1 Shine a light

Refugees from Vietnam began streaming into San Diego, among other places, more than 30 years ago and settled in City Heights. The nonprofit Little Saigon Foundation, which has for the past few years been working on establishing a Little Saigon District, wants you to know that many of these folks still struggle to get by in the United States. One of the ways the foundation spreads the word about this vibrant community is by holding the San Diego Lantern Festival, which celebrates Vietnamese culture and peppers it with some uniquely American activities.

This year's festival happens Friday, Aug. 17, through Sunday, Aug. 19, at Hoover High School (4474 El Cajon Blvd.) in City Heights (5 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). On the menu are carnival rides and games, a kids talent contest, a Little Saigon Singing Idol competition, a break-dance competition, a Chinese Chess competition, lion-dance and martial-arts performances, street performances and live music, and tons of amazing food—plus, if you're into this sort of thing, the Miss Asia San Diego 2012 Pageant.

The main attraction, of course, is the display of 6,000 Vietnamese silk lanterns.

"The lanterns represent hope and are used to celebrate the summer harvest," says Susan Nguyen, community outreach organizer and volunteer coordinator for the Little Saigon Foundation. "It also shows a sign for a better and brighter future."

And that goes for the ethnic community and the neighborhood.

"Little Saigon Foundation hosts the Lantern Festival because we are trying to infuse life and culture into City Heights in order to revitalize City Heights," Nguyen says. "Not only are we infusing culture; we hope to increase micro-enterprising for individuals and small businesses." sdlanternfestival.com

2 Chicano chatter

In June, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's La Jolla location (700 Prospect St.) opened the exhibition Santa Ana Condition: John Valadez, which features Valadez's paintings of Chicano life and culture. The exhibition, currently on view, is a huge milestone for Chicano artists. You can learn more about what's happening in the Chicano art scene at Perspective: Resurrected Histories, happening Thursday, Aug. 16, at the museum. The event includes a screening  of Resurrected Histories: Voices from the Chicano Arts Collectives of Highland Park, followed by a panel talk on the state of Chicano art. The event starts at 7 p.m., but you can view the Valadez exhibit for free from 5 to 7 p.m. The talk is $5 to $10. mcasd.org

3 Overall good time

Bust out your overalls for a Wild Willow Farm Community Potluck Gathering and movie screening at the South Bay farm and education center. The event is free to folks who bring a dish to share and kicks off with a farm tour at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18. The dinner bell rings at 6:30 p.m., giving city slickers a taste of the simple life with sourdough, wood-fired pizza that's made from organic ingredients harvested that day. Cozy up at 7:30 p.m. for a screening of the awardwinning film directed by Taggart Siegel, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, about how Midwestern farmer, John Peterson, revolutionizes his family's farm despite a downturned economy. There are more events happening during the day, including an owl-box-building workshop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. sandiegoroots.org

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email our events editor, Alex Zaragoza. You can also bug her on Twitter.


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