East Richmond Heights shines at Saturday Fest

East Richmond Heights shines at Saturday Fest
All photos from festival by Kathy Chouteau

By Kathy Chouteau

The beauty of the East Richmond Heights neighborhood and its people were on full display Saturday when residents and the local Gyuto Foundation Buddhist monastery collaborated to host the “2022 East Richmond Heights Art & Music Festival.”

An array of hyper-local artisan and food vendors, musical entertainment and other amusements came together to make the Fest’s fourth return a truly unique and memorable one.

One highlight of the Saturday gathering occurred at high noon underneath the sprawling “Sweet Performance Tree” on the neighborhood’s Bernhard Avenue when the Fest kicked off with a special blessing by three of the monastery’s Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Relevant to all people and persuasions, the blessing evoked an overriding message of peace, love and tolerance and set the tone for the day’s festivities.

Artisans like East Richmond Heights’ resident and photographer Alan Krakauer wowed the crowd with his nature photography that included stunning images from nearby Wildcat Canyon. Others, like Carolyn and Tom Crosby of Cosas FMB, drew in shoppers with their vibrantly colored Ecuadorian handicrafts, among them, jewelry created from tagua nuts. Anne Wolf and Sarah Sirchuck’s mini-succulent garden, Mark Conrad’s steel bells and Lauri La Pointe’s handmade jewelry and magnets all added to the many local talents on display.

A makeshift pickleball court for quick tries of the sport—and coordinated by Darlene Drapkin—was a multigenerational hit among festivalgoers. Another hit, especially for the younger set, was the Kona Ice food truck parked on Bernhard Ave., where color-changing cups, lei necklaces and a wide-ranging flavor bar drew in crowds of littles for a sweet treat.

Also underneath the Sweet Performance Tree, musicians took to the stage, including blues tunes by Leonard Sweet and friends and guitarist and vocalist Peter Josheff—to name a few.

All the while, the Gyuto monastery’s rambling grounds welcomed festivalgoers for a peaceful break and leisurely stroll amid Wildcat Canyon views that were a feast for the senses. Together with the monastery, festival founder Natalie Kniess worked with Joanna Pace and Justin Katz to organize this year’s event—by all indications, a truly successful one.