Adams Avenue

Adams Avenue Comes Alive For Street Fair That Almost Didn't Happen

Organizers are expecting to suffer a financial loss this year but keeping the show going is an investment in the neighborhood

NBC Universal, Inc.

Thousands of people flooded the Adams Avenue Street Fair in Normal Heights this weekend for its first post-pandemic return, but the popular two-day fest almost didn't happen again this year as a new obstacle stood in its path.

The annual event is a scene in San Diego. Hundreds of arts and crafts, food and retail booths flood the Adams Avenue business district and neighboring streets as dozens of musicians on six different stages bring local grooves to the neighborhood.

But the cost of putting on large events like the Adams Avenue Street Fair has soared. Organizers for this year's event have dealt with price increases on everything from stage equipment to porta potty rentals. But organizers pushed forward, knowing the community needed the show to go on.

“There were some struggles. Logistics, things we were trying to figure out. It came close to not happening," said Julia Sanchez, Assistant Director of the Adams Ave Business Association.

The Adams Ave Street Fair was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year there are fewer vendor booths because of stricter fire safety rules. Fewer booths mean less money.

“Coming out of the pandemic, prices have skyrocketed across the board. We’re paying maybe 60% [more] for a lot of services that we were paying so much less for three years ago,” Sanchez said.

Organizers are expecting to suffer a financial loss this year but keeping the show going is an investment in the neighborhood.

Dozens of artists, including the Donkeys, the Frights, Low Volts, Chess Wars and Okapi Sun, kept the party going at the Adams Avenue Street Fair.

“Something like this, it rejuvenates the neighborhood. It helps the storefronts, the brick-and-mortar businesses,” said Alicia Martinez-Higgs, a San Diego resident and longtime fair attendee.

“People who’ve never come to this area, they’ll come and they’ll see and they’ll come back,” Martinez-Higgs added.

“It lets people get out of the house. Check out different stuff. It’s chill I like it,” said Jose Gudino, an El Cajon resident attending the street fair for the first time.

Organizers were expecting up to 75,000 people at the Adams Avenue Street Fair. Despite the financial issues, the plan is to keep the festival going next year.

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