Castro Street Fair Expected To Draw
Tens of ThousandsThis year’s parade is dedicated to drag performer Cookie Dough.

 

 

 

With the indomitable rainbow flag flying steadfast on a 70-foot flagpole in the center of Harvey Milk Plaza, overlooking an iconic neighborhood with neon signs and small shops selling delicacies as telling as penis-shaped macaroon cookies, there is perhaps no better backdrop than here for a street fair.

 

On Sunday, October 4th at the intersection of Castro and Market streets, extending from 16th and 19th streets, tens of thousands of attendees will corral together to celebrate the Castro community’s diversity and local talents. The 42nd annual Castro Street Fair will include multiple live entertainment and dance stages with hundreds of local artists and organizations lining the streets to contribute to the merriment. According to Fred Lopez, interim executive director for the Castro Street Fair’s Board of Directors, they expect up to 50,000 revelers to attend this year.

 

While it is traditionally a day of festivity and carouse, this year’s fair will carry a heavier significance for the local community.

 

“The Fair this year is dedicated to one of our beloved friends and colleagues, Cookie Dough,” Lopez said. “She was a welcome performer year after year on the stages of the Fair before her untimely passing earlier this year.”

 

Eddie Bell, a prominent San Francisco drag performer known on stage as Cookie Dough, passed away earlier this year from meningitis while touring with the “The Golden Girls” cast in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

 

“Cookie was a brilliant performer and a great leader,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said. “I miss her dearly, as do many members of the community.”

 

In Bell’s honor, attendees are encouraged to “wig out” and come to the Fair in drag. “It should make for a very fun day,” Lopez said.

 

The entertainment will pay tribute to Bell as well. The 18th Street stage will feature performances from members of “The Monster Show,” the Castro’s longest running weekly drag show that Bell founded. Electronic glam-pop duo Ejector will also be reuniting in honor of Bell.

 

Other acts to watch out for include the Whoa Nellies and drag band Muñecas on the Main Stage. The Dance Alley will feature performances from deejays Justime, Mystic Ray and Nark.

 

The fair is free for all attendees, with a suggested donation of $5 to $10 dollars at the entry gates. Proceeds from the gates will go to more than 25 community nonprofit organizations working in and around the Castro neighborhood. Last year, the Fair donated over $74,000 dollars to many organizations, including the Castro Country Club, the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and the Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association.

 

The Fair began in 1974 as the brainchild of gay rights activist and local community leader Harvey Milk. As the business owner of a camera store, Milk started the Castro Street Fair as a means to promote local businesses.

 

“I think that’s what a street fair should be—for the neighborhood, about the neighborhood, by the neighborhood,” Milk said in a video interview filmed during the 1976 Fair.

 

And while the Castro Street Fair today may be much more elaborate and grand in scale than it was over 40 years ago, there is no doubt that the spirit of community is still alive, vibrant and thriving on this annual occasion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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