The annual Autumn Moon Festival was held in San Francisco’s Chinatown last weekend, and I went in with camera blazing. Like the neighborhood itself, the festival is one of the city’s more eclectic street fairs; think Chinatown on steroids. I knew from past experience that the Autumn Moon Festival is a photographic gold mine, and this year didn’t disappoint …
Held annually the third weekend of September, the festival marks the 1,000-year-old Chinese tradition of celebrating the summer harvest, the full moon and the myth of the moon goddess, Chang-O, who should not be confused with Yeah Yeah Yeah’s singer Karen O.
This was the 22nd running of the festival, and the weather couldn’t have been more autumn perfect. Fun fact: the Autumn Moon Festival was first held in 1991 as a way to help Chinatown merchants recover from the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake, and it quickly became one of the city’s major annual events. By all reports, this year saw one of the biggest crowds ever, probably due to the awesome weather and an aggressive marketing campaign.
While tourists are usually blown away by the exoticism of Chinatown, we locals know that our Chinatown can also be a little tacky, and that’s exactly how we like it. Where else can you get dim sum, a Hello Kitty lunchbox, a tiger mask, orchids, a palm reading, dragon hair candy and the best moon cake this side of … well, the moon? Chinatown, that’s where!
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the 2012 San Francisco Chinatown Autumn Moon Festival!