Summer Guide 2014

Food Festival Mayhem

Grateful Dead | Food Festivals | Movies | SubZERO Festival | Stage | Art | Music

Jupiter AscendingSiracha Festival

Every human—even the bird-eaters among us—enjoys masticating organic matter of a higher order. Or, to put it in more basic terms, we all love to stuff our faces with delicious food. But in order to carry out this time-honored tradition, we must patronize not only our favorite taquerias and ramen joints—we must also flock to summer food festivals around the South Bay, from the venerable Gilroy Garlic Festival to the young upstart Electronic Sriracha Festival. Last year, the fire sauce festival memorably forced the nation pay homage to our ingenuity for at least 30 seconds.

The summer's best begins with a double header for Memorial Day Weekend: the inaugural Fremont Burger & Brew Fest, and the fourth annual San Jose Taco Festival of Innovation. The adventurous festival-goer might take a gamble and head to "downtown"—or, more accurately, "somewhere in the middle of"—Fremont to see how the first-ever Burger & Brew Fest turns out on Saturday May 23. Breweries sponsoring the event include San Francisco's Speakeasy, Mendocino Brewing Company, Firestone Walker and Sierra Nevada, among others. Several burger and slider slinging food trucks will also be on hand. Admission is free.

San Jose's popular Taco Fest returns May 23-24 with a theme of freestyle tacos and freestyle music—that's the "innovation" element. This is the first of three summer festivals hosted by local food truck and event company, Moveable Feast. The lucha libre wrestlers and Air Accordian Championship events will be back, as well as other live music acts, plus all sorts of creative taco dishes under six bucks. Tickets are $10.

The very next weekend (May 29-31), the 44th annual San Jose Greek Festival is coming to the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church for three days of gyros, loukaniko and lamb chops. The Mythos Band will set the rhythm for some traditional Greek folk dancing. No need to sweat ignorance of the dance moves; there are free lessons for the uninitiated. Admission is free.

No less an authority than the Kansas City Barbeque Society has sanctioned the Silicon Valley Barbeque Championships as the second-largest BBQ championship on the West Coast. From June 26-27, 16 pro BBQ teams will baste their way to top honors in Santa Clara's Central Park. The event is judged by KCBS officials, but who cares about that?! The unofficial competition is for the "Dear Lord How Much Pulled Pork Can One Man Eat" award. Admission is free.

Details are still sketchy on the third iteration of Moveable Feast's Bacon Festival of America (one festival at a time, people), but so far it seems that the festival will return to downtown San Jose for the Fourth of July weekend, along with another fireworks show courtesy of the Rotary Club.

At the end of July (24-26) Gilroy puts on its 37th Garlic Festival. The event will include the usual you-name-it, they've-put-garlic-in-it line-up of food vendors. Plus blues, rock and country music acts all day. Admission is $10 for kids, aged 6-12, and seniors $20 for everyone else. Kids under 6 are free.

Then we're into August and it's what every little boy and girl waits for all year: National Zucchini Day! Hayward celebrates with its 33rd annual Zucchini Festival on Aug. 15-16, with a zucchini growing contest and all the zucchini-based foods a squash enthusiast could ask for. Kids are free. General admission is $4-$8.

August 29 and 30 sees Italian Family Festa take over the Guadalupe River Park right near the newly sanctioned Little Italy. Details are sparse as it's still a ways away, but aficionados already know the basics: wine and lots of gesturing!

There may have never been a more polarizing combination of incongruous commodities than the Electronic Sriracha Festival. Hot sauce: it's spicy, it's delicious, maybe people get a bit too into it! Dance music: it's loud, it's sweaty, maybe people get a little too into it! The blogosphere took sides last year over the first-ever Electronic Sriracha Festival. Asshats over at Vice claimed that "A Sriracha Rave Is My Version of Hell." Other, perhaps over-eager headlines proclaimed it "the best festival idea ever." Now it's returning for another year on Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 5-7), repositioning itself as food-first, music secondary. Tickets prices will drop to $10 from last year's $25. Other details are TBA.

Grateful Dead | Food Festivals | Movies | SubZERO Festival | Stage | Art | Music