This Weekend’s Adams Avenue Street Fair Almost Didn’t Happen

by on September 23, 2022 · 0 comments

in San Diego

This weekend’s 40th anniversary of the Adams Avenue Street Fair, a landmark for free music, crafts, food and drink, almost didn’t come off. Two weeks ago, it looked like the sponsoring organization, the Adams Avenue Business Association, would have to pull the plug on the annual festival.

It has been a trying time for the business group and its staff. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 event was cancelled. Then, again, in 2021. Scott Kessler, executive director of the Association, explained to the San Diego U-T:

“In 2020 we had to cancel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were all set to resume last September. But then the Delta variant surged and we had to cancel just six weeks out — and lost a lot of money. We thought that if we canceled this year, it would be the end of the event. Choosing to celebrate our 40th anniversary now, after having to cancel what would have been our 39th and 40th editions in 2020 and 2021, was a pandemic-inspired discretion or correction.”

Facing skyrocketing pandemic-fueled production costs, the festival was already being challenged, when it was hit with new safety regulations from the city’s fire department. After 39 years or so of doing it one way, the festival organizers were ordered to create a 20-foot-wide fire lane. This at first seemed an impossible task, as it would require a slimming down of the number of vendors and make access for the vendors to set up more difficult.

Kessler and his board mulled cancelling the event over these brand-new safety demands. Could they afford to cancel or should they just bite the bullet? The festival raises funds for other events that the Adams Avenue group organizes over the year. All this created some tense moments and a Sunday emergency meeting of the board.

Finally, the board acquiesced to the city fire department demands. Kessler to the U-T:

“The new safety regulations have raised our costs. Band fees have increased, our Porta Potty rental fees have doubled and the price we’re paying for everything has gone up. Everyone’s been out of business for two years, so how can you fault them? Our board voted to lose money on the event this year and not to cancel it. We made the right decision.”

The board’s decision meant the number of vendors at this year’s event, 230, would have to be limited and is down by 70 from the 2019 edition. According to Kessler, that has resulted in a loss of $40,000 for the event in vendor’s fees. Likewise, the total of 66 music acts at this weekend’s event is down by a third from 2019 and the $28,000 talent budget allowed for only a few small national acts to be booked.

“Before we canceled our 2021 street fair, we paid $12,000 for five stages. This year, it costs $24,500 for four stages and the city has cut our funding back from $60,000 to $29,000,” Kessler noted.

The 2022 festival takes place this Saturday and Sunday, and will feature 66 bands, solo artists and DJs performing on six stages, and there will be attractions ranging from carnival rides for kids to craft beer tastings for adults. The music lineup includes such local favorites as the Beat Farmers, Mrs. Henry, The Loons and Manual Scan.


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: