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Aug 6, 2006 08:55 PM

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

          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.

          Oakland Greek festival-was May 19-21, 2006, do a search on this, I reported before:

          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. :-)