I drove around the big loop three or four times, looking for a parking space. It was 1 pm, which is my preferred time for going out to things, and certainly a lot better than hauling all my stuff in to set up at 5 am. This time I was going to the street faire as a spectator, instead of a vendor. Parking was in short supply, promising the street would be busy. I locked the car, threw my bag over my shoulder, and was off, cutting through the alley toward Grand and the semi-annual Escondido Street Faire. Although it was October, the day was a warm one and the sun felt good.
Once on the street, it was all abuzz, a sea of people meandering here and there, like all street faires. It was noisy with chattering, laughter, and the squeals of kids as they ran through the crowd with some trinket.
People stopped to look at the wide variety of wares for sale in the booths that lined both sides of the street and the center median. The peaks of tents in all colors spread out as far as the eye could see.
Sometimes I was walking against the flow of the people, as they pushed past with strollers, or pulling tots by the hand. Dogs walked alongside their masters, some with brightly colored bandannas around their necks. Ever now and then, I could hear a yelp and barking, as a skirmish with another dog ensued, passing to close for comfort.
Music blared from several stages, Mexican, rock and roll, blues, and jazz. Some people danced in the street.
Ice cream stands and lemonade vendors set up shop on the corners, along with people selling fruit smoothies, bottled water, and soft drinks.
Adding to the revelry was the sound of vendors shouting over the crowd to sell their wares, or giving demonstrations on some new fancy chopping, dicing appliance. Fair-goers indulged in getting their sneakers cleaned, their bodies massaged, their palms read, or inked up with temporary tattoos. Kids were getting their faces painted, and teens having ribbons woven and braided in their hair.
People tall and short, fat and thin, waited in long lines for lunch from one of the many food vendors. The aroma of grilled onions lifted on the breeze and carried to the end of the block, making me hungry.
The breeze felt delightful. The pavement was hot, as the sun beat down, causing people to look for shade in the vendor’s tents. The booths went on and on, block after block of clothing, gold and silver jewelry, and crafts in wood, glass, and ceramic. There were booths filled with wind chimes and windmills, birdhouses and figurines and quilts. Kids riding llamas were coming down the street and on the side, others doing acrobatics on padded mats laid out on the pavement.
I stopped for a while to listen to a group perform music from the Andes on flutes made of reed and cane. When they stopped for a break, I walked briskly and then meandered among the crowds in the heat of the sunny afternoon, pushing past sweaty people in tank tops and shorts, ever now and then a whiff of perfume or essential oil coming from a booth, or passer by.
I always enjoy being in the frenzy of a street scene, but usually I go alone, if I’m not working it, so I decide my schedule. I can take my time, hurry up, or meet old friends and get the latest news. I like to inspect and admire the work of fellow artists. It never ceases to amaze me at how ingenious some people can be.
I found my old friend, Rena, in her space in the median, her old maroon and white tent overflowing with scrunchies and other hair adornments. We chatted awhile and then I left to find Henry’s booth, a dear old friend who makes and sells his own incense and incense burners, along with essential oils.
Henry invited me in and I welcomed the shade as we sat and laughed for an hour, in between his customers. Naturally, he looked great in one of my handmade tie-dye tee shirts. It surprised him I wasn’t participating in the faire because I always do, but this time Stan was here, and he was selling my product. His tie-dye booth was a few blocks down, and I had already gone by to see how he was doing.
I was tired and sunburned, as I walked back down the alley to my car. I had walked the entire faire twice, which was probably about two miles long. I enjoyed myself so much that I was looking forward to the next one.
I wrote this article because years ago I used to do many street faires, the most being 75 in one year. It was a way of life for me over a number of years when I lived in southern CA. My next post will be about the tie-dye business. Thanks for reading.