East County Nightlife: Fairs Are for Suckers

Your Patch guide to East County nightlife, June 9-12.

Last year, the main attraction at the (yes, some of us REFUSE to call it by its fancy new name) was deep-fried butter—apparently the pinnacle of instant heart-attack foods, because this year the most publicized fair delight is the relatively benign deep-fried . 

If you really have a burning desire to find out just how they get that sugary, wholly-unnatural kid’s drink into batter, then by all means, brave the traffic nightmare that is the I-5 in June, park a mile away, then stand in a snaking line in the heat of the sun, pay out the nose for food and rides, and take some of that lovely livestock stink home with you when you finally drag your aching feet back to your car.

Or, you could just stay in East County, where there will be live bands (just like the fair), art displays (just like the fair) and educational forums (just like the fair).  The only thing East County doesn’t have is deep-fried Kool-Aid and its stomach-churning brethren—but it does have delicious, .

Choose for yourself, but remember: the fair will be there next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and who knows—it might undergo a few other name changes along the way.


Where/when: , 8278 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, 3 to 5 p.m. Friday.

Why Go: Hot coffee and cool jazz—it’s a combo that’s remained popular from the 1950s to the 1990s to the 2010s.  The Sam Johnson Jazz Duo performs regularly at Cosmo’s, so if you miss them this time around, they’ll be back to entertain the beatnik within at a later date.

Price:  Free.


Where/when: West Main Street and North Magnolia Avenue, El Cajon, 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Why Go: The 2009 movie The Princess and the Frog might not have lived up to Disney’s financial expectations, but it was chock-full of amazing music, introducing a new generation to the diversity of Louisiana’s indigenous music, including zydeco.  Check out this toe-tapping, hand-slapping genre at El Cajon’s series this Friday.

Price: Free.


Where/when: , 8036 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Why Go: Shamanism has a long history in the U.S., dating back long before the Western world “discovered” North America.  If you’ve ever wanted to get a detailed introduction to this brand of spirituality, check out the discussion led by Katie Weatherup this Friday.

Price: Free.


Where/when: Don’s Cocktail Lounge, 13321 Business Highway 8, El Cajon, 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Why Go: It’s one thing to listen to classic rock on the radio—it’s quite another to hear it blaring out of giant speakers while surrounded by lights and fog and a crowd of hooting and hollering fans.  If you close your eyes, you might even be able to imagine Stone Wolf is actually the band they’re covering.

Price: No cover.

Where/when: , 1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, 7 p.m. Friday.

Why Go:  No telescope?  No problem!  The San Diego Astronomy Association, which hosts a stargazing event once a month, will provide telescopes to allow you to bring the heavens a little closer to Earth.  This is a great date opportunity, especially for outdoorsy types.

Price: Free.



Where/when: Viejas Dreamcatcher Lounge, 5000 Willows Rd., Alpine, 8 p.m. Saturday.

Why Go: Crimp your hair, squeeze into some spandex bike shorts, throw on your brightest neon, and step back into the 1980s during a performance by Morris Day & The Time, protégés of Prince and producers of such popular radio hits as “Get It Up,” “Cool,” and “Girl.”

Price: $31 standing room, $36 reserved balcony, $41 VIP reserved.


Where/when:  , 9566 Murray Dr., La Mesa, 9 p.m. Saturday.

Why Go:  You don’t know the meaning of “diversity” until you’ve spent an evening at the Charcoal House—the crowd features a wide range of ages (from cub to cougar and beyond) and races (it’s a veritable flesh rainbow), plus a fun mix of styles and sensibilities. The karaoke starts to blend with dance numbers after a couple of hours, so get your power ballad request in asap. Come at least once—you won’t be disappointed.

Price: No cover.


Where/when: , 7662 Broadway, Lemon Grove, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday.

Why Go: Unlike most cover bands playing the East County scene, Ramshackle eschews classic/top 40 rock in favor of more contemporary rock and alternative—which means that you might be able to hear a live version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” after all.

Price: No cover.

Where/when: , 9608 Carlton Hills Blvd., Santee, 6 p.m. Saturday.

Why Go: You don’t have to be a student at West Hills High School or related to one to enjoy the amazing works of art on display—undoubtedly, the talent of many of the young artists will astound you.

Price: Free.


Where/when: , 9550 Milden St., La Mesa, 6 p.m. Sunday.

Why Go: Come celebrate the 10th season of Harry Griffen Park’s summer concert series, held in the beloved amphitheatre that has seen many weddings, anniversaries, and kids running themselves to exhaustion up and down the stone steps. San Diego’s own Navy Jazz Band Southwest will open the series.

Price: Free.

Charles July 01, 2011 at 09:15 AM
I had not been to the Fair in over 12 years and this year I purchased the Fair Packaged deal at Costco. It was $52 and included Free Parking, 4 Adult Admission, 4 Free Drinks and 20 ride tickets. We went last Friday, 6/24/11, realizing it would be packed. We arrived at the Fair Parking around 3:30 p.m. & found parking within a couple of minutes, close to the entrance. There was a pretty good size crowd but you could easily move around and there were no lines for food or rides. Yes, they still have Deep Fried Anything you could think of. The food prices were average for that type of venue and actually cheaper then Petco or Stadium food and drinks. We walked around and really enjoyed our self and left at 10:45 p.m. We were out of the Parking lot and on the freeway within 15 minutes from getting in our car. The Parking was very well organized. I look forward to returning to the Fair next year.
Christine Huard July 01, 2011 at 04:15 PM
What fun! I love seeing the baby animals, and all the neat stuff people have entered into the competitions. And I love that roast corn on the cob! So good.


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