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New Sonoma County-Style Street Fair at The Barlow in Sebastopol

When The Barlow officially opened last year in Sebastopol, developer Barney Aldrige envisioned periodic street fairs along the avenues lining the 220,000-square-foot culinary and art center in the former Barlow Apple Factory at Sebastopol Avenue and Morris Street.

Wish granted. And in a big way. Running every single Thursday evening from 4 to 8 p.m. through October 30, Aldrige shutting down McKinley St. in the heart of The Barlow, and taking to the streets for a community celebration.

The weekly artisan, food, and music extravaganza is sure to be more than any old street fair. For the complex’s grand opening gala last fall, thousands of guests were treated to performers on stilts, entertainers dressed as dragons, and a massive, fire-breathing Trojan horse with eyes that lit up red and carried a half dozen steam punk artists on its back.

For these ongoing fests, the main attraction will be the stellar line up of musicians taking over the outdoor main stage, rocking the crowds as they stroll booths offering art and retail wares from the 12.5-acre Barlow shops plus stores across Sonoma County. A large array of food booths tempt, too.

“After an overwhelmingly positive response from our grand opening Street Fair event in November, it was clear that this is what the community wants - a place to come, spend time together and have fun,” said Aldrige. “So we made some calls, and invited some of the best food and artisan vendors from the North Bay to join us for a weekly celebration.”

Already, notable performers have signed up, including Onye and The Messengers, an international Afro Jazz Band that plays an eclectic blend of influences ranging from Afro Beat, to Reggae, Funk, Jazz and World Music.

On the art side – consider the kind of talent that inspires a story-high fire-breathing horse, and you’ll know this isn’t everyday work. Steel sculptor David Fowler, for example, turns old shovelheads into gothic pieces suitable for wall hanging.

For edibles, there are colorful rice bowls from The Green Grocer, and also monster turkey legs from Willie Bird’s, alongside fresh juices from Barlow’s own Nectary, and savory and sweet wraps from Barlow’s own Ultra Crepes.

While McKinley St. will be closed for the parties, the Barlow site and its surrounding small streets offer plenty of free parking, Aldrige reminds us. Or, locals are encouraged to ride their bikes, with secure racks placed in front of Community Market grocery, and Taylor Maid Farms coffee shop.

Details: The Barlow, 200 Morris Street, Sebastopol

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