The day before the Ninth Annual Grrl Fair was set to happen March 6 in Santa Ana, organizers learned their event would be shut down by code enforcement and the threat of the Santa Ana Police Department.
"Grrl Fair has been running since 2002 and in Santa Ana since 2004," says a Grrl Fair organizer who requested to remain anonymous. "No one has ever asked us for anything. Permits have never been an issue."
This year was different.
A Santa Ana city official has informed the Weekly that the 511 Creative Space, where the event was scheduled to occur, was issued a warning Feb. 26. According to the city, the multi-use venue for rent falls within its M1 manufacturing zone designation and the organizers needed a land-use certificate in order to have an indoor/outdoor event.
The Grrl Fair organizers learned of the warning a day before the event was scheduled to take place. "Anything having to do with the city of Santa Ana is difficult and expensive," says the Grrl Fair representative.
In the end, culture and clothing store Calacas in Santa Ana came to the rescue same night event was scheduled to take place and hosted most of the bands, including Santa Ana's own Teen Rex. "I was really grateful that Calacas stood by Grrl Fair and allowed us to have a voice," says lead singer Darla Diggs. "I was really proud of my fellow fems and how they managed to still find a way to make it happen."
Inside the store's cramped quarters, as rain down poured in the evening, young people held on to their confusion and anger over what had happened, but at least still had the music to express it all. "Regardless of what happened this year, we will continue to serve our community by running our event," Grrl Fair maintains. "That us, of course, providing everything is in order, we are more than happy to cooperate with whatever the city and police department's requirements are."
She added, in regard to next year's 10th anniversary, "Grrl Fair is growing and we are just trying to catch up [by] 2011, we will be ready."
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MARCH 5:
The Ninth Annual Grrl Fair that Summer Twins and seven other female powered local bands were scheduled to play tomorrow in Santa Ana--which we just wrote about--has been shut down!
The administrator of the MySpace page for the event posted an angry bulletin today at 3:45 p.m alerting potential Grrl Fair goers of the following: "DEAREST LADIES, GERMS, BANDS, ARTISTS, VOLUNTEERS, SUPPORTERS, LOVERS, HATERS... WE RECEIVED NOTICE THIS AFTERNOON THAT BOTH THE CITY OF SANTA ANA ANNNNND THE SANTA ANA POLICE DEPARTMENT HAVE SHUT US DOWN."
Corporal Press Information Officer Anthony Vertagna informed the Weekly of the Santa Ana Police Department's take, saying: "This is about city code enforcement. This is an unauthorized event. Whatever permits or requirements our city code enforcements call for, they did not meet. At this point, this is not a law enforcement issue. If they choose to have the event, then it will be and we would be required to act."
The Grrl Fair collective responded: "When it comes down to it, it's just unfair. For the past nine years, we've pretty much provided a soapbox for Santa Ana's female youth who don't have anywhere else go. Everything is male dominated, and it's hard for any female to be taken seriously and this just proves it. And for what? Just because we can't provide the city with profits from the event?"
Pending a new venue to host Grrl Fair, the status of the event is effectively canceled.