Monday, September 01, 2008

Successful Bear Fair

The Hairrison Street Fair, San Francisco's Bear Fair, was a huge success on Sunday August 31, 2008. August went out with a bang at the fair, and there were long lines all day to enter the street bacchanal that celebrated big hairy men. Last year's fair raised $150,000, and this year's goal is $250,000 for beneficiaries: the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Team Bear, AIDS Housing Alliance, Fog Rugby, and the Gay Softball League.

Ten DJ's, five bands, and five entertainment venues were featured. Thousands of men and some women turned out in the sun for Jagermeister, beer, and the usual roasted meats and side dishes. Standout exhibits included the Rainbow World Fund's bus, studly guys at the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus beer booth, an anti-Hepatitis B booth, and Stop AIDS Project's informational display. It was an exciting three-block fair that claims the highest per capita fundraising rate of any gay street fair.

The Winsome Griffles led the bands, and keyboardist Larrybob Roberts, guitarist Jack Dubowsky, and Stark Raving Brad Kopp had the attentive crowd laughing and wincing to the band's new song "Your New Stupid Boyfriend." Some of the sponsors included the San Francisco Bay Times, The, BART, Jagermeister, Budweiser, Energy 92.7, the Lone Star Saloon, the Powerhouse, Gus Presents, Stoli, Kaiser Permanente, Steamworks, and Barefoot Wine.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made an impression, as they worked booths throughout the fair, and the handsome men in underwear and jockstraps at the Dunk-a-Hunk booth drew stunned stares and smiles as each of the hunks was dropped suddenly into the cold water for charity.

Dozens of people danced all day to the bands and DJs' sounds, and the music and beer and strolling and cruising created magic moments. There were lots of phone numbers and email addresses pressed into palms and jeans pockets. And not all of the celebrants were big hairy men. There was a diversity throughout the crowd, and it drew a higher level of friendliness at the compact fair than is seen at San Francisco's other street carnivals.

PrideWorks, the California non-profit that produces the fair and Bear Week events, celebrates and promotes a safe-sex culture. Bareback erotic industry funding is not accepted. And PrideWorks supports anti-crystal meth activisim and education.

Pete King, the head of PrideWorks, has a mystique around him. Besides the bears and bear cubs that growl at him and want to get closer, he has been successful as a popular San Francisco Pride Co-Chair, the Chair of East Bay Pride, and now Bear Week that climaxes with the Hairrison Street Fair. Pete has a gift for drawing diverse people together, developing their talents, and organizing them to produce fine events that are enjoyed by huge numbers of people.

Pete drew a large crew of hardworking and partying volunteers who actually gushed (in a butch way) about working for him and the community. Bear Week’s “CA(Bear)et” cabaret show at the Octavaia Lounge, the dances, and parties were quality events that ran smoothly and showed off performers and guests to their best advantage. Next year’s Bear Week festivities are eagerly awaited.

[Photo caption: 8/31/08 — A big, friendly, good-looking muscle bear recruits customers at the Dunk-a-Hunk booth at the Hairrison Street Fair.]