Scene Stealers

Marijke Rowland: Summer’s heating up, along with entertainment in the region

mrowland@modbee.comMay 15, 2014 

Say a little prayer for the poor entertainment reporter come summertime in the Central Valley.

In case you hadn’t noticed, things are starting to heat up here. Despite all of our cries of, “But it’s only May!” the mercury has a mind of its own.

Of course, the temperature isn’t the only thing rising as the days get longer. The Central Valley’s crop of warm-weather events is almost as bountiful as what’s growing in its fields. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

The long, hot summer of entertainment is just around the corner. How hot? Scorching. Bring water and wear sunscreen. I’m not kidding about that. Most of these events are outside, and sunstroke is a real thing. Hence that request for a prayer.

So, what’s coming our way? Well, Graffiti Summer kicks off at the end of the month. The annual celebration of chrome and steel brings classic cars in droves to Modesto’s streets once again. Remember last year when George Lucas dropped by to ride around and wave? Good times, good times.

Well, unless you were a reporter tasked with running on the sweltering asphalt after his car. It was hot that weekend, too. But also cool, very cool.

Then, the surest sign that summer has hit the Valley is the emergence of blankets in Graceada Park. Throughout the summer, the 95th season of MoBand, the wildly popular Thursday night concerts in the park, returns for a six-week run June 5.

The Modesto institution brings people from all over to enjoy warm summer nights and elaborate picnic spreads together.

After Graffiti Summer comes the Stanislaus County Fair, which begins its 10-day run July 11. Its big-name entertainment lineup includes Wynonna, Kansas, Kool & the Gang, Three Dog Night and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Even better, the concerts are always free with fair admission. Best of all, they all start after the sun goes down.

Still not hot enough for you? Just wait for August, when X-Fest returns for its 15th anniversary year. The Xclamation Festival will heat up downtown Modesto’s blacktop Aug. 23. The headliners haven’t been announced yet, but judging by the thousands who stream to the outdoor festival each year to enjoy multiple stages of music, it almost doesn’t matter. The opportunity to sip cold beer with good friends is enough to bring people back again and again.

And they come despite the year a Modesto police officer clocked the asphalt temperature at 124 degrees. I considered putting in for hazard pay that same year.

Then there are all the festivals, starting with the Oakdale Chocolate Festival this weekend and including the Patterson Apricot Fiesta (May 31 and June 1), Scottish Highland Games (June 7), Modstock Music Festival (Aug. 10), Ceres BBQ Challenge & Music Festival (Aug. 23) and many more.

Just thinking about our long, hot summer already has me breaking out in a sweat. But as long as we hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, I know we’ll all get through it just fine. In fact, I can guarantee it’ll be fun. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter @marijkerowland.

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