1. Political party
Scott Lewis really wants you to take a more active interest in the future of San Diego, and he thinks he knows how to engage you. But he realizes that there might be barriers standing in your way. Among them is that you're a parent, and you have to bring your kids along.
That's why Lewis, CEO of the news website Voice of San Diego, created Politifest last year. It's a five-hour hootenanny of citizenship—with candidate debates, awareness-raising of issues and organizations, a beer garden, live music, a problem-solving competition and, yes, activities for children. It's a community fair organized around politics and civic affairs.
The second annual event happens from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at Ingram Plaza in Point Loma's Liberty Station. The highlights are debates between mayoral candidates Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner (10:30 to 11:30 a.m.) and between candidates for school board (12:30 to 1:30 p.m.) and the Idea Tournament, in which pre-submitted solutions to civic dilemmas are pitted against one another, with the winner being selected by the crowd (1:30 to 2:15 p.m.)
The idea, Lewis says, is to expand the concept of public-affairs journalism from something that's just in print or on a screen and into more of an interactive format, and also to help people become better citizens. "I wanted to create a setting," Lewis says, "where you'd feel like it was something to go do, and also have a chance to interact with people you might disagree with or who have ideas you haven't heard before, while also getting a beer and letting your kids play."
For a lot of folks, the big draw will be the Filner-DeMaio debate—much is at stake for the future of the city, and the pair present two very different paths to get there. But the highlight for Lewis is the Idea Tournament. "This idea of turning the hunt for ideas into a game is something I've always been fascinated by," he says. voiceofsandiego.org/politifest
2. Accessible Classical
In a review of Art of Elan's May 2011 chamber-music performance Voce, CityBeat's Kinsee Morlan admitted to causing a disruption. Flutist Demarre McGill, she wrote, made her jaw drop, "along with my lens cap, which, sadly, you can hear very clearly in the live recording." Can chamber music do that? Art of Elan's can. McGill and partner Kate Hatmaker open a new season with Crossfire—a nod to the program's melding of musical styles like jazz, surf-rock and Latin—on Thursday, Sept. 27, at Luce Loft (1037 J St., Downtown). Doors, and the bar, open at 5:45 p.m. The show begins at 7 p.m. and an after-party follows with a performance by "surf-jazz" band The Red Fox Tails at 8:30 p.m. A $15 ticket includes one free drink. artofelan.org
3. Full fat fun
San Diego loves two things: beer and bikes. That pair comes together from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, for Tour de Fat, an annual traveling bike-and-brew fest organized by New Belgium Brewing Co. that prides itself on its weirdness. There are sideshow freaks, port-o-potty karaoke, a costumed bike parade and crazy, handmade bikes to try riding. That includes a people-powered bike merry-go-round that's wickedly nausea-inducing. This year will be especially awesome thanks to a live performance by DeVotchKa, the Denver gypsy-punk quartet that scored the film Little Miss Sunshine. Also performing are The Cleverlys, who do bluegrass covers of pop songs, and a yo-yo show by Yo-Yo People. Grab a Fat Tire beer and enjoy all the kookiness. newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat