OAKLAND -- Music, food and just a little dash of politics -- it'll be all on tap at the seventh annual fall street fair in Rockridge.
The fair, known as Rockridge Out and About, which sees the popular shopping street of College Avenue closed to traffic during the afternoon of Oct. 7, is a reflection of the strong local community spirit.
"It does allow Rockridge to highlight all the things that make it such a special destination," said event organizer Karen Hester.
The fair draws a big crowd each year -- Hester expects up to 15,000 people between noon and 6 p.m. and said it was one of the larger street fairs in the city. College Avenue will be closed to traffic from Manila to Alcatraz avenues, a distance of more than a mile that includes the Rockridge BART station. The road will be lined with booths, allowing everyone from shops to local charities to show off.
"What we have is an incredible and diverse assortment of music, food, different organizations and craft booths," Hester said.
Special this year is the opening of the new BART plaza at College and Keith avenues, where a tangle of ivy and acacia trees has been replaced with native and drought-tolerant grasses. There are also decorative boulders, new terra cotta benches and a compass rose.
According to BART spokesman James K. Allison, the project received $176,000 from the BART access fund, money set aside for improvements from station parking fees. The City of Oakland contributed another $40,000, and $20,000 apiece came from merchant group the Rockridge District Association and from the Rockridge Community Planning Council to pay for a sign, lights and the compass rose.
The speeches and ribbon-cutting at 12 p.m. will be followed by crowd-pleasing zydeco and mariachi music.
"We're going to be celebrating in a really exciting way," Hester said.
Another highlight this year is due to the landmark election in Oakland's City Council district for Rockridge and Montclair, District 1. With longtime councilmember Jane Brunner not running for re-election, plenty of new faces are trying their luck and coming to Rockridge to meet the voters.
"Most of the leading candidates will be there with booths," Hester said.
But there will also be plenty for pure amusement, include the popular "Picnic in the Street," organized by specialty food shop Market Hall.
Chefs from local favorites like Oliveto, Wood Tavern, À Côté and many more will do demos and tasting on the chef's stage, while children's activities include a prize wheel, pumpkin painting and a goat petting zoo. At the cookbook exchange, bring a book to swap or make a donation to the Rockridge Public Library.
WHAT: Seventh annual Rockridge Out and About
WHEN: 12 to 6 p.m. Oct. 7
WHERE: College Avenue, which will be closed from Manila to Alcatraz avenues