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Rock Out at Santa Monica Festival  

Ann K. Williams
Lookout Staff

May 5, 2011 -- Saturday will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Santa Monica Festival at Clover Park, and it looks like this year's celebration is going to kick out the jams.

Revelers can expect high-energy, eclectic music and dance (be prepared to get in on the act), a ceremony recognizing the city's community heroes, wildly imaginative DIY art projects, and let's not forget the food – you might want to skip eating for a day or two before the festivities.

“The festival embodies both the pulsating energy and compassion that the City of Santa Monica has always emitted, but with a new twist,” said Katie Bergin, executive director of Community Arts Resources, the festival's producer.

Presented by the city's Cultural Affairs Division and the Office of Sustainability and the Environment, the festival combines the westside community's unique cultural vision with the progressive environmental values that make Santa Monica a leader in sustainable action worldwide.

The party kicks off with a performance by Ozokids, the “kid-friendly incarnation of [local band] Ozomatli,” before launching into the Community Heroes Awards which honor six “ordinary people, people who are our neighbors, who quietly work each day to make our city a better place to live and work,” as event producers describe them.

And the winners will be:

  • Lori Nafshun, a founding member of the Ocean Park Association, who organized the grassroots 4th of July Main Street Parade;
  • Paula Biren, longtime Chrysalis volunteer, who oversees the resource room, making sure clients have appropriate clothing to go on job interviews or to work;
  • Matthew Torrington, medical director of Common Ground, an organization dedicated to reducing the impact of HIV, hepatitis and drug addiction in our community;
  • Betsy Hiteshew, early childhood educator and advocate who, along with a lifetime of accomplishments, founded Connections for Children;
  • Siobhan Dolan, “high-energy” Heal the Bay volunteer who leads Clean Up Day sites and advocates for the environmental group; and
  • Sita Martyn, one of the first people clients – many of whom are low-income and uninsured – interact with at the Westside Family Health Center.

After that it's just one big bash.

A few of the musical features include The Americans, a rock/roots band, AK & Her Kalashnikovs who blend Spanish, Greek, Russian, Serbian and “Roma soul,” and the Superhumanoids who promise to “kiss the doldrums away.”

Dance Attack See will give those who've heard about flash mobs a chance to actually be in one. Choreographer Ryan Heffington and the Sweat Spot Dancers will teach their moves so that anyone who wants to can kick up their heels at the final afternoon performance.

If dancing's not your thing, but you still want to work off all those calories – yes, there will be a lot of food – you can choose from karate, boxing and bellydancing instruction. And the kids can get in on the action with yoga for children.

Arts and crafts enthusiasts will get to learn the intricacies of Japanese bookbinding, try out Spin-Pop, an “interactive, wheelchair powered painting technique” – finding out what that means is reason alone to show up at the festival – and create flowers out of plastic bags.

There'll be a Bike Center, complete with do-it-yourself bike repair and safe cycling advice, and a host of local non-profits and governmental organizations will be on hand to let you know what's happening in Santa Monica's arts and environmental scene.

Now, the food.

Food trucks will be allowed – in this case from:

  • Border Grill, serving Top Chef Mary Sue Milliken's signature modern Mexican fare;
  • Coolhaus with its “architecturally inspired ice cream sandwiches;”
  • Crepe'n Around offering sweet and savory crepes;
  • Gastrobus featuring fresh organic dishes;
  • India Jones serving up Indian snacks;
  • Let's Be Frank featuring “100% local, grass-fed beef haute dogs;”
  • Sweets Truck which advertises “LA's best baked goods and espresso;” and
  • Yalla, with “traditional falafel sandwiches with nontraditional ingredients.”

And if that weren't enough, Laura Avery of the Santa Monica Farmer's Market is pairing world-famous local chefs with southland farmers to present high-end cooking demonstrations.

Josie LeBalch of Josie's and Gloria Tamai (“Gloria” to her farmer's market fans), Walter El Magar of Locanda del Lago and Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farm, and Clemence Gosset of the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories will be on hand to share tips that you can use to transform your kitchen into a gourmet zone.

With all that, there'll be a lot more to see and experience at Saturday's festival, so plan to come.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 at Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Blvd., between Cloverfield Blvd. and 28th Street.

The festival is free and open to all ages and is a solar-powered, near zero-waste event.

Free and ample parking is available but attendees are encouraged to take public transportation, walk or bike. Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus Line 8 serves Clover Park. This year’s festivities include a free and safe Bike Valet located at 25th Street south of Ocean Park Boulevard. Clover Park is wheelchair accessible. For more information please visit


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