San Francisco's Fillmore Jazz Festival celebrates 35 years with music, food, and fun

The Fillmore Jazz Festival kicked off in San Francisco on Saturday. It's the largest jazz festival on the West Coast. 

Music fans got to the festival early to stake out a prime spot Saturday in front of one of the main stages near California Street.

"We come every year, love the festivities, we always have a good time, lots of people, good, happy vibes," said Charetta Chase of Rio Vista. "It gets packed, I'm talking about wall-to-wall people.

This year the festival is celebrating its 35th anniversary. The theme is "Harlem of the West," which honors the neighborhood's rich cultural history dating back to the 1940s when jazz clubs hosted major musical talents.

"A lot of the artists here are based here in the Bay Area, and they've been performing for so many years. A couple of them are Grammy winners as well. And you'll get to experience the feeling of the 1940s jazz renaissance. Each stage has its own personality," said Fillmore Jazz Festival Production Manager Chrei Torres. 

More than a hundred vendors lined Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy Streets, featuring handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing and food.

Tedra Rose, who owns The Original Mommie Helen's Bakery, a third-generation family business, drove from Southern California to participate.

She counts Shaq, Magic Johnson and other celebrities as loyal customers. 

"It's just the atmosphere and the fact that it's a free festival, so everyone can walk through, bring their families and listen to good music, and eat pies," said Rose. 

The free two-day festival, presented by The Fillmore Merchants Association, gives small businesses a chance to showcase their work. Azil Boutique in Hayes Valley designs and makes its jewelry in San Francisco.

"It's cool to keep coming back and kind of seeing the growth and change, especially post-pandemic, it's still thriving so that's nice to see," said Shamani Anongchanya, who helps her aunt run Azil Boutique. 

The festival continues through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.