If you missed the 13th annual Excelsior Arts and Music Festival in mid August, you missed perhaps the most popular version of the event yet.
“Besides people telling me how hot it was, mostly I heard people saying how good the music was this year,” District 11 Supervisor John Avalos said. “There was a big crowd of people with lots of smiling faces, the music was awesome, and I loved how we combined with art walk events.”
Sunday Streets, a citywide initiative to get cars off the road and people into the public streets, has no doubt been a big draw over the years. Prior to Sunday Streets’ involvement, the festival had been confined to the two blocks of Ocean and Persia avenues directly west of Mission Street.
Now that it has spilled out onto the main road through the neighborhood, it has seemingly grown larger every year. There did seem to be more activities this year than in years past. Mission Science Workshop led an activity where kids made giant bubbles and sidewalk chalk was freely distributed near the main stage.
“We really focused on making the whole Sunday Streets more vibrant, and not just around the Ocean Avenue area where the main stage was,” said Stephanie Cajina, the Excelsior Action Group’s executive director. “It was good, and I feel like we got more of the Mission Street merchants involved this year. Thank you to all who came out, and also to our sponsors.”
While the main stage at the corner of Mission Street and Ocean Avenue provided the main musical attractions, two blocks down were the ever popular Adelante at Mama Art Cafe, and the house band from Kadok’s House of Mamisiopa.
Even further down the street was a DJ booth held down by Prodigy SF Entertainment, and even though they were spinning hip hop and R&B jams, they seemed to be a bit too far from the middle of the event to attract much of a crowd. It didn’t phase the Prodigy SF team, Gerald Kirwan, CEO, Johnson Wong, co-CEO and co-CEO Paolo Acosta, an Excelsior native.
“I think it was the biggest Sunday Streets in the neighborhood yet,” Acosta said. “We didn’t care where we were positioned. Tons of people were stopping by and asking us questions, so we met our goals in being there.” Acosta got his booth through Sunday Streets, but plans to work with the Excelsior Festival organizers next year.
“We do concerts and festivals, sound stages and lighting,” Acosta said. “But we also want people to know there’s still youth out there that’s doing stuff that’s not like the stereotypes about how young people are.”
As for the art part of the festival, Youth Arts Exchange helped organize an art walk featuring cultural performances from traditional Chinese and Armenian dancers, for example. The group was also responsible for erecting giant table where kids could go crazy with a huge stash of Lego blocks, and a Lego sculpture of the neighborhood’s famous blue water tower.
Some area restaurants teamed up to give out “passports” that, when stamped at each of the participating establishments, could then be redeemed for entry into a raffle for Giants tickets.