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Church/ethnic fairs

What interesting (food-wise) church/ethnic fairs do you recommend? I'd love to make a compiled list (if one doesn't exist already) of interesting fairs, approximately when they happen (e.g., first weekend in June), a link (if it exists) to the sponsoring organization, and recommendations of what's particularly good there. I've almost always enjoy the ones I stumble across, but I know there are many more I never hear about. I just read the post about the Indonesian-Dutch Bazaar -- must catch that one next year!


More suggestions?

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  1. There's a great fair at the Armenian school on Brotherhood Way in SF. This year's is Sept. 15-17.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      St. John's Armenian Apostolic Church on Olympic Way also has one of these yearly, although I can't seem to find a link for this year's at the moment.

        1. re: Cynsa

          Looks like they might hold the 64th annual festival at around the same time as the Serbian Orthodox church holds theres. That could be a belt loosening weekend indeed!

    2. San Francisco Aloha Festival at the Presidio Parade Grounds
      August 5-6, 2006

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cynsa

        i went on saturday. malasadas from the hawaiian arts booth were fine, but not great (not leonard's, basically). but it was so exciting to have shave ice, even if it was $5. mmmm!

        general plate lunch-type items like katsu curry and lau lau were also available.

        lots of booths selling various goods, including some jarred lilikoi butter that i picked up.

        1. re: artemis

          I'm still sucking on seeds...Li Hing Mui "Akamai Snacks. Yum.
          btw the lau lau was good.

      2. St John the Baptist Church in El Cerrito has over 60 different nationalities attending. They do lots of celebrations. I attended a Brazilian Junio festival in ... well, June. There was the Nigerian Yam festival in the fall. They have services for a Filipino sunrise festival prior to Easter. St Patricks in Rodeo also has that celebration.

        The Catholic church on Church lane in San Pablo has the most AMAZING pre-christmas celebration, I forget the name .. but it is almost pagan ... there are people in aztec dress, drums beating ... just blew my mind. Nice food later by the ladies of the church.

        The Portuguese have their festas about 40 days after Easer. The biggest is in Monterey, but San Jose also has a big one and I've heard the one in Mountain View is pretty cool too.

        I got to sample lots of different food at all of these festivals. St John the Baptist is the one to keep an eye on, though. In the fall they have a big blowout that I missed last year where all nationalities get together contributing dishes from each specific culture.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          St John's sounds intriguing, but they're not admitting to having any festivals, at least not anywhere on their website that I can find. See if you have any better luck! (I'm not doubting you, just faulting their website.)


        2. obon festival in Palo Alto was this weekend Aug 5-6, 2006.

          SJ Obon/Bazaar: (every year in mid July) Japantown's largest festival with two days of game booths, food booths, cultural exhibits and demonstrations, the Chidori Band, San Jose Taiko and over 500 dancers in full costume each evening. A San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin event. Contact (408) 293-9292 or visit the website at www.sjbetsuin.com

          Mountain View: July 16-17, Buddhist Temple, 575 N. Shoreline Blvd. Bazaar: 4-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Dancing: 7 p.m. Sunday. (650) 964-9426.

          Union City obon festival-date I can't find, but I went before. http://www.geocities.com/sacbcnet/

          Oakland Greek festival-was May 19-21, 2006, do a search on this, I reported before: http://www.ascensioncathedral.org/

          Hayward Greek Festival-
          Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church
          Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward, CA, (510) 581-8950
          Friday, 10/6/2006, Time: 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM
          Saturday, 10/7/2006, Time: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
          Sunday, 10/8/2006, Time: Noon to 7:00 PM

          San Jose Greek Festival-over for 2006; was June 2-4, 2006

          Thai Temples in Fremont, Berkeley, San Bruno-do a search on this board!! Lots of posts on all three.

          5 Replies
          1. re: hhc

            The Obon Odori (Japanese dancing) at San Mateo Buddhist Temple posted above is on Saturday, Aug. 11 this year - not on the 14th which is a Monday.

            1. re: hhc

              Do all of these have interesting food? I'm guessing the one you marked 'Dancing only' might not. I really want to concentrate on listing festivals where Chowhounds have particular food recommendations.

              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                The Berkeley Thai temple's food is great. Every Sunday 9-2, 1911 Russell St.


                Ascension Cathedral has some good food.


                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                  I went to San Mateo bon odori a few years ago, and they only have dancing, no food. For food, you would want to try to hit the bazaar mentioned below. A lot of the other temples do have food available at bon odori, as well as bazaars during the summer, so you might want to check them out next year (since the season is almost over).

                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                    Obon food is like a Japanese family picnic. In decreasing order of appeal to me: grilled BBQ eel over rice (the eel probably was frozen and imported from Japan), corn on the cob, grilled beef kushiyaki (small pieces of meat on a stick with a teriyaki like sauce), grilled chicken teriyaki, and mochi/manju confections. Feel free to skip the little polystyrene trays of simple, mass-produced, rapidly-drying-out nigiri, maki, and inari sushi. Some obon also have noodles, if there is a sit-down area.

                2. The Serbian Orthodox Church in Moraga has a festival every year in October -- I've never been because it conflicts with my annual October trip, but my parents went one year and enjoyed it (my Mom finally got her cevapcici fix, after 30 years!).

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Do you have a pointer for the festival, Ruth? The website for the church doesn't make mention of it, but it also doesn't seem to get updated that quickly either.

                    1. re: Peter Yee

                      Here are a couple of past mentions, courtesy of our newly improved search engine:

                      The announcement of last year's festival:


                      My Mom's report on the 2003 festival:


                      It appears that it's usually the third Saturday in October, as the two known dates have been 10/15/05 and the Saturday after my 10/13/03 posting.

