Oakland First Friday Food and Arts Festival returns in person on Telegraph

Oakland’s beloved First Fridays will return on Friday in person to feature local performers and food vendors for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Masks will not be mandatory during the outdoor event, although they are highly recommended. The monthly community and arts festival that has typically attracted 30,000 people on Telegraph Avenue between West Grand and 27th Street, will feature live music by local artists, a fashion show and artwork.

“After a long time away from our beloved community, we are back and ready for a COVID safe reunion on October 1!” The website states.

The popular event returns after dealing with a pandemic that has caused region-wide closures and clearance issues.

The festival began in 2006, when neighborhood galleries began hosting a monthly art walk. Eventually, crowds took to the streets. The event has become one of Oakland’s biggest cultural attractions.

Now up to 50 food vendors are working the festival.

And a 2017 poll found that 81% of event attendees are people of color.

Over the summer, festival organizers said they were meeting with city officials to discuss the high police fees they are being forced to pay. In July, The Chronicle reported that the Oakland Police Department was charging the festival $ 24,000 to send 45 officers to each event. The fees were one of the reasons the festival didn’t return this summer, according to KQED.

Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kaplan helped organizers find a corporate sponsor, DoorDash, to pay for the policing fee at the event in October, KQED reported.

Sarah Ravani is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SarRavani

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Reggie S. Williams