OAKLAND -- It's October, and it's time for Oaktoberfest in the Dimond district.
Preparations are under way for the district's fifth annual popular Oaktoberfest from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6 at Macarthur Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue.
"We are celebrating what is good about the neighborhood," said Daniel Swafford, Oaktoberfest's founder and managing director.
"It started out as a big community block party," said Matthew Lonergan, the chairman of Oaktoberfest's planning committee. "Oaktoberfest is very tangible way to let people know that the Dimond is great."
About 5,000 people attended the event during the first year, and the numbers have been climbing ever since. The committee is expecting as many as 15,000 people this year to join in the festivities.
Oaktoberfest is hosted by a partnership between the Dimond Improvement Association and the Dimond Business and Professional Association. The groups are also working closely with the Dimond Recreation Center to sponsor games and activities for young and old alike.
The purpose of the event is to celebrate and foster a sense of community as well as to bring together many of the local businesses and community groups, Swafford said.
Proceeds from the event will go toward community development projects within the district.
"It's not a traditional Oktoberfest: get a beer, sausage and repeat," Lonergan said.
While there is plenty of beer at the festival, the committee has worked hard to maintain the family-friendly atmosphere of the event. There will be a root beer garden as well as a climbing wall, a DJ, dancing and a variety of games for children.
The event will also feature music from the area's artists. At 3 p.m., there will be a dance battle showcasing street dancing throughout time.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Dimond resident Renee Miller. "I love the music, the beer and the sausages. Besides, it's in the community that I live in. I see a lot of my neighbors that I don't see all the time. It's definitely community-building."
Oaktoberfest celebrates the past as well as the present communities in the Dimond. The district was once home to one of the largest German communities in the area. In the early years of the 20th century, the neighborhood was dotted with beer gardens.
"The seed for the festival was planted with the grand opening of Farmer Joe's Marketplace. The return of a big anchor store to the Dimond district created a lot of optimism in a neighborhood which had fallen into disrepair," Swafford said.
But nowadays, "Oaktoberfest isn't just a German thing. It's an Oakland thing," Lonergan said. He said the festival celebrates Oakland's diversity.
For more information about Oaktoberfest, visit www.oaktoberfest.org.