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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 7:40 am | Mostly Cloudy 48º


French Festival Bringing Flair to Santa Barbara’s Oak Park This Weekend

Saturday and Sunday's events include food, music, dancing and a daily poodle parade

Visitors enjoy the Parisian lifestyle at a past French Festival in Santa Barbara’s Oak Park.
Visitors enjoy the Parisian lifestyle at a past French Festival in Santa Barbara’s Oak Park. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

This weekend, Oak Park will be more lively than usual as a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower will stand under the native oaks, welcoming thousands to the Santa Barbara French Festival

The free festival is in its 27th year, and will feature all kinds of French food, dance, music and other delights at the park on Saturday and Sunday.

About 12,000 people attended the festival last year, and coordinators are inviting the public to enjoy a crepe and a glass of wine at the park as part of the 2015 festivities.

The festival opens on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and closed at 7 p.m. on both days. Entertainment will be taking place on three different stages across the park from 30 different acts.

The musical acts vary, from the Accordion Music Society of Santa Barbara to the "French Johnny Cash," known as J.R. Black, who will be playing Sunday on the Eiffel Tower Stage.

"You haven't lived until you've heard 'Folsom Prison Blues' sung in French," said Terry Ball, executive director of Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories.  

For the past four years, the French Festival has served as the main fundraiser for the two Santa Barbara arts organizations Ball represents, and provides a significant boost that helps them further the arts throughout the rest of the year.

Some of the groups that perform at the festival, like the West Coast Ballet, also perform at Center Stage Theater, so money earned this weekend will go towards their future performances there.

"The French Festival helps them raise money for their Nutcracker performances in December," Ball said. 

Dance demonstrations and group performances will be taking place all weekend as part of the festivities, and the large Moulin Rouge Stage will be the location of a drag revue performed by the Grand Dames of the Femme Fatales.

New this year is a scavenger hunt — "a little Parisian adventure," Ball called it — where festival attendees are invited to find pictures hidden around the park and take selfies with them in order to win prizes such as a free drink, shirt or tote bag.

More information on the scavenger hunt can be found at the information booth located near the miniature Eiffel Tower.

Spectators can also take in the poodle parade on Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m., which is now on both days instead of just Saturday like last year, Ball said.

A full schedule of events and more information can be found here.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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