Head west for food festivals, free concerts

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Jamie Lee Pricer

It’s everything salsa — dance, music and food — at Oxnard’s annual Salsa Festival, July 25-26.
Photo by Ken Jones

As far back as weather records go, the month of July tops the chart with the hottest temperatures. It’s time to get out of town. For anyone who needs a quick escape, we’ve rounded up a calendar of one-tank (or less) activities west of the Coachella Valley.

First, who doesn’t love food? Or, wine and beer? Check out our list of food and wine festivals that will take you from Latin food, music and dance to country-style barbecue ribs to New Orleans crawfish and music.

For music lover, keep our list of free summer concerts and check back next year; they are all annual events. Most have picnicking and stretching out on the grass opportunities.

Food and wine festivals

Salsa Festival — Oxnard

July 25-26: 22nd annual celebration of everything salsa — the food, the music, the dance. There’s an international food court, marketplace selling gourmet salsas and sauces, boutique clothing, hand-crafted jewelry and other apparel, salsa recipe contest, and performances by salsa and Latin bands. Free admission, parking. Plaza Park, 500 S. C St., Oxnard. www.oxnardsalsafestival.com

Big Bite Bacon Fest
— Long Beach

Aug. 1-2: Top chefs and competitive cooks prepare bacon-inspired selections for guests to, ahem, pig out on during this second annual event. Craft beers also will be available. Afternoon and evening sessions on Saturday, one afternoon session on Sunday. $35-$75. Queen Mary Events Park, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach. www.bigbitebaconfest.com

Brew at the Zoo — Los Angeles

Aug. 7: Stroll part of the grounds at the Los Angeles Zoo and sample beer from craft and microbreweries, local bands and pub-style grub. Guests must be 21 and older. $45-$55. Los Angeles Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles. www.lazoo.org/brew

Corn Festival — La Habra

Aug. 7-9: The side item on the summer barbecue grill becomes the main dish during the 67th annual event hosted by the La Habra Host Lions Club. Besides corn — there will be 14,000 ears of buttered cobs gobbled up during the weekend — other highlights include a parade at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, which usually draws 25,000 spectators to the route along La Habra Boulevard, an apple pie baking contest and a cute baby contest. Admission, entertainment free. El Centro-
Lions Park, 320 E. Erna Ave., La Habra. www.lahabracornfestival.com

Crawfish Festival — Long Beach

Aug. 14-16: Cajun crawfish dinners are the main entrees served up at this 22nd annual event, which also includes dancing to Cajun and Zydeco bands and a play area for kids all in a Big Easy atmosphere. $15. Rainbow Lagoon Park, 400 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach. www.longbeachcraw fishfestival.com

Sausage and Beer Festival
— Cherry Valley

Aug. 22-23: Enjoy selections from Inland Empire breweries, homemade sausages, music and family games and activities
at Highland Springs Resort’s annual Sausage and Beer Festival. 10-600 Highland Springs Ave., Cherry Valley. (951) 845-1151, www.hsresort.com

BBQ Festival — Long Beach

Aug. 28-30: With a fierce competition for best barbecue ribs and best barbecue sauce in Southern California, hungry attendees are the winners during this annual event. In addition, there’s country music, a dance floor and entertainment for the kids. $13. Rainbow Lagoon Park, 350 E. Shoreline Drive, Long Beach. (562) 495-5959, www.longbeachbbqfestival.com

Free concerts

Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival

The Redlands Bowl is America’s oldest continuously running summer music festival presented at no charge. All programs begin at 8:15 p.m. Seating is on benches with backs or blankets and lawn chairs on grass. No dogs. Picnics allowed. 25 Grant St., Redlands. (909) 793-7316, redlandsbowl.org

July

14: An Evening with A.J. Croce (singer, songwriter)

16, 17: Rhythmic Circus (tap dance extravaganza)

23-26: Mary Poppins (musical)

28: Run Boy Run (all acoustic traditional American music)

31: The Singing Cinema (orchestra)

August

4: The New Hot Club of America (Gypsy jazz)

7: Redlands Symphony Orchestra

11: A Tribute to Glenn Miller and Harry James featuring Tex Beneke Orchestra staring Mary Lou Metzger and String of Pearls

14: Incendio (Fusion guitar)

18: Navy Band of the Southwest

21: Redlands Symphony Orchestra

Rhythm of Riverside Summer
Concerts Series

The city of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department presents a series of free family-oriented band concerts in various genres at Fairmount Park from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays through July. Food is available from local vendors. Bring a blanket or beach chair. The concerts begin with the performances by Riverside Sings! Vocal Competition contestants. 2601 Fairmont Blvd., Riverside. (951) 826-2000, riversideca.gov 

15: Latin Society (Latin)

22: Southbound (Classic Rock)

29: Neon Nation (80s Pop)

Summer Wednesdays Concert Series

Cal State San Bernardino hosts free concerts from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays in July on the Pfau Library Lawn. The scene is perfect for picnicking and concessions are available. Parking is free in Lot D. 55-000 University Parkway, San Bernardino. (909) 537-7360, csusb.edu

15: Classic rock (Eagles tribute)

22: Rumours (Fleetwood Mac tribute)

29: Latin Flair

Yucaipa concerts in the park

Musicians, not batters, will be at home plate from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sundays through August at Yucaipa Community Park Ball Field, Oak Glen Road at Second Street, Yucaipa. Dogs are not allowed. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. (909) 790-3146, (909) 790-7460, yucaipa.org

July

19: GoGo’s (tribute)

26: TBA

August

2: La Sirena (Latin dance)

9: Classic Rock (tribute)

16: Strange Days (The Doors tribute)

23: The Longboards, Heartache Tonight (Beach Boys, Eagles tribute)