North Beach Fair Returns For 65th Year, Rally At City Hall For The Punch Line

The 65th Annual North Beach Fair and #savethepunchline

By Joe Bonadio

June, that most fickle of months, is now upon us. As I write this, the temperature is a muggy 65º in North Beach, but feels, somehow, more like 80º. Yesterday’s skies were clear and sunny, a persistent wind the only sign of June’s ambivalence. And today, those skies are a dour steel grey–but this being June, they are likely to yield to blinding sunshine by the time I finish this.

Some dislike this time of year, but I’ve never been in that camp. I love June in North Beach, its bracing early mornings, its low clouds racing dramatically overhead at noon. This is a time when I look forward to checking out the forecast anywhere on the East Coast, just to feel lucky. For its always contrary nature, for its capricious comings and goings, I have always loved June.

And June is an especially important time for North Beach, being the month of the annual North Beach Fair. This year will be the event’s 65th Anniversary, and though the North Beach Fair is one of San Francisco’s most popular events, most don’t realize it was actually America’s original street fair. It’s also one of the most creative–and this year will be no exception.

Circus Bella, the Bay Area’s premiere family one-ring circus, will be performing at the fair once again, bringing their creative new show Up In The Air  to Vallejo Street on both days of the fair. The troupe features aerialists, acrobats, foot jugglers and clowns, and original music written by local artist Rob Reich and performed by a six-piece band. It’s family entertainment at its most creative, and not to be missed.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg! There will also be the always lively kids’ chalk art area in front of Caffe Trieste, along with the traditional blessing of the animals at St. Francis of Assisi Church across the street. This year we are hosting a Maker Block on Grant Avenue where you’ll be able to watch a variety of artisans ply their crafts (including our very own Tony Gemignani, who’ll be showing us how to make fresh cannoli). And all of these events will be taking place on both Saturday and Sunday, to ensure you won’t miss anything.

The North Beach Fair kicks off on Saturday, June 15th, and runs through the weekend. If there is one event you should be sure to attend, this is it! We’ll see you there!

A specially commissioned Art Collaboration by John Mattos and Jeremy Fish in honor of the 65th Annual North Beach Fair! North Beach Fair is a throwback to the original name: The Grant Ave Fair!

A specially commissioned Art Collaboration by John Mattos and Jeremy Fish in honor of the 65th Annual North Beach Fair! North Beach Fair is a throwback to the original name: The Grant Ave Fair!


The  Punch Line 's home for nearly forty years, 444 Battery Street. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

The Punch Line's home for nearly forty years, 444 Battery Street. | Photo: Joe Bonadio

Meanwhile, if you’ve had your eye on local news, you may have noticed a recent item about local comedy club the Punch Line. Recently faced with eviction from their Battery Street location, the legendary 41-year old comedy venue has received an outpouring of support from across the city. 

In a press appearance on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on May 21st, renowned comics Dave Chapelle and W. Kamau Bell gathered with Supervisor Aaron Peskin, along with members of the SFNBBA Board, to join the chorus. At the event, Peskin announced he had nominated the business for legacy status, and introduced a zoning measure that would maintain the building as an entertainment venue, protecting the club.

Photo Credit  The SF Examiner

Photo Credit The SF Examiner

“Any storied comedian will tell you that the Punch Line is not just an SF phenomenon, it’s an American phenomenon,” said Chapelle, in town to perform at the club. “It’s one of the premium comedy clubs in all the country….We’re losing the culture of the city, and this is one of the things that defines San Francisco.” 

The new landlord in the space was reported to be Google, prompting Supervisor Peskin to implore the tech giant to “Do No Evil. We would like to solve this with honey rather than vinegar.” 

Board President Dan Macchiarini also offered the comedy club the SFNBBA’s full support. “We understand the vital importance of venues like the Punch Line,” he said. “We assured them that if they were driven out, we would work to find them a space in the heart of North Beach.”

And so far, the efforts appear to be paying off. Last week, Google responded with a statement in support of the venerated club: “Google is committed to trying to find a way for the Punch Line to remain a vibrant part of the Bay Area community for years to come.” Peskin’s office has confirmed they are talking with Google about the matter, so hopefully this story is headed for a happy ending!

Photo Credit  The SF Examiner

Photo Credit The SF Examiner