Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Festival Season Has Begun!

Of course, festivals go on all year long, but here in Los Angeles summer is when they really get going. I try to make it a point to get to as many of the free ones as I can. Early summer is Obon time. They happen all over the city, throughout the region, all up and down the state. They started this past weekend. I was there.

But before that, on Memorial Day Weekend there was the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival. This was the 28th year for this festival, yet it was my first time attending. One reason is that it is not free. A hefty $30.00 entrance fee. Then there is the not at all inexpensive food. That said, it is a fun festival. It was worth the drive, worth the $$$.

Balloons at the entrance, taking away any excuse for not being in
a festive mood.

There is plenty to do at the festival, but it is always a good idea to
scope out the food section first. The food section should always be
your fallback location. That is my advice. Crayfish were plentiful.
The brown medallions are deep-fried dill pickle slices.                  

This is the mascot of the crayfish vendor. His name is Oliver. He
was friendly.                                                                                 

Plenty of sausages offered by several vendors.

This is the only vendor that had what I was looking for -
alligator. Had there been no alligator to eat, I would have been 
very disappointed.

These brothers were selling their pies and cobblers. The ice cream was
free, if you wanted it. Though it was hot, I didn't see any reason to mess
up good cobbler with ice cream. Yes, the cobbler was good.

I asked the chef to demonstrate the proper method of eating crayfish.
1. Pinch the head from the tail.                                                              

2. Suck out the juice and soft material from the head section.   

3. Pinch the bottom of the tail, work your way up, then bite the 
succulent meat. The order-taker looks on with rapt interest. Surely
she has watched this demonstration hundreds of times. Not to 
mention probably having eaten pounds and pounds of crayfish.

If you wanted to play with your lunch, you could.

Alligator on a stick. It is a fairly mild-flavored meat.

My repast - alligator on a stick and tons of crayfish.

I find festivals are more fun if I dress thematically.

I ate them all.

Happy people line dancing.

Lots of hot sauce and ketchup. (Or maybe catsup.)

On of two stages. All the music I heard was good.

There has to be a parade at any activity having to do with New Orleans.
This is the tuba section of the Simi Valley High School marching band.
These guys are still young enough to have fun carrying a sousaphone.  

The band had a very tall majorette. 

On Monday of Memorial Day weekend I went to a backyard BBQ put on by the family of a trumpet player that I work with. It is always a good hang. This is a shot of my chili burger and Rice Crispy Treat. These two items are essential BBQ fare. There is also a mock rumaki on the plate.

You can tell that I like  Mayonnaise, not one of the Mother Sauces.

This past Sunday I attended my first Obon of the season at the Sun Valley - Valley Japanese Community Center. It is the first time I have attended this particular Obon. It is a fairly small one. It is a fun one. They are all fun in their particular ways. None of the vendors offered chili rice, but I forgive them for that. They did have hot dogs and that is almost as good. I will have to watch the calendar closely to make sure I don't miss some of my favorite Obons. Naturally, I want to attend as many new ones as I can also. I see tons of familiar faces at these events. Many, many people make the circuit, as I do. For an up to date listing of Obon festivals, check out http://www.japanes-city.com.

This center was established in 1952. Longer ago than I've been alive.
I've been alive for a long time.                                                             

I was there from the opening minutes, so lines had not formed at
the food booths yet.                                                                       

If you wanted something sweet...

they had sweets for you.

I went for the savory - Teriyaki Chicken. The chicken breasts were huge. 

The dancing begins.

A great was had by everyone.

A dance company performance.

No Southern California Obon is complete without a taiko performance.

Pasadena, the "hip" city just down the street from me has a Chalk Festival. Artist create hugh pieces on the sidewalk in chalk. This festival has been happening for 25 years. It has almost been that long since I've gone to it. The work is impressive. The most amazing thing to me is that people can stay on their knees long enough to create these pieces. I'd be hospitalized after about an hour. There is also an auto show as part of the festival. They are mostly classic cars, beautifully restored.  

A 3D illusion.  You had to stand in a particular spot and use your
camera or phone cam to view the image for the 3D effect.            

This is the same image from the "wrong" spot, a typical 2D image.

Probably the oldest of the vehicles at the car show portion of the festival.

A fantasia on the Paddy Wagon. The origin of the term "Paddy Wagon
has several theories as to its origin. None of them are pretty. "Paddy" is
a derogatory term for the Irish. You can use your imagination as to why
that term would be applied to a police transport vehicle.                         

A classic Southern California ride. Lowriders live on!

Beach culture.
On the way home from the chalk festival was a little unorthodox. As a result I drove by the Saint Andrew's Catholic Church. Low and behold, they were a walk-around. I had to jump out and get some shots. It is not something that you see everyday. It was pretty exciting. I went inside and sat through the rest of the Mass. I knew from having attended a Requiem Mass years ago that this is a beautiful church. It was good to revisit it. I make it a point when I visit other cities to enter Catholic churches, if I can. The artwork can be very striking. The murals at Saint Andrew's are famous. The marble pillars are like a kaleidoscope.

Pasadena's Saint Andrew Roman Catholic Church. 

The Mass procession. 

Check out those pillars!

Next week - more Obons! And hopefully "The Light/La Luz." 

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