Oakland’s very own festival is finally back. After a two year shut down, the city looks to bring back life and joy with the return of First Fridays.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
It’s no question that the Bay Area has a rich culture. From Berkeley to Oakland and San Francisco, we are neighbors to some of the most unique cities. Just a BART ride away, we have access to the fast pace of Powell Street or the beauty of Lake Merritt. However, one of the most exclusive and popular events the Bay Area is known for only takes place once a month.
Oakland First Fridays is a community event hosted by and for the people of Oakland. Every first Friday of the month, Oakland residents gather at Telegraph Avenue to support local businesses and artists. From food booths, painted canvases, and live music, First Fridays are seen as a festival that uplifts the greatness within our very own communities.
First Fridays became a hit since its first debut in 2011. As popularity grew, the Korean/Northgate Community Benefit District (KONO) acknowledged the importance of the event and took over its operations in 2014. Since then, the community has dedicated every first Friday of the month to their neighbors. This festival looks to break the barriers between local small businesses and their customers. In an era where Prime Delivery and e-commerce exist, small businesses find it difficult to compete with giant corporations. First Fridays give local businesses the chance to showcase their work, all while making genuine connections with their community. Organizers prioritize Oakland-based businesses to ensure each booth is filled with entrepreneurs from the host city. Community-wide initiatives also take place by encouraging event-goers to participate in food, toy, clothing drives, and much more.
The monthly event is one of the most important events the city offers. Not only is it such a special experience, but it keeps the city thriving. With over thousands attending every month, money spent from event guests goes directly back into the community. The past two years of the pandemic heavily impacted marginalized communities like Oakland. First Fridays have become a cornerstone for entrepreneurs and artists to connect and grow their brands. Investing in these businesses reassures them that the city supports their craft and hard work.
If you still need plans for this Friday, round up your group of friends and head over to Telegraph Avenue! Festivities begin at 5 PM and go until 9 PM. The event is free to everyone: just walk up and join the party. You’ll be able to shop for unique crafts and goods, enjoy live entertainment and view art pieces throughout the night. Don’t miss out on this special event and be fully immersed in the rich culture Oakland has.
Directions from campus:
For up-to-date information, follow @oakfirstfridays on Instagram.
To learn more about the event and initiatives head to oaklandfirstfridays.org. There, you can also sign up to be a vendor, performer, or volunteer. You’ll also be able to find the online merchandise shop and gofundme to directly support the event.
Melanie Moyer '22,