By Mike Kinney
Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia is one of many local residents impressed at the swift growth of the 3rd Annual East Richmond Heights Arts & Music Festival, which took place Saturday.
“It’s amazing how this new festival attracts hundreds and become so popular in just 3 years,” he reported on social media Saturday while attending the festival.
The secret to its success? All the fixings for a really good time, and a really special location.
This past Saturday’s festival, which lined two blocks of Bernhard Avenue in front of the Gyuto Foundation Tibetan Monastary, featured oodles of art, a unique entertainment stage and activities for the whole family from noon to 5:30 p.m. Located under a huge, 45-year-old tree, the lengthy list of local entertainment included folk diva Eileen Hazel, a former East Richmond Heights resident, and, of course, Elm Street Blues Band, the neighborhood-based group which performed an electrifying set.
There were over 25 numerous arts and crafts booths and food stands, and also a miniature model train for both kids and adults to ride by the Golden Gate Live Streamers based out of Tilden Park in Berkeley.
“It’s always a nice event for the local community, how people come together and celebrate this event. It was simply a lovely community event with great music,” said artist and neighborhood resident Linda Ruiz-Lozito, one of many artists showcasing their works at the festival. “Plus they had really great specialty food like Puerto Rican & Tibetan-Himalayan dishes. It was a wonderful time for everybody who attended and the weather cooperated to make it a nice sunny day.”
Hazel, a former resident of the neighborhood, said its spiritual location has a lot to do with the success of both East Richmond Heights and its growing festival.
“It’s a very sweet neighborhood festival that I’ve been coming to since it started,” said Hazel, who used to live in the neighborhood. “I used to walk by here all the time, walk by this beautiful monastery…and walk around the grounds and go into the temple. It’s such a deep spiritual place. We’re right next to Wildcat Canyon, also a great place of nature and beauty.”
As Armando Epifani told us prior to Saturday, the young festival is the product a close-knit community that “has the ability to come together.”
“This event really means a lot to our neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a place where people can share their passion with our community…where everybody can kick back in the summertime weather and just relax. They can enjoy great music and food.”
See you next year.