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North Beach Festival


Article by Romalyn Schmaltz

Columbus Avenue(Reprinted with permission from Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association publication, The Semaphore, July 2016)

Over 100 merchants and artists and 20 food vendors settled in to the North Beach blocks cordoned by Columbus and Grant Avenues, and Vallejo and Filbert Streets, for the 62nd annual North Beach Street Festival. While the Festival is traditionally held on Father’s Day Weekend, this year saw it bumped up a week, to the 11th and 12th of June.

Despite many seasoned vendors’ claims that attendance was down from previous years (the Haight Street Fair was held the same weekend, with a concert by Jefferson Airplane/Starship performing in tribute to North Beach’s own recently-deceased Paul Kantner), the crowds swarming between music stages, beer gardens, the traditional Blessing of the Animals at The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, high-voltage chalk art displays across the street on Vallejo, and the regular bars, restaurants, and merchants of the neighborhood definitely felt like it was business-as-usual in the village this year. A full palette of our usual microclimates greeted attendees, so it was summer-sweaty, San Francisco-foggy, and full of the spirit one associates with the enthusiasm of the summer equinox.

The Telegraph Hill Dwellers have been instrumental as hosts, sponsors, and promoters of the Festival since its inception in 1954. Along with the essential North Beach Business Association (NBBA) and other neighborhood alliances, we strive to diversify and improve the event experience year after year, while helping it retain our neighborhood's inimitable character. Like the NBBA, we also wish to encourage local merchants and restaurants to consider acquiring a space at next year’s Festival beyond their brick-and-mortar location. Not only are incentives available for locals who wish to have a table or a booth, as Kathleen Dooley, Treasurer of the NBBA, put it, “ It is always a work in progress between the NBBA and the producer to push towards a more unique event while retaining some of the classic features like Animal Blessing and chalk drawings.” Please join us in this endless work in progress.

By the way, did you know that the NB Festival used to be called the Upper Grant Avenue Street Fair? Please take a gander at the next Fall issue of The Semaphore, in which we will feature an extended Oral History of The North Beach Street Festival, with photos from the rich archives of stalwart North Beach businesses.

North Beach Festival 2017

The North Beach Business Association is proud to sponsor the Annual North Beach Festival. We are anticipating the best festival ever in 2017.

Detailed information will be forthcoming!