                      My search also turned up a report on a food festival held by a Serbian Orthodox Church in San Francisco, which is presumably also an annual event:


                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Thanks, Ruth. I'm going to have to see what I can find out before October rolls around. Nobody answered the phone when I called just now, but I'll keep searching for an answer.

                        1. re: Peter Yee

                          In past years the info has been on their website, so presumably they just haven't gotten around to it yet.

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      I'd appreciate info on it as well.

                      Hope they also have budic. And "mixed meat platter."

                      Of course, Rakiya. That could be dangerous. :-)

                    3. Portugal Day celebration in San Jose every year, sometime in the second week of June. (Dia de Portugal is June 10 in Portugal.) They have food booths with Portuguese comfort foods -- grilled sardines (mmmm! big ones, not like the little ones in a sardine tin), grilled meats and stews, Portuguese deserts & breads, etc. This year there was a booth with food from Macau, too. And the parade and folkdancing are fun.

                      1. San Mateo Buddhist Temple Bazaar, held the last weekend in June, has really good food - yaki soba, tempura, chicken box lunches (other box lunch sales are in March and Sept), sushi, oysters, kuri manju, Imayagawaki, udon as well as hot dogs and hamburgers.

                        1. Glendi, put on by the Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa, is September 16 and 17 this year; they have Eritrean food as well as lots of Russian, Balkan, Middle Eastern, and Greek. Check out http://www.glendi.net/main.html. The Eritrean pancake/bread was something I'd never seen before. They dance, too!

                          1. There used to be a list maintained on the California Academy of Sciences website (by the dormant Traditional Arts Program, I believe), but since they re-organized the site and TAP went on hiatus, it seems to have gone AWOL. TAP had a comprehensive listing for festivals throughout the Bay Area, so we can only hope they pick it up again in 2008 when the Academy re-opens in Golden Gate Park.

                            1. Also, the annual teriyaki feast at the Enmanji Buddhist Temple in Sebastopol; http://www.sonic.net/~enmanji/

                              1. The Russian Center on Sutter in SF has a Russian Festival in February - I've never been to it though.

                                1. The Greek Festival at the Annuciation Cathedral in the Mission District of San Francisco, 245 Valencia, is always a delight. We have gone for the past 4 years or so. This year's is Sept 29-Oct 1. We find Friday night the most lively. Food is great, different kind of spit roasted lamb and other appetizers like fried cheese one year. The gyros are wonderful as are the sausage sandwiches when they have them. We always get several boxes of food to take home with us. Can't beat the home cooking. : )

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: vespaloon

                                    Here's the chowdown report from 2 years ago that recommends skipping the buffet line, and where to find tastier treats.

                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                      I went this year. I generally agree with you, although my impression this year was more favorable than yours two years ago. I rather enjoyed the pastitso and moussaka, which had a great cheese layer. The meats... well, they weren't terribly interesting. The souvlakia was a bit dry, and the lamb was rather dull (and skimpy!!!). Considering the serving conditions, this was understandable, but the lamb cost $14, and you can get some pretty nice entrees in SF for that much money -- and without waiting up to an hour in a buffet line. The prices were reasonable (except for the lamb)... except that doesn't include the five dollar cover charge. Meh.

                                      If there existed a local Greek diner that served that food at those prices (without charging a cover), I'd probably be a regular, but there's no compelling reason to go to this festival, unless you happen to be in the area or something. Better off just visiting your favorite estiatorio.

                                  2. Yes, completely agree. I have only been to the buffet line once - likely the first year we went - we usually eat at all the grilled stands outside and then do the take out just inside the door to the gymnasium. I can't wait for this year's festival!

                                    1. Story Road Tamale Festival in San Jose



                                      December 12th - Guadalupe Festival
                                      St. Paul Church
                                      1845 Church Lane
                                      San Pablo, CA


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Cynsa

                                        Well, to follow up on that

                                        Aztec warriors, spicy hot chocolate & bunuelos - Guadalupe Day, the beat goes on

                                        Richmond - Big Brazilian festival - Festa Junina today 6/10
                                        (with info about other celebrations of this festival

                                        El Cerrito - Nigerian Yam Festival

                                        Hercules - Simbang Gabi - Philipino Christmas Breakfast 12/16-12/24

                                        The public is welcome to any of these events just like the Budist or other types of festivals. Not all are announced on websites, usually because of limited staff to update the websites.

                                      2. Thanks, everyone, these are great! I'm working on putting together a list.

                                        1. One more:

                                          There's a soul food festival in the Bayview/Hunter's Point in San Francisco every year, sometime in the spring. It doesn't seem to get much publicity (I think it's sponsored by one of the radio stations with a predominently "black" audience, but I don't think it gets much mainstream press), and web searches turn up nothing. The only place I ever hear about it is on the day-of, when Gene Burns Dining Around on KGO does a remote from there. I think it's affiliated with a Community Center, but I can't seem to find that, either. Maybe I'm just not hitting the right search terms.

                                          As far as I know it's never been reported on here, although one year I did post a "heads-up" (again, it was day-of, and too late for anyone to get out there).

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            There used to be some sort of festivity with food at an Oakland church on San Pablo at the foot of Alcatraz. I went there once and had red beans and rice and peach cobbler.

                                          2. According to the Fremont Thai Temple website they will be celebrating the Queen's birthday this Sunday...


                                            Does anyone happen to have more info on this event? I tried the phone number but no one answered. I love doing the Sunday Thai Temple thing and this sounds like the perfect opportunity to check out Fremont but Berkeley's so much closer, it would be great to know if it's worth the drive. Thanks.

                                            1. I totally think the Fremont thai temple is awesome. I haven't been in a long time but love it.

                                              here is my old post w/ pictures: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...