Sept. 14 2011 03:12 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

1. Get out the vote 

Occasionally, CityBeat likes to highlight an “eat your vegetables” event, an informative lecture or a town-hall meeting where you’ll expand your mind and learn about the issues affecting your community.

Politifest is not that wilted-spinach event. The half-day festival on Saturday, Sept. 17, is a square meal—nay, a full-course, potluck smorgasbord of meaty issues and activities related to civic engagement. If you give a crap about anything—such as the La Jolla seals, cannabis policy, suicide prevention or Tea Party-style government overhaul—you’ll find an opportunity to get involved at one of the 70 booths run by nonprofit organizations, political groups and media outlets (including us).

Plus, the heady stuff will be balanced out by a beer garden (from Stone Brewing), food trucks, zoo animals, live music, a dunk tank, an inflatable castle (sponsored by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, no less) and a bouncy horse race.

“So many political events are in hotels, banquet halls or Rotary Clubs—places you don’t necessarily want to go,” says Scott Lewis, CEO of, which organized the event. “This is a place where everybody can bring their family and do more than watch a performance of some kind. They can interact with other people who care about San Diego public affairs.”

At the heart of the event is the first San Diego mayoral debate, featuring top-tier candidates Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher and Congressmember Bob Filner, as well as a medley of lesser-known hopefuls. As exciting as that will be, Lewis says he’s more amped up for the Idea tournament, an American Idol-style challenge in which local thinkers can present their city solutions to a panel of judges until the best few make it to the top.

The event is free, and so is parking. Politifest runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside at Ingram Plaza (Historic Decatur and Roosevelt roads in Liberty Station), with the mayoral debate starting at 10:30 a.m.

2. Eat, drink and ride

El Cajon Boulevard is not just a place for hookers and chicken pot pies anymore. There are great venues and events that encourage exploration of the area, like Bike the Boulevard, happening from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. The ride kicks off at Til-Two Club (4746 El Cajon Blvd.), where there’ll be a free barbecue before departure, and stops at four locations: Soda Bar (3519 El Cajon Blvd.) will have a Street Fighter tournament, then riders will head to new grog-and-grub spot Tiger!Tiger! (3025 El Cajon Blvd.). Afterwards, the Lafayette Hotel (2223 El Cajon Blvd.) will host a pool party with DJ Grand Masta Rats. The ride caps off with free pizza from Pizzeria Luigi at Live Wire (2103 El Cajon Blvd).

3. Asian invasion 

The Asian-American community doesn’t have a very high profile in the entertainment industry, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of artists to choose from—as will be clear at the AMP Music Festival, which goes down at Market Creek Plaza (404 Euclid Ave. in Lincoln Park) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Organized by Silk Road Productions and the Asian Business Association of San Diego, the festival will feature 28 Asian-American artists on two stages, including local electro-pop band 321 Stereo, Korean-American rapper Shin-B and Bay Area YouTube sensation Jennifer Chung. There will be food, a Singha-sponsored beer garden and interactive media booths, and all ticket proceeds will fund arts scholarships that’ll be awarded at the event. $30; $20 pre-sale.