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Puff the Magic Street Faire: Thousands Drawn to Antiques, Art and Ambience of The Village

Weather smiles on eighth annual event hosted by La Mesa Village Merchants Association, with 75 booths attracting young and old—and their dogs.

Guitar case open for donations, Julian Rey Saenz quietly played and sang Puff the Magic Dragon in front of  Handful of Wildflowers.  Currency covered the bottom of his case like autumn leaves. Not bad for the 12-year-old La Mesan—almost 13—who attends College Prep Middle School and has been strumming only 2½ years.

But listeners, and music-loving donors, were plentiful Sunday at the eighth annual Antique Street Faire in The Village, held under near-perfect conditions—with temperatures in the high 60s. Only puffy clouds broke up the sunshine.

Arlene Moore of Park Estate Antiques, organizer of the event, said as many as 4,000 people attended, exploring 75 booths—about half of them operated by local merchants. Vendor space was a draw as well—only $100 for the 10-by-10-foot lots.

The Village has “10-plus” antique stores, she said. Their reputation draws visitors year-round—even passengers from cruise ships docking in San Diego. The spillover of folks checking out La Mesa’s downtown benefits local restaurants and other shops as well, she noted.

Rain is feared every year, Moore said. Probably five previous fairs had gotten wet, she said.

“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “People still come.”

One year, people rushed into stores to escape a cloudburst. She said it was their best year yet.

“God is always being good to us,” she said, standing in front of Park Estate, where visitors could bring in their own antiques for free appraisal.

People poked through everything from old Coke bottles and early 20th century kitchen gear to racks of clothes and shelves filled with toys and myriad knickknacks.

Local art galleries piggybacked the fair as well, Moore said as she embraced fellow merchant Shannon O’Dunn, who three days earlier celebrated her birthday and the second anniversary of O’Dunn Fine Art.

Visual arts weren’t the only ones represented.  Area author Tom Kirkbride displayed books from his Gamadin series of science-fiction adventures for young people—noting the posters behind him prepared by Costco and handing out copies of The Gamadin Gazette, a 6-page promotion designed like a newspaper.

Dogs were welcome, too.

Joe Carpenter of San Carlos brought Sophie Bean, his 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier “with an overbite.” Leashed canines were as common as kids.

After seven hours, the event hosted by the La Mesa Village Merchants Association wound down about 4 p.m.—and Moore already was thinking ahead to next year. 

Vendors can nail down prime space now, she said.

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