There is nothing more American than a demolition derby at a county fair, or a small town Americana festival named after a fruit or vegetable, or an over-the-hill pop band performing a free concert at one of these provincial local celebrations. The Bay Area has many of these to offer this summer, despite the fact that we identify primarily as city slickers. We’ve rounded up the quirkiest, kitschiest, most all-American of these local celebrations that still remain on tap for this summer, beginning with this weekend’s Demolition Derby festivities at the Alameda County Fair.
Demolition Derby at Alameda County Fair
The Alameda County Fair has demolition derbies lined up this whole long holiday weekend at their “Action Sports Arena”, with standard demolition derbies Friday and Saturday night and an RV demolition derby Sunday night. This fair also has free concerts from Expose (July 1) and The Guess Who (July 2).
Friday, July 1, Saturday, July 2, and Sunday July 3 at 7 p.m. at the Alameda County Fair
Foreigner, Sheila E., Kool & The Gang at Marin County Fair
The Marin County Fair has some pretty spectacular washed-up pop acts lined up for free concerts (with fair admission), highlighted by Kool & The Gang (July 1), Sheila E. (July 2) and Foreigner (July 4). You will get a fireworks display after each show.
Friday, July 1, Saturday, July 2, and Monday July 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Marin County Fair
Image: Kevin Y. via Yelp
Sunday Streets in San Francisco
San Francisco does not have a county fair (though we do have a County Fair Building!), but we've got the recurring, nomadic outdoor Sunday Streets festivals taking place a few more times this summer and then monthly all the way through November. Check the Sunday Streets website for dates and locations.
Sunday, July 10 (Tenderloin), Sunday, August 21 (Mission) and one Sunday per month in various San Francisco neighborhoods.
Gilroy Garlic Festival
The grandaddy of all northern California festivals named after a food item, the 38th annual Gilroy Garlic Festival will once again deliciously wreck the breath of more than 100,000 cloven garlic lovers, with garlic ice cream, a pyro chefs flame-up contest and of course the crowning of the Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen.
Friday, July 29 - Sunday, July 30 at Christmas Hill Park, Gilroy
Image: Jussi via Flickr
Elvis Day at the Sonoma County Fair
Elvii young and old can’t help falling in love with the Sonoma County Fair’s annual Elvis-off known as “Elvis Day”, with a $1,500-prize Elvis impersonation contest, Elvis trivia contests, a “Thank you very much contest” and naturally, free peanut butter and banana sandwiches. The following Saturday, the fair features a free concert from the one and only El Vez.
Elvis Day on Saturday, July 30; El Vez on Saturday, August 6, 6:30 and 8 p.m. at the Sonoma County Fair
Demolition Derby, English Beat at the Santa Clara County Fair
When early August rolls around, the Santa Clara County Fair is also busting out a demolition derby, plus the ska-punk-reggae stylings of the English Beat.
English Beat on Friday, August 5 at 7:30 p.m; Demolition Derby on Saturday, August 6 at 5 p.m. at the Santa Clara County Fair
Image: San Jose Tamale Fest via Facebook
San Jose Tamale Fest
Hey, joven! Everyone’s a Tamale Lady at the the San Jose Tamale Fest, a delightfully corn-y festival featuring live music, a tamale-eating contest, and the awarding of the highly coveted Best Tamales title.
Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7 at Emma Prusch Park in San Jose
Hayward Zucchini Festival
It’s a cute name for a festival. I’ll give you that much, Hayward. And I’ll bet there’ll be some good zucchini there.
Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21 at Kennedy Park in Hayward
Image via Alameda County Fair