Luckily, Santa Barbara is free of much of the smoke from the wildfires burning nearby, which makes this weekend’s outdoor events -- including the annual French Festival – much more pleasant!

Francophiles rejoice

The French Festival brings the best of French culture and food to Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday in Oak Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There’s more than 60 booths for shopping and food, three stages with nonstop entertainment and special activities for “les enfants.”

Oh, the food is divine: crepes, both sweet and savory; quiches of all kinds; croque monsieur; and baked goods such as napoleons, macrons, beignets, croissants, French bread and Kir Royale cupcakes. Wine and beer are also available.

There’s a stage dedicated to accordion music (quite charming in this setting) in addition to the main Moulin Rouge Stage, which features dancers from around the world: French Polynesia, West African, Cajun, cancan, ballet, tango and more. A drag show starts at 5:35 p.m. Sunday. Ooh la la! (300 W. Alamar Ave.,

'High Society'

"I Love Paris” is one of the many tuneful Cole Porter songs in the delightful musical “High Society,” presented through July 29 by the Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College in the Garvin Theatre. Based on the classic film, “The Philadelphia Story,” this romantic romp is set in a grand seaside estate in advance of a society wedding, circa 1938.

What a great excuse for catchy songs such as “Just One of Those Things,” “True Love” and “Let’s Misbehave,” in which they croon, “There’s something wild about you child, that’s so contagious, let’s be outrageous, let’s misbehave!” Tickets are $24 for Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., and $26 for Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (965-5935,

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Wine fest

Only premium wines from the Golden State are poured at the California Wine Festival held Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Chase Palm Park, just across from East Beach. But it’s not just the best of the vine, there are also regional microbreweries, top local chefs and food purveyors, and vendors selling all things related to wine. Tickets are $69 general admission, but you can get in an hour early for $90, or also get VIP treatment (admission to shaded VIP tent, reserve wines, fruit and cheeses) for $115. Friday’s Sunset Rare & Reserve Tasting, at the park’s carousel, is from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and costs $110. (

Unique art show

More than 70 very special artists show their works at Saturday’s Mental Health Arts Festival at De la Guerra Plaza, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free event showcases the talents of artists living with mental illness and celebrates the healing power of creative expression. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, jewelry, crafts, and more are on view, and many of the works are for sale. Creativity takes many forms: Live music and poetry readings are also planned. (884-8440,

Julia McHugh can be reached at