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Spirit

Madame Arcati (center, Leslie Ann Story) summons the ghost of Charles’ (Oren Skoog) departed wife Elvira (at back, ghostly, Leesa Beck) much to the dismay of his new wife Ruth (right, Courtney Schwass) in the Theatre Group at Santa Barbara City College’s production of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” running through Oct. 26 at the Garvin Theatre.

Bugs and fiddles don’t seem to have much in common, except that they both inspire celebrations this weekend in Santa Barbara. But these aren’t “bugs” in the usual sense – they are lobster!

Harbor and seafood fest

It’s “bug season!” The season for spiny lobster, called “bugs” by fishermen, is now open through March. That’s the inspiration for the free Santa Barbara Harbor and Seafood Festival, held this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sustainably caught crab, oysters, albacore, and more are also available, cooked fresh, right off the commercial fishing boats. Or dig into clam chowder, seafood tacos, sea urchin uni, paella, crepes, gumbo, crab cakes, or lobster rolls prepared by harbor restaurants.

Go aboard visiting tall ship Spirit of Dana Point, Coast Guard cutter Blackfin, and NOAA research vessel Shearwater; or visit the Maritime Museum and booths featuring other ocean and related agencies who will share their passion for the seas. Bands perform live throughout the day, and vendors offer ocean-inspired wares. (805-564-5531, www.HarborFestival.org)

Quick tip: the public is invited to sail aboard visiting tall ship Spirit of Dana Point at 3 p.m. on Saturday, but space is limited. Visit www.sbmm.org or call 805-456-8747.

Fiddle fest

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Old-Time Fiddlers Festival attracts over a hundred musicians, but they all aren’t just fiddling around. Banjos, guitars, mandolins, and other instruments are also played, and singers also welcomed. Take part or listen in on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the beautiful gardens of Goleta’s historic Stow House (304 N. Los Carneros Road).

One stage is dedicated to an open competition in which contestants perform music that must originate from 1934 or earlier. The other stage features one terrific and an All Star Hootenanny starting at 4:45 p.m.

Workshops are held throughout the day, and impromptu jam sessions spring up around the grounds. Kids love the Instrument Petting Zoo, where they can try out a wide variety of acoustic instruments. Woodstock’s pizza and Cuba’s tacos are available for purchase. Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for students, and kids under 12 are free.

The fun actually starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday with a free Old-Time Concert featuring the SLO County Stumblers, Grammy-winning fiddler, guitarist, harmonica and mouth bow player Art Rosenbaum of Athens, Georgia, and others. (www.fiddlersfestival.org)

Hauntingly hilarious “Blithe Spirit”

Fussy, cantankerous novelist Charles Condomine has a problem. He’s newly married to Ruth, but literally haunted by the ghost of his late first wife, Elvira, thanks to a visiting medium named Madame Arcati. Elvira wants Charles to join her in the afterlife, and she won’t take “no” for an answer.

Sir Noel Coward’s hilarious “Blithe Spirt” was a smash hit when it debuted in London in 1941 (record-breaking 1,997 performances) and also did well on Broadway and as a movie starring Rex Harrison. It’s now presented through Oct. 26 – almost to Halloween – in the Garvin Theatre by the Theatre Group of Santa Barbara City College. Ticket and performances details available at www.theatregroupsbcc.com.

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Julia McHugh can be reached at southon101column@yahoo.com.

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