Summer in Spring: BBQ & Beer Fest

A caboodle of eat/drink parties dot the state-big calendar.

SUMMERTIME AND SUPPING... have as many prisms as a glass wind chime hanging from an old oak, the kind of wind chime that makes music with every warm July breeze. You have your cold treats, the ice pops and frozen slushies, in the hotter season. You have your salads, and your easy-to-make sandwiches, and just about anything that doesn't require the oven. And you have your large-scale, sip-and-nosh spectaculars, the kind of alfresco festivals where everyone throws on a pair of shorts and a tee for easy-breezy strolling around (and easy-breezy eating). To find such a festival weeks or even months before summer says its first official hello, though, can offer up a tantalizing challenge. But here's one way over the first hurdle: Look to the people who stage the oh-so-big, oh-so-brew-tastic California Beer Festival. This mondo traveling happening does indeed visit Santa Cruz, and Ventura, too, but there are a few other flavorful to-dos on its calendar way, way ahead of summertime. Those include a...

TEQUILA & TACO MUSIC FESTIVAL... in San Diego in late March, a BBQ & Beer Festival in Santa Clarita in May, and an April bubbly bash on Ventura's Main Street. If you have a hankering for any of these libations or plate-based classics (tacos and BBQ are beyond classic, we know), best find a spot to bed down for the night nearby. And move towards a ticket, too; the Tacos & Tequila affair and the Champagne on Main party are already on sale. As for the summer-into-fall California Beer Festival? Watch this space for upcoming info (though tickets do go on sale for the Aug. 11-13 Santa Cruz festival on April 27).

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