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BEST BETS: Saturday 5/27

all day: Festival

May 25, 2000

The hip Old Town Pasadena area will be bustling with even more activity this Memorial Day weekend as Earthlink's Old Pasadena Summer Fest energizes Central Park for two days. Pony, llama and train rides; a petting zoo; face painting; a giant slide and a Ferris wheel will cater to the kids. Live entertainment will include various jazz, blues, Latin and R&B musicians as well as dancers and other performers. In addition, work by more than 100 local artists will be available for purchase, and interactive sports games will be offered at a special Sports Zone area.

* Earthlink's Old Pasadena Summer Fest, Central Park, Dayton and Fair Oaks avenues, two blocks south of Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Free admission. (626) 797-6803.

8 pm: Theater

Daniel J. Travanti heads the cast in "Old Wicked Songs," Jon Marans' drama about the volatile relationship between a Viennese voice teacher and a brash American piano prodigy. Set during Kurt Waldheim's campaign for Austria's presidency.

* "Old Wicked Songs," Old Globe Theatre, Cassius Carter Centre Stage, Simon Edison Centre for the Performing Arts, San Diego. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends July 2. $23 to $42. (619) 239-2255.

11 am: Festival

An estimated 70% of the Earth's oxygen comes from the ocean, much of it from kelp. Unfortunately, 95% of the kelp in Santa Monica Bay has been decimated by pollution, according to the environmental group Santa Monica BayKeeper. BayKeeper's fourth annual KelpFest at Santa Monica Beach celebrates the progress made in restoring this vital part of the local oceanic ecosystem. Mermaids and merbabies will greet attendees; swashbuckling pirates will strut their stuff; Samoan fire dancers and Hawaiian and Tahitian dancers and drummers will shake the earth. Other attractions will include a walk through a kelp bed with divers, kelp massages, kelp arts and projects, and environmental exhibits.

* KelpFest, on the beach where Ocean Park Boulevard meets the sand, Santa Monica. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission. (310) 305-9645.

all day: Fair

The Santa Monica Mountains will come alive with the sound of music over Memorial Day weekend. Rock 'n' roll, blues, salsa, zydeco and country will fill the air at the Topanga Days Country Fair as visitors stroll through an arts and crafts area. Contests, including a lemon-eating competition, and children's entertainment and activities will also contribute to the family fun. There will be a Will Geer Memorial Parade at 9 a.m. Monday.

* Topanga Days Country Fair, Topanga Community House, 1440 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. Saturday-Monday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. $6; seniors, $3; under age 12, free. (310) 455-1980.

7:30 & 10 pm: Pop Music

Even amid today's glut of literate and imaginative singer-songwriters, Kansas product Freedy Johnston stands out as an exemplar of song craft and emotional edge. He's in between albums now, so expect to hear some from his latest, "Blue Days, Black Nights," and a possible taste of works in progress.

* Freedy Johnston, McCabe's, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Saturday, 7:30 and 10 p.m.; Sunday, 8 p.m. $15. (310) 828-4403.

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Freebies: Guitarist Joyce Cooling, 83-year-old violin legend Johnny Frigo and others appear at Playboy Jazz in Central Park, part of the Old Pasadena Summer Fest (see Summer Fest best bet at left), at Central Park, Dayton and Fair Oaks avenues, Pasadena. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Also Sunday with Poncho Sanchez, others, and Monday with the Braxton Brothers, others. (310) 449-4070.

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Two film programs will screen as part of the "Documental: The Documentary and Experimental Film and Video Series" at the Midnight Special Bookstore, 1318 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica. (310) 393-2923. The 7 p.m. program includes the documentary "They Were Not Silent: The Jewish Labor Movement and Holocaust," and the 9 p.m. program includes Todd Sali's experimental documentary "The Nathen Experience."

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