When I stepped off the MTS bus at the entrance to the 42nd annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-off – what, me drive when there’s a beer garden!? – to experience this event for the first time, I had a very familiar feeling.
There were vendor and food pop-up tents on both sides of Cable Street and also Newport Ave. But since I am not much of a shopper, it was readily apparent that I was going to scrap my plan of walking around to check out the scene and head straight to the beer garden. A friend reported the chili was all gone by the time I arrived at mid-afternoon and that only sealed the deal.
Plus, that’s where the biggest stage of live music was located as well as the beer (plus margaritas and vodka drinks) and no doubt for PubClubbers such as myself, the most lively crowd. And that indeed proved to be the case.
The familiarity in the feeling came because I have had it many times before at street festivals, including at Fiesta Hermosa, the Memorial Day and Labor Day street festival up the California coast a couple of hours (or three or more, depending on LA traffic). Except there, I knew most of the bands. Here, I’m too much of a San Diego squid to know my Electric Waste Band from my Groovesession.
@pubclub.com The Hang Zeros Surf Band plays in ol@Ocean Beach, San Diego! #oceanbeach #oceanbeachsandiego #pubclub #pubclubbing #surfbands #surfband ♬ original sound – PubClub
My favorite band, by the way, was Hang Zeros which was not only not among the listed bands but was not even on one of the official stages. Instead, this tiki/surf band pulled up in an old SUV and set up in the Hodad’s parking lot. I mean we were at the beach after all, right?
The beer garden was large enough to easily accommodate everyone and being in the parking lot in front of South Beach restaurant, it’s right up against the beach with a full view of the waves, surfers and OB Pier. It was a perfect location and the atmosphere was ideal on this early-summer afternoon the last Saturday of June. The sun was out, there was no June Gloom and a nice, constant breeze from the ocean provided nature’s fan to keep things cool.
My friend Alan and I walked around the beer garden and also took a few chill out moments in the Elysian bar, a temporary structure that had a few seats in the shade. Another prime location was the upstairs patio of South Beach, which overlooked the beer garden, bands and the beach.
It was pretty mellow as far as beer gardens go – fun but hardly as wild as another LA Beach Cities event, Hometown Fair each October in Manhattan Beach.
As far as the food goes, some of it looked really good but I had ate before I got there and most of the vendors were typical of any street fair.
So, to answer two festival questions critical to Publcubbers:
1.) Is there ever a line at the beer garden and what time to you have to get there? Unlike Fiesta Hermosa, there was never a line to get into the beer garden so get there when you want to get there. The event is also free, as was Fiesta Hermosa for years until last year when the chamber started charging $10 for it.
2.) How much are the drinks? Ten bucks for both the beers (half a dozen options) and the drinks. It is also very important to note that the bands end at 8 and last call is 7:30. The good thing is you don’t need to buy tickets; just walk up and get your drinks.
Overall, I say whenever it’s time for the OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-off “do it!
Here is the link to the official OB Fair & Chili Cook-off: OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off