Event Review: A family day at the Encinitas Street Fair


Encinitas Street Fair events included The Lumberyard shopping center as a venue April 24. (Photo by Michele Leivas)

Michele Leivas

n_review_2014_webThe party was in full swing at the Encinitas Street Fair by the time my husband and I got there April 24. And by that, I mean parking was non existent. Fortunately, our 2-year-old and 6-month-old were both napping (read: recharging for future chaos), so we were able to weave up and down the side streets branching off Coast Highway 101 to search for a spot in peace.

We finally found one — halfway up the hill on Third Street, about a half-mile from the fair. After unloading all the equipment and paraphernalia that comes with having two children, we began our descent to B Street. We passed a man walking in the opposite direction, red-faced and winded, as he pushed his toddler up the hill in her Radio Flyer trike. The two men exchanged solemn nods, each likely reminiscing of the days when they could just park and go without towing enough gear to survive for a week in the wilderness.

My husband quickly advised me that he would not be pushing our double-stroller — with both kids strapped in — back up that hill when we left.

Coast Highway 101 was blocked off from D Street to J Street, a double row of white-tented booths stretching the full length of the fair. The streets were filled with people ducking into booths to admire the merchandise showcased by the local vendors; people finding shady spots on the sidewalk to refuel with a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade and a quick bite to eat before continuing on; people strolling down the street, just enjoying the sunshine.

Despite the sheer volume of bodies filling the streets, however, the fair didn’t feel overcrowded and we were able to weave through the crowd with ease.

The first booth at our end of the fair — at the corner of Coast Highway 101 and D Street — was for Friends of the Encinitas Library. Volunteers maintained and replenished their two tables, which were filled with books, greeting visitors and encouraging them to pick up a free book to take home. After careful consideration, I picked up a copy of Brian McGrory’s political thriller “The Incumbent” before we continued on our way.

With more than 450 arts, crafts and food vendors present, there was no shortage of browsing, shopping and eating to do as we continued down the street.

One vendor was Shades for Hope, run by Adam Plax, a junior at University of LaVerne and two of his colleagues. Shades for Hope sold wooden-framed sunglasses with the word “hope” branded on the frames to support the City of Hope, the southern California cancer research and treatment center.

“We’ve all had a family member or friend attacked by cancer who was helped or saved by the City of Hope,” Plax said, explaining the reason behind the product.

What began as a project for a class at school quickly evolved into something more, Plax said, as they created a product that was “very trendy” and “(fitting) for the spring and summer months.”

Shades for Hope sunglasses were selling for $25 to $40, with 100 percent of its proceeds going directly to City of Hope. Plax added even with the competing products and merchandise at the street fair, Shades for Hope had been “fairly successful” throughout the weekend.

We continued along our way, pausing to browse through onesies by Local Ware, a San Diego-based independent distributor of Locally Grown Clothing Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. All Locally Grown merchandise and apparel supports local businesses and it encourages people “to make informed decisions in what they wear, the products they buy and the food they eat,” according to its website. To that end, its merchandise is locally sourced when and wherever possible.

After a couple hours and as many laps around the fair, our kids informed us it was time to head home. Our bellies full, our stroller loaded up with new goodies (and perhaps a Mother’s Day gift or two) and our shoulders more sunburned than tanned, we left the fray of the street fair and headed back down B Street, where my husband mentally prepared himself to face the hill he’d refused to tackle when we got there.

Michele Leivas is a San Diego freelance writer