Just under 10,000 music lovers gathered at Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove in San Francisco on Sunday, June 12, for the triumphant return of Stern Grove Festival. The opening day of the 85th season not only celebrated the kick-off of the admission-free Bay Area concert series, but marked the first time the meadow allowed in-person audiences since a water main rupture caused extensive damage in August 2021.
The season opening featured a double bill with two East Bay legends: R&B and funk band Tower of Power and rapper Too $hort. (They were supposed to close out the 2021 Stern Grove season, but the show was postponed because of the flood.) Longtime fan Lisa Bazurto has attended several Stern Grove concerts over the years and was excited to see the festival pick up right where it left off. Bazurto was one of the thousands who could be spotted dancing and enjoying live music in the park.
“I came out here to celebrate life again and get moving,” Bazurto said. “I had tickets for the last year that got canceled, so I’m happy to be here again for the reopening.”
Beyond live music, the festival is a San Francisco cultural staple. On Sunday, the proof was evident in the laid-back atmosphere and diverse crowds at the festival grounds.
“It’s true to who we are… it’s like, authentic. It represents the Bay. You can look at the people and see that this is true Bay Area love,” said San Francisco resident Ty Berry.