TASTE OF SOUL: It's often said that classic soul food dishes are best enjoyed among friends, family, and others around a communal table. That table welcomes thousands of convivial cuisine fans when Taste of Soul returns each autumn, bringing with it loads of live tunes, kidly activities, and so much excellent food (buffalo chicken funnel cakes and greens-and-meats pairings galore are some of the goodies). Queen Latifah was recently announced as the festival's first celebrity chair. Happy 9th, Taste of Soul, and see you on Crenshaw on Saturday, Oct. 18.
INTERFAITH BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: With 300 beasties showing up at 1 Granada in Long Beach -- horses, dogs, cats, and hedgehogs among 'em -- this annual gathering is the largest in the nation (to take place on or near St. Francis's Day). It all goes down at sunset, making the scene as pretty as all get-out, and many of the animals are festively attired. Want some kind words for your sweet creature? Be there on Sunday, Oct. 19.
PINT-SIZED BEER FESTIVAL: A quartet of Southern California breweries -- Angel City Brewery, Eagle Rock Brewery, Golden Road Brewing, and Highland Park Brewing -- are teaming up, tap-to-tap-style, to support The Keep a Breast Foundation, an organization that seeks "to eradicate breast cancer for future generations." There'll be eight top-notch beers in all -- each brewery is showing in the Angel City parking lot with two -- and the funds help this fine, youth-directed cause. Sunday, Oct. 19.
What to do, where to go and what to see
SEA FARE: The Aquarium of the Pacific is generally a pretty come-as-you-are and fancy-the-fishes kind of place, except on this swanker night. It's a fundraiser for the LBC institution, yes, and you can have a crack at naming one of the new penguin chicks, via the auction. An open bar, live music, and "dancing with the fish" -- we hear they're incredibly coordinated and charming partners -- fill out the festive happening. Saturday, Oct. 18.
PUMPKIN FESTIVALS: Whether you head east or west matters not over the coming weekend, because one sight will greet you: gourds. Many, many gourds, in fact, as two of SoCal's longest running pumpkin parties pumpkin up their respective cities. The Calabasas conviviality boasts a patch, natch, and food and live music. Dates? Oct. 18 and 19. And over in Pomona, which throws its pumpkin bash over the same dates? It's year 22, there's corn and munchy things to each, and the oh-so-loved Insect Fair. Don't let it bug ya, though.