Newport Avenue and its cross-streets will find tons of free activities to stimulate the senses, along with the fresh sea air.

There will be more than 250 vendors and artisans on hand, with foods from around the world on offer, as well as arts and crafts ranging from handmade jewelry to paintings and even a few unique rides for kids of all ages.

This year’s theme is “OB-Opoly,” based on the classic board game.

For a $5 donation, contestants can take part in 15-minute intervals from noon to 4 p.m. Winners of each round receive a copy of the localized board game, with the grand-prize winner scoring a new bike.

According to Liz Greene, creative director for the host Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, the street fair “is about celebrating the community and having fun, so we felt that this game would be the perfect way to do that. The game was unveiled at the end of last year’s street fair, and we felt this was a great way to involve fairgoers in something that is about the area.”

Among the street fair’s annual highlights are the ever-popular chili cook-off and five stages of music, as well as the increasingly popular Artists’ Alley area. Now taking up two blocks of Cable Street, this part of the street fair has become one of San Diego’s best spots to find original arts and crafts.

While the event has things in common with other street fairs, there are also many things that make it unique, starting with the fact that it takes place at the foot of the Pacific Ocean.

However, what truly separates this Ocean Beach Street Fair from the others is its neighborhood feel.

There are rides and a beer garden, music and food. But the event is more about celebrating Ocean Beach and all it has to offer.

The sense of civic pride is palpable, from the event’s start to finish, including youngster Jaylin Brown singing the national anthem on the 92107 stage at 9:50 a.m. and again on the main stage an hour later.

Other civic-minded activities include the opportunity for eventgoers to participate in the painting of a community mural.

Other events sure to draw crowds include a bikini contest in the beer garden, a Bloody Mary contest between local bars and restaurants and the first Hodad’s Burger Eating Contest.

The name of the winner of the latter will be placed on a commemorative license plate and hung in a place of honor at the famed restaurant.

Years of involvement with the street fair haven’t dulled Greene’s appreciation for the event.

“It’s an amazing thing to see the streets closed and the booths and everything going up,” she said. “All these people working together to make it happen. The speed of the whole thing is amazing,” she said. “And by midnight, thanks to that hard-working crew, everything is back to normal.”

Anyone hoping to avoid traffic on event day will want to take advantage of the four free trolleys running continually every half-hour throughout the day, from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Guests can park their cars at two outer parking lots (Robb Field and the Sunrunner lot at Pacific Highway and Sea World Drive) and shuttle directly to the street fair.

The drop-off is right at Artists’ Alley.

Meanwhile, those heading to the street fair on their bicycles will find a valet service in front of Winston’s Beach Club on Bacon Street, courtesy of the Bicycle Coalition.
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