Street fair brings Inner Sunset together 

With its rows and rows of tightly packed homes and apartments combined with an eclectic group of eateries and a wide range of businesses, the Inner Sunset is a neighborhood that is easy to fall in love with.

But those who were at the inaugural Inner Sunset Street Fair on Saturday say there was one thing that has been missing: neighbor interaction.

That started to change last summer, when the Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market started popping up every Sunday morning in a parking lot between a defunct brew pub and a shoe shop. (The brew pub recently opened up again as the Social Kitchen and Brewery.)

“I live on Seventh Avenue and I would walk from place to place in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t talk to anyone,” said Paul Green, a board member of the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors. “Now I go to the farmers’ market and spend about an hour picking produce and talking people.”

A thick blanket of fog - something Inner Sunset residents are all too used to - may have clouded some of the spirits, but it was still a festive atmosphere at the fair, which took over Irving Street between Ninth and 10th avenues and 10th Avenue between Irving Street and Lincoln Way.

Vendors ranging from the Fire Department to artists were restricted to neighborhood businesses, circus performers kept kids entertained and music kept everyone with a bounce in their step. And, of course, there were food samples from the restaurants, who saw a definite uptick in foot traffic Saturday.

“It’s fun and good to have in our own neighbohood,” said Vanessa Viray, the owner-manager of Paragraph, a clothing store on Ninth Avenue that had a booth set up on 10th. “The people I know from the neighborhood are excited. There is a real feeling of community.”

The street fair came about through the grass-roots efforts of Adam Greenfield and Chris Duderstadt. Greenfield said the neighborhood, which acts as an entrance to Golden Gate Park, lacked a gathering space.

“Knowing your neighborhood and community is really enriching,” Greenfield said. “This is like a zeitgeist going on.”

Added Duderstadt: “This is a celebration of what’s going on in the neighborhood.”

And while there’s neither a wine bar or million-dollar condos coming into the Inner Sunset, the understatedness is not likely to evaporate anytime soon.

“We’re not trying to be Pacific Heights,” said Susan Maerki, also a board member of the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors, who likes the fact families remain in the neighborhood.

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Steve Drumwright

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