Best Bets for the Weekend | October 18 – 20

Napa grower Leonardo Urena took top honors Oct. 14 at the 46th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off with his 2,175-pound giant. The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival runs this weekend. (Photo courtesy of the Half Moon Bay festival)

The Bay Area is a hub of artistic expression, attracting artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to live, work and create. We highlight some of the offerings here.

• Super squashes: Consider the poor pumpkin. Thanks to coffee shops and bakeries, America’s favorite fall gourd has been reduced to a popular flavor for oh-so-special lattes and muffins. But come to Half Moon Bay this weekend and feast your eyes on real pumpkins — massive, craggy, 1,000-plus-pound behemoths that look like long-ago-abandoned extraterrestrial eggs. The Half Moon Bay annual Art & Pumpkin Festival will have lots of them, plus carving contests, arts and crafts, a parade, live music, kids activities and plenty to eat and drink, including pumpkin-infused ales and cocktails. The event, one of the Bay Area’s most popular festivals, runs 10-5 p.m. Oct. 19-20, and admission is free. Go to for more details.

Just another little piece of her story: Award-winning author and two-time Grammy nominee Holly George-Warren is crisscrossing the country visiting all the old stomping grounds of legendary power-blues singer Janis Joplin, the subject of her latest book, “Janis” (Simon & Schuster, $28.99). Which of course, brings her to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District, where Janis lived in a Victorian on Ashbury Street at the height of the hippie era. George-Warren talks about the book first at a Heritage with Booksmith event at 6 p.m. Oct. 17 at The Bindery, 1727 Haight St., a ticketed event that is currently sold out, but may have some availability at the door; She also stops in at  Book Passage at 51 Tamal Vista Ave. in Corte Madera at 4 p.m. Oct. 19, And you can check out a bit on Janis’ San Francisco digs at

• A Mozart masterpiece: Class struggles, sexual politics and madcap comedy combine in San Francisco Opera’s current production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” which has drawn rave reviews on every aspect of the show. It’s the first of three operas on which the composer collaborated with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, and which the company will be mounting with the same creative team (“Cosi fan tutte” and “Don Giovanni” are to come), this one set in Colonial America. It stars bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as the wily servant Figaro, who must outsmart lord-of-the manor Count Almaviva (Levente Molnár) so that he can marry his beloved Susanna (Jeanine De Bique) undespoiled. Catch it at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 or 19, with performances continuing through Nov. 1 at the War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness. Tickets, $26-$408, are at 415-864-3330 or

The women’s vocal group Kitka performs with Armenian folk singer Hasmik Harutyunyan in a trio of concerts. (Photo courtesy of Kitka)

• Armenian rhapsody: The heavenly Bay Area women’s choir Kitka teams with singer Hasmik Harutyunyan for a trio of concerts dedicated to all-but-lost Armenian folkloric music — performances that promise to be heartbreaking, uplifting and transcendent. Concerts are Oct. 17 at Green Music Center in Rohnert Park (free); Oct. 18 at St. Vartan Armenian Church in Oakland ($22-$40), and Oct. 19 at Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose ($30-$45). More information is at

• A “Dreamer” dance: Add sjDANCEco to the list of arts groups tackling current themes and hot-button issues. The South  Bay contemporary dance troupe’s fall program this weekend includes a brand new work, “This is where/I Begin…,” dedicated to the plight of undocumented Mexicans immigrants in the U.S. The timely program also includes Maria Basile’s work celebrating the legacy of Nelson Mandela and a revival of José Limón’s classic “Paradise Lost”-inspired dance “The Exiles.” Performances, featuring accompaniment by the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, are at 8 p.m. Oct. 18-19 at the California Theater in San Jose. Tickets are $$45-$70 ($100 VIP tickets available for Oct. 19 only);  

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *