The 29th Annual French Festival is happening this weekend at Oak Park in Santa Barbara, with plans for great music, French food and dancing.

Events are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and this year’s event benefits Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories.

Stages will have dance and musical performances from more than 30 acts including tango, can-can and French Polynesian dancers, West African belly dancing, and the Femme Fatales Drag Revue.

There will be games, a scavenger hunt, costumed characters and a 15th-century-style French Deeds of Arms tournament combat show. 

At 6 p.m. each day, there will be the Annual Canine Cavalcade where people can bring their four-legged friends to join in a parade.

“Planning the festival is always great fun,” said festival director Terri Ball, director of Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories.

“It’s crazy and exciting and always a fun challenge. Every year, because you’re dealing with so many different people, so many different city organizations, rules and laws, there’s all kinds of new surprises that come up, but also we have a lot of the same people so it’s like a family reunion.

“It’s a little bit like a little kid planning a birthday party. You go to all this trouble and make all the plans, try to make it all fit for everybody, and then Saturday morning we sit in the park and wait and hope that everybody shows up to the party,” she said. 

The festival usually has between 12,000 and 15,000 people attend over the course of the two days, so it’s likely that many people will be showing up to the party.

“Part of what’s fun about the French Festival is we try to celebrate as much cultural influences all over the world and through colonization and everything, the French had a very wide impact,” Ball said. “There’s light entertainment and you can learn more about the culture. We try to have a lot of French facts sprinkled throughout the festival.”

The Santa Barbara French Festival was originally founded by Steve Hogerman, who ran it for many years, but six years ago, Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories took over the festival, Ball said. 

Both nonprofits use the festival as a fundraiser. 

“I find it interesting that last year, the festival turnout was a wonderful show of solidarity the day after the bombings in France,” said Karen Perkins, who does marketing for the festival. “This year, we will be another venue for solidarity as our community joins the festival and takes a break from the fires.”

Noozhawk intern Julia Lee can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.