Sunday marks the 42nd annual Castro Street Fair, a non-profit event founded by Harvey Milk in 1974 during the neighborhood's burgeoning days as a gay district. These days it is the calmer, less sexualized bookend to the summer party season, coming as it always does the week after Folsom Street Fair a fair which actually didn't begin until some ten years later, but has grown into something far larger than a single-day event.
For organizers of the fair like board chair Juan Garcia, it's also a bittersweet occasion this year to remember one of the fair's cornerstone performers and MCs, Cookie Dough, who died suddenly in January due to complications from meningitis. Cookie, a.k.a. Ed Bell, was in Puerto Vallarta with several other drag performers preparing for a command performance of The Golden Girls Live when she fell ill, and despite being airlifted back to San Francisco, died at age 52, leaving a lot of sadness in the drag community in her wake. This means that this year's Castro Street Fair will be the first in a long time without Cookie Dough presiding over the 18th Street Stage with her Monster Show.
This year, her duties will be performed by new Monster Show hostesses Sue Casa and Sugah Betes.
As Garcia writes, via Facebook.
It’s been almost a decade since I was invited to be a board member of the Castro Street Fair. My job was to assist with revamping the look and feel of the Fair, the entertainment stages and streamlining stage production...
One improvement I wanted to make was the presence at the 18th Street stage. Previous producers had tried a number of things, from contests to Hip-Hop to dance performances, without getting much traction...
Many performers returned year after year, updating their acts and fine tuning their art. The most incredible of these artists was my sweet friend, Cookie Dough, with the help of her partner, MC2. I only had to share with her the theme and she would round up an army of wild drag kings and queens to invade our Market Street Stage (and most of the backstage area) with her wacky Monster Show performers. They would paint the stage with a carnival of lip-synced stories, nostalgic music and dance. She was a true professional and always made my life so easy leading up to and during the Fair.
The one thing I remember most about Cookie Dough was her optimistic attitude. She always had something nice to say about everyone and everything. Cookie had a knack for brushing off the stress of the day with an, “oh well...” followed by a corny joke. This was a rare trait amongst us gays and most definitely amongst her harem of strong drag queens. I miss this the most about her.
About five years ago we decided to move Cookie’s Monster Show spectacle closer to its weekly home bar, the Edge [on 18th Street]...
This year we dedicate the Fair, and especially the 18th Street Stage, to our beloved friend, Cookie Dough. We celebrate her work with performances on every stage in wigs and drag. We also have added a second tee shirt this year with photo art by photographer, Jose A Guzman Colon. Be sure to stop by our Info and Merch Booth to get yours!
Please “Wig Out” with us this year to show how much we love and miss our very own drag superstar, Cookie Dough.
Read more about the fair and its beneficiaries here, and note that a large section of Market Street as well as Castro and 18th Street will be closed most of the day Sunday.
The Castro Street Fair goes from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Previously: SF Drag Community Mourns Death Of Cookie Dough