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Arts and Entertainment

Sunset Junction Festival Circa 1980: 'The Whole Affair was Rather Darling'

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Photo by jpfmack via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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Before the fence and the admission fees, the jet-setting bands and even jet-setting fans, the Sunset Junction Festival was all about the hood.Wes Joe, a longtime resident of Silver Lake, dug up some archives from the inaugural event in August 1980 that The Eastsider has posted.

The 2-page line-up (that includes some acts that would not be out of place at a 5-year-old's birthday) gives you an idea of the event's scope:

Great American Yankee Freedom Band
Karen Rothstein - Juggler
Castelar Children's Center - Chinese Ribbon/Dragon Dancers
Clark Branson - Concertina
Christopher Martinelli - Magician
C'est Nous - Jazz Band
Kaz and Angel DeLisse - Trained Parrot
Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles
Joyce Yarrow & Jim Wetzel Jazz Trio
Sophia Potoka - Guitarist/Singer
Thai Folk Dancers - Dance Troupe
Midnight Riders - Women's Rock Band

That's because before Sunset Junction Festival got so big, it was all about bringing the neighborhood together:

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The fair was organized by a group of gay and lesbians, headed by Joyce Azelton, from Silver Lake and Echo Park who were seeking to ease tensions between gay newcomers and longtime Latino residents. Gang members who were recruited to serve as fair monitors received sensitivity training on gay lifestyle; other volunteers were schooled in gang history, according to The Advocate.

The event had humble beginnings, but it was a rousing success: 60,000 attended the weekend-long festival, and the Advocate wrote, "The whole affair was rather darling."