As an entertainment writer, I track local events as a matter of business. There’s also bit of pride in it, too.
I live for weekends like this – weekends packed with county fairs and music festivals, cultural gatherings and celebrations of small-town (and big city) living.
It would be impossible to catch everything happening this weekend. You will have to choose.
Will it be downtown Fresno or downtown Kerman? Hot air balloons or highland games? Free music or a flashback to the fabulous ’50s?
This is not a bad problem to have.
Love a Local
In two years, Peeve’s Public House has established itself as a hub for downtown Fresno’s music, food and cultural arts scenes.
The Fulton Mall pub/restaurant/coffeehouse celebrates its second anniversary as only it would, with a two-day Love a Local party, Saturday Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20.
This is really a free, mini music festival, with performances from close to 20 local bands including Marble Fork Band, Bobby Joe Neely, Sharks of Dance and the Foo Fighter’s cover band Dave’s Not Here.
That’s day one.
Day two includes Eva Scow’s band The Experience, plus Llama Boy, Cloudship, Light Thieves and more.
Downtown has transformed over the past two years. If you’d like to see just how, this is as good an introduction as you will get.
Fresno Highland Gathering and Games
The Fresno Scottish Society hosts its annual Highland gathering and games, 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, at Kearney Park. The daylong event features Scottish food, music (read: bag pipes) and games, plus historic reenactments and a “Clan Row” where you can discover your Scottish roots.
Genealogy aside, you have to love an event that promises “large men and women throwing heavy stuff.”
Tickets are $10-$15. Children under 10 get in free.
ClovisFest and Hot Air Balloon Fun Fly
ClovisFest is the fall version of the city’s Big Hat Days.
It’s a weekend-long street fair with 200 vendors — food, crafts and the like — spread out along Pollasky Avenue. It also serves as gathering for hot-air balloon enthusiasts, who take to the skies above Clovis each morning.
Sadly, no public rides are available, but you can watch the balloons launch from Clovis Rodeo Grounds. Get there by 7 a.m.
Not to be overlooked in this are the carnival rides, action wrestling (from Lucha Xtreme) and (new this year) a sand castle and robotics competition.
Back to the Fabulous Fifties (and swinging ’60s)
There’s a nostalgic vibe running through the Back To The Fabulous 50s and Swinging 60s fundraiser.
Held at the California Armenian Home (6720 E. Kings Canyon Road), the event is a classic car show with more than 100 cars/trucks on display, plus guest appearances from celebrities like Ronnie Schell (“Gomer Pyle USMC”), Jeanne Russell (“Dennis The Menace”), Richard Herd (“Seinfield”), Dawn Wells (“Gilligan’s Island”) and several of the original Mouseketeers.
Era-appropriate attire is encouraged.
The car show begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19. Tickets $35 in advance.
This week’s stop on the county fair circuit is Tulare.
The Tulare County Fair runs through Sunday, Sept. 20, and offers all the traditional county fair competitions, plus ag displays, carnival rides and entertainment.
The classic rock band Foghat plays Friday, Sept. 18; R&B singer Rose Royce performs Saturday, Sept. 19; and country star Marty Stuart takes the stage Sunday, Sept. 20.
All shows are free with fair admission.
Also included in the fun is a monster truck rally and demolition derby. You will want to bring ear protection.
Admission is $8 or $5 for children 6 to 12.
Kerman Harvest Festival
Kerman’s Harvest Festival, which also runs through Sunday, Sept. 20, is a “hillbilly hoedown.”
Or, that’s the theme of the 71st Annual Kerman Harvest Parade, anyway. The parade starts 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, and runs through downtown. Throughout the weekend there will be music (from Wild Hare and Danny Millsap) a homemade salsa competition and carnival rides and games.
It’s your chance to enjoy a snapshot of small-town Valley life.
Fresno Punk Fest
For a snapshot of the Valley’s punk-rock scene, there’s the Fresno Punk Fest. More than a dozen bands play Full Circle Brewing Company (620 F. St.). Door open at 4 p.m. and tickets are $20-$25. Included in the lineup are Tom and Boot Boys from Japan; Eel from Pittsburg and Fresno’s Mutant Itch.
For fans of: Moshing to bands with names like Pogo Vomit and Pig DNA.