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August 2, 2011 > It's festival time!

It's festival time!

By Mauricio Segura
Photos By Gerry Mooney

Fremont on its own is a nice place to spend the day. But on the weekend of August 6 and 7, it will be the place to be. You can even say it will be the center of the Bay Area. Celebrating its 28th year, the Fremont Festival of the Arts has become the largest free street festival this side of the Mississippi. For two full days, 385,000 people will enjoy great food, live music, and crafts while consuming over 18,000 ice cream bars and downing 23,500 mugs of ice cold beer.

First held at the Fremont Hub in 1983, the festival has since grown and moved to three large city blocks of central Fremont between Mowry Avenue, Paseo Padre Parkway, State Street and Walnut Avenue. Both BART and AC Transit are just two blocks away for those who prefer public transportation to dealing with driving or parking.

"I look forward to the festival every year," states retired nurse Joyce Wallace. "I've been able to buy unique gifts from the vendors there that I haven't seen anywhere else. I even do some of my Christmas shopping there." Eric Chitwood of Healdsburg says, "I found the fair by accident in the early 90s. My wife and I were on our way to San Jose but veered off in Fremont for some gas. There, we were told about the fair and decided to check it out. We've been going back every year since."

Kid City, run by the YMCA, is the place to take the kids, but fun for adults as well. Live music, jugglers, magic acts and other children's entertainment will be all-day events from its main stage. Kiddie rides, including a giant slide and trackless train are a big draw, but families are also invited to participate in health related educational activities.

And children will have the opportunity to become citizens of Kid City by visiting various sites and completing specific learning tasks and games. "My kids get tired of all the adult stuff, so it's a great break for them to go to the kid's section," explained Lori Wilson of Fremont. "They interact with other kids, paint, play, have a great time, and even learn! I'm so glad they added this section, because up until a few years ago, we had to just leave the festival early. Now we can enjoy the entire day."

The main stage on Mowry Avenue and Paseo Padre Parkway and a second on State Street and Beacon Avenue, will be the places to hear the best of local musical talent. Everything from jazz to country to good old Rock & Roll will be blaring all weekend long. And there will be plenty of room to strut your stuff if you feel the need to.

Of course, the biggest draw of the festival is the artisan booths. With approximately 650 booths lining a four-mile route featuring handcrafted jewelry, crafts, clothing, paintings, and much more, it is difficult to go home empty handed. "I've been going to the festival for the last six years since moving out here from Wyoming," says current Hayward resident Gail Johnston. "I love just walking from booth to booth and looking at everything. I always end up coming home with two bags full of adorable items."

Food-wise, the equivalent of the artisan booths is the Gourmet Marketplace. From fruit, candy, specialty salsas, tea, pasta, pies, nuts, and ethnic food specialties, everyone can stock up their pantries for the winter.

The Wine Garden is the festival's hidden treasure. It's a private, secluded shaded area open both days from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person per day, and each ticket holder is entitled to a preferred parking space near the Wine Garden, a 2011 festival wine glass, a drink ticket that can be used outside the Wine Garden, and a gourmet buffet served by some of Fremont's leading restaurants where premium wines are poured by experts and representatives from local wineries. The garden has full in-and-out privileges allowing enjoyment of the entire festival. An added bonus is that the Wine Garden provides a nice place to relax in the shade and cool off.

Featuring Fremont Chamber of Commerce Members, Business Alley is an outdoor trade show. Businesses will be promoting themselves throughout the day, with some distributing goodies.

As for the food and drinks, be prepared for sensory overload; wine from local wineries, national and locally brewed beer, margaritas and mixed drinks, and sodas and water. All those drinks will be necessary to wash down garlic fries, BBQ, hot dogs, gyros, nachos, calamari, pizza, tacos, burgers, and Philly Cheesesteaks. And best of all, each booth's sales will benefit a different local charity or service group. So while you're making your stomach happy, you're also benefiting a local program.

So pick a day or pick them both, and walk, bike, drive, bus, or BART to Fremont for a great experience that only happens once a year. Don't miss out!

Fremont Festival of the Arts
Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days
Central Fremont
(Between Paseo Padre Pkwy. and Fremont Blvd., and between Mowry Ave. and Walnut Ave.

Concert Schedule:

Saturday, August 6 (times subject to change)
Paseo Padre Stage - Paseo Padre Pkwy. and Walnut Ave.
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Liz Kennedy (Singer/Songwriter)
Noon - 1:30 p.m.: Danny Click (Americana)
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Contino (Zydeco and Blues)
4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Evolution (Journey Tribute)

State Street Stage - State Street and Beacon Ave.
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Fremont Christian School Dixie Dominus Jazz (Jazz)
Noon - 1 p.m.: Prairie (Country)
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.: TBD (Singer/Songwriter)
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Los High Tops (Rockabilly)
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Los High Tops (Rockabilly)

Sunday, August 7 (times subject to change)
Paseo Padre Stage - Paseo Padre Pkwy. and Walnut Ave.
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: James Nagel (Rock/Pop/Soul)
Noon - 1:30 p.m.: Amee Chapman & the Velvet Tumbleweeds (Americana)
2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Michael Lee Firkins (Rock)
4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Caravanserai (Santana Tribute)

State Street Stage - State Street and Beacon Ave.
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: GOTTA SING On Stage (Classic Rock)
Noon - 1 p.m.: Lunafish (Rock)
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.: Lunafish (Rock)
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.: Papa's Garage (Blues)
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Papa's Garage (Blues)

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