by Mike James / Out of Bounds
The first street fair which took place July 4th, 1982 and was an expansion of the Fireworks Festival which began in 1980 (hence the 30th annual).
Sponsored by the Ocean Beach Merchants Association and KPRI Radio, the event was held on the 4900 and 5000 blocks of Newport Ave. With no vendors and a crowd in the hundreds, it seemed somewhat bare compared to the hundreds of vendors and the tens of thousands that show up now a days.
The venue included a few rides, a stage for the 4 bands and a 40’×80′ metal fence encased “Beer Garden”.
Still fun was had by all.
My favorite memory was the mechanical bull which was situated right in front of the Strand Theater. I can still hear the amplified Texas twanged voice of the bull operator as he encouraged the crowd, “Whose gonna ride this here bull in Oceeean Beeeeach Calli-forn-ya.” Urban Cowboy had just been released and Obcieans wanted to give John Travolta a run for his money. So with long hair a flyin, many earned the title of “O.B. Buckaroo”.
The most popular event that day was the competition for the coveted title of Miss and Mister O.B. In the late afternoon, bikini clad ladies and muscular men strutted their stuff in front of hundreds of adoring fans. With no Q and A, winners were quickly chosen and the audience and contestants poured back into the bars.
Another highlight was a martial artist breaking a world’s record by breaking something like 5 blocks of ice with his bare hands. I believe the ice was later used for Margaritas at Le Chalet.*
Much was learned by the committee that first year. I recall pushing a broom up and down Newport Avenue at ten o’clock that evening (while cursing my co-chair and brother Ron who was entrenched at Pac Shores) and thinking next year we should hire a cleaning crew.
It’s satisfying to see that this event has become one of San Diego’s premier events.
*the Le Chalet later became Bullfrog’s and is currently Gallagher’s Irish Pub. Also the ice was never really used for human consumption