OAKLAND — The community came out in full force for one of the final First Fridays of the year in Oakland.
For years, thousands of attendees go to Telegraph Avenue in Oakland on the First Friday of each month for music, food, art, and community.
The festival, which began in 2006, supports more than 60 vendors and small businesses. But the organization recently announced that it has run out of money to keep it going all of next year.
It costs about $45,000 each month to put on the street fair and the organization said it is short about $100,000.
They will close from January through March 2024 and will work on securing new funding during the break.
“The cost of the event has continued to rise faster than we can adjust to, and then with the construction of the bike lanes, we’ve lost nearly $10,000 in revenue. So, we have to figure out how we can recoup that,” said Oakland First Fridays account manager Venessa McGhee.
Adi Pirzada, who owns jewelry shop Zeba, has had a booth there for the last 7 years.
“Definitely not great feelings. because this is one of the best events that I do. And I like to come here every month, and as you can see, it’s busy for me. And as a small business owner, this helps a lot,” he said.
Pirzada sells jewelry made at a workshop in his homeland of India.
“This is an important market of the month definitely. Because this is what pays, doing all these shows pays my bills and not having one of the strong events is definitely going to have an effect.” he added.
Former Oakland resident Ymna Negm used to be a regular attendee.
“This was like my Friday. I look forward to it every month I would come here,” said Negm. “I feel like it’s such a Bay Area culture thing. I love the food. I feel like it’s a community event as well.”
“It’s really nice, it reminds me of home. So, I’m from Alabama, and we’ll have a First Fridays art walk, said Kelishia King.
Pirzada sets up a different festivals and fairs around the Bay Area. But he doesn’t yet have a plan for covering the expected losses.
“I don’t know. We’ll try to find other events,” he said.
Organizers said First Fridays will return April 2024, whether they come up with the money.