by Ken Katz
C. J. Hirschfield’s December 2020 homage to the early years of the Festival at the Lake is a gift that keeps on giving. For starters, thanks in part to our sharing a link on the Oakland History Facebook page, it’s the best-read and most heavily commented on article we’ve ever published. More importantly, in the process of searching online for photos, we managed to connect with Don Asher, whose company, Golden Gate Print and Media Services, printed festival posters from 1991 through 1997. This past week, Don emailed us to report that his company was downsizing and that he had 174 original posters to donate to us.
The timing was exquisite as we’re in the very early stages of planning for infrastructure improvements to the park leading up to its 20th anniversary in October. The Agricultural Institute of Marin has already made a commitment to raise funds to replace the eroded gravel beds with something more permanent–most likely concrete or pavers. Tentatively, the posters will either be sold outright or offered in exchange for donations, but all the details will be in the hands of an anniversary planning committee that’s yet to be established.Replacing the gravel beds happened to be one of the items discussed during a tour of the Farmers Market on January 8. Participants included Agricultural Institute of Marin CEO Andy Naja-Riese and Chief Financial and Operations Officer Tanya Wolf. This was also an opportunity to honor Jerry Barclay, who is resigning after years of service as the Chair of the Farmers Market Citizens Advisory Committee. In addition, it was an opportunity for the new Chief of Staff for Councilmember Bas, Cinthya Muñoz Ramos, to meet everybody involved and hear about some of the unique challenges involved in operating a large public event in a park environment. We were all delighted to have Walter Hood, the landscape architect who designed the park, in attendance. Walter’s staff will be providing further input regarding the choice of materials and the requirements for proper installation.
If you were at the Farmers Market on January 22, you may have seen Mary Jo Sutton, the park’s Native Plant Guru, digging weeds and recruiting volunteers for the Grand Crew’s 4th Sundays volunteer work days. It appears that those efforts were successful as a total of nine volunteers (including Jennifer Rose from Arise Yoga) showed up the following morning and got tons of work done. If you’d like to volunteer for the next work day on February 27 (and/or subsequent work days), please email Mary Jo and ask to be added to her email list.
Ken Katz founded the Splash Pad Neighborhood Forum in late 1999 and, in his role as Chair, coordinated the community efforts to lobby for a new park and subsequently served as a liaison to the City of Oakland and to Walter Hood’s office during the planning process. The first Splash Pad Newsletters were emailed beginning circa 2006. Currently, he acts as a contributor to—and publisher of—the monthly Splash Pad News. Keila Diehl proofreads all the copy, filters content as needed, and makes everyone involved look good.