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    Rink Photo Throwback: Castro Street Fair

    With the 2023 Castro Street Fair now on the horizon—scheduled for Sunday, October 1—San Francisco Bay Times lead photographer Rink shared historic images that he took at previous such events. Rink has attended and photographed every Castro Street Fair since the first one was held in 1974.

    Rink wrote, “Harvey Milk founded the Castro Street Fair after I invited him to join me at the crowded popular annual Upper Grant Avenue Street Fair in North Beach (now the North Beach Festival).”

    Rink and Milk were therefore among the over 5,000 people at the fair that day. It was a wild year: Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president forced to resign (due to the Watergate Scandal) and Gerald Ford had only been in office for a few months at the time of the 1974 fair. Elton John was the top LGBTQ artist on the radio airwaves with singles from the previous year’s release Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (although he did not publicly come out until 1976) and Joseph Alioto was San Francisco’s mayor.

    As the years went on, word about the great fair spread. In 1977, the estimated attendance was 70,000. By 2007, that number rose yet again to 300,000, according to the organizers.

    The fair went on hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and returned in 2021. The number of attendees has once again been on the rise, so let’s see what the estimates turn out to be this year. Next year, for the fair’s 50th Anniversary, a record attendance is expected.

    For more information about this year’s Castro Street Fair:

    And for a look back at the Upper Grant Avenue Street Fair that, thanks to Rink and Milk, helped to inspire the Castro Street Fair:

    Rink Throwback: Castro Street Fair
    Published on September 21, 2023