FESTIVALS & EVENTS : The World Beats a Path to Orange

Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

Every Labor Day weekend, the resolutely old-fashioned streets of downtown Orange are home to a resolutely old-fashioned community fair.

For the 19th year running, several blocks of Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street radiating from the city’s historic traffic circle will be closed to automobile traffic Friday through Sunday for the Orange International Street Fair.

Instead of cars, the streets will be crowded with food and craft booths as well as with huge crowds attending what has become one of the county’s most popular community events.


Marshall Feduk, spokesman for the all-volunteer event, said that more than 400,000 visitors have attended the fair during its three-day run in past years. “Saturday at 6 p.m. it’s impossible to cross the street,” said Feduk, who has run an art booth at the fair for 14 years.

“If you try to cross, it’s like crossing a river. You just get swept along.”

The flavor of the fair is mostly European, with local ethnic organizations offering samples of their national cuisines, from German bratwurst to Greek gyros, and a smattering of music and other entertainment.

In addition to Austrian, Danish, Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Irish and Swiss, the nationalities to be represented with food booths at this year’s fair are Japanese, Mexican, Afghan, Arab, Asian, American Indian and All-American (that is, hot dogs and hamburgers and the like). Some of the booths will also offer entertainment, ranging from belly dancing to oompah bands.

The park area inside the traffic circle will be given over to a “Children’s Village,” where activities will include finger painting, T-shirt painting, clown-face painting and other crafts. Ringing the circle will be more than 80 sales booths offering wares such as dolls, clothing, jewelry and other crafted items.

There will be eight smaller entertainment stages spread throughout the fair, and a main stage that will feature continuous live entertainment. Among the offerings are swing, jazz, rock and blues bands, a student dance troupe, square dancers and a karaoke competition. Opening ceremonies for the event will be at 7 p.m. Friday on the main stage.


What: Orange International Street Fair.

When: Friday, Aug. 30, 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Chapman Avenue and Glassell Street, Orange (park on surrounding streets).

Whereabouts: From the Garden Grove freeway, take Glassell Street north and watch for signs to the fair.

Wherewithal: Admission is free.

Where to Call: (714) 744-7276.