A parking lot became a social venue June 9 when Fallbrook residents mingled at the inaugural Party Off the Grid, a fundraiser put on by the Fallbrook Village Association.
Party Off the Grid was held at 139 South Main in the parking lot that separates the Bean & Bug Coffee Lounge and the Old 395 sports bar. A portion of Library Plaza (the large parking lot located below the Fallbrook Library parking lot) was also used to house a Kids Zone.
The parking lot was fenced off and a stage occupied the space where motorists normally enter the lot off of Main Avenue. Some travelers on Main wore a look of surprise when they spotted The Kim Anderson Band rocking out on a stage not far from the roadway.
The parking lot was turned into a beer and wine garden. Tables with umbrellas and chairs were positioned next to the buildings separated by the lot, and stand up bar tops were also used. Lights were strung between the buildings, ready for use at dusk.
The first of three Party Off the Grids – the others will be held June 23 and July 7 – attracted a respectable turnout for a debut outing, with most people arriving after 6 p.m. The event ran from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the tables and chairs were occupied for the majority of the evening.
“I think the event went real well,” said Roy Moosa, president of the Fallbrook Village Association, and a man constantly working to promote downtown Fallbrook. “It was a good first run.”
The Fallbrook Village Association conducts the popular Fallbrook Summer Nights street parties held downtown, and it was the success of those events – three are held each summer – that prompted the association to come up with Party Off the Grid, a scaled-down version of Fallbrook Summer Nights.
The Vince Ross Village Square, which is smaller than the parking lot used for Party Off the Grid, hosts the bands and serves as a beer and wine garden during Fallbrook Summer Nights.
“Because it (the rectangular parking lot) is so big, it looks like, wow, there’s still a lot of empty space, but if you visualize that same amount of people in the Village Square, it would have been packed,” said Moosa, who estimated that the crowd in the beer and wine garden for Party Off the Grid fluctuated between 100 and 150 throughout the evening.
Those in attendance listened and danced to southern rock tunes belted out by The Kim Anderson Band – a group consisting of four Fallbrookians – while sipping on a beer (or root beer) from Fallbrook Brewing Company or a glass of wine.
While there is no charge to go into the Village Square during Fallbrook Summer Nights, there was a $5 charge for adults to enter the beer and wine garden at Party Off the Grid. However, the fee included a drink, and since drinks cost $5, it was a wash.
“This is the first time we actually charged an admission fee,” said Moosa. “It was basically to help cover our expenses. You pay $5 but you also get a drink. And if you don’t drink beer or wine, you could get root beer. Some people weren’t too happy about it (the fee) because they’re used to getting in free, but the band’s not free. The fencing, the lighting, none of that’s free. There are a lot of expenses to put these events on.
“A lot of people don’t realize, this is a fundraiser put on by the Village Association, a non-profit,” continued Moosa. “Every penny we make goes back into the community and into being able to do special events like this.”
Food vendors Caterer’s Kitchen and Firehouse Que & Brew were located just outside the beer and wine garden. Caterer’s Kitchen was offering up a chunky garden gazpacho – a refreshing cold soup that was receiving rave reviews – as well as gourmet sausages. Que & Brew presented tasty brisket sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches, both of which received nods of approval from hungry patrons.
The Kids Zone proved popular with youngsters, some of whom resembled pinballs as they ricocheted around inside a large bounce house. A giant slide also provided the kids with some thrills.
Moosa said the first Party Off the Grid went off without any incidents and that the event was getting positive reviews on social media.
“The feedback that I saw that was on Facebook was all positive,” said Moosa. “Everybody had a great time, they enjoyed it and they were grateful to see something new and different. We’re hoping that the next one will be even better as the word gets out.”
The next Party Off the Grid is Friday, June 23, and fans of jazz should note that the Shane Hill Trio will be providing the musical entertainment.