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A youngster raises his fist in appreciation at last year's Main Street SOULstice event, which features live music, food and sales at boutiques. This year's event is Sunday, and it's free to attend. (photo by Main Street Merchants Association)

MAIN STREET — More than 15 live bands will rock Main Street this Sunday during the 12th annual Summer SOULstice event, which combines music, food and shopping.

“Rock the SOULstice” is the theme for the all-ages, free event intended to celebrate the official beginning of summer, according to the Main Street Business Improvement Association, which is putting on the event.

“[It] presents effective family time and it kicks off the summer feel here on Main Street,” said Christina Norton, chair of the event committee and manager of the boutique Agabhumi: The Best of Bali.

The Main Street Santa Monica website (www.mainstreetsm.com/), which provides details on the event such as band performance times, included that SOULstice is the largest free music event on the Westside.

“There is a wonderful diversity of music at all the stages,” Gary Gordon, executive director of the association, said.

Bands performing include Good Cop Bad Cop, Deep Soul Fusion and Helios Jive. Live music will begin at 1 p.m. and last until 7 p.m.

“This is our fourth or fifth year performing, and we’ve been really excited that they’ve continued to have us back,” Helios Jive member Paul Newman said. “It’s one of our favorite events.”

Tourists and locals alike can enjoy food from local venders and listen to great music among a really fun — usually sunny — atmosphere, Newman said.

Although the event is primarily a music scene, Gordon said, there are other activities, including a kids activities area and a merchant tent city, as well as a two-day sidewalk sale that starts Saturday at 11 a.m.

The kids’ activities area will be located on Hollister Avenue, east of Main Street, and will include a rock climbing wall, a bounce house, a Santa Monica Fire Department fire truck and the Santa Monica Police Department talking police car, Gordon said.

There will also be games and additional activities in the area from 11 a.m. — 5 p.m., organizers said.

“It should be pretty exciting,” Gordon said.

This year the association received grants from City Hall and the Buy Local Campaign, and the event has more than 10 sponsors, including the Santa Monica Daily Press, organizers said.

Donations from sponsors — which are more generous this year than donations from the past two years — allowed the kids’ activities area to be more prominent in the event, Gordon said.

Approximately 12 Main Street merchants will have booths at the merchant tent city in the Barcopa parking lot, across from sponsor Wildflour Pizza, according to the Main Street Santa Monica website.

Local businesses on Main Street, including Agabhumi, will be having specials and sales for the event this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. — 7 p.m.

“People on the street love the sidewalk sales,” said Norton. “[Agabhumi] has a summer markdown in celebration of the sale.”

Stores participating in the sidewalk sale are listed on the Main Street Santa Monica website.

“It’s my favorite day of the year,” Norton said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

news@smdp.com