Oakland Art & Soul Festival promising to be biggest yet

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Preparations for Oakland's Art and Soul Festival were in full swing Friday and not just for a party -- the biggest party in Oakland.

Oakland is getting ready for its biggest festival of the year. The Art and Soul Festival begins Saturday and thousands will be downtown for the festivities. Preparations were in full swing Friday and not just for a party -- the biggest party in Oakland.

The festival promises to be bigger and better than ever. "We're going to transform the main stage area and the Clay Street area. Those streets are all going to become a big dance hall, outdoor dance hall," said Art and Soul Executive Producer Samee Roberts.

Roberts is the woman behind Art and Soul. The streets around City Hall were closed just after 9 a.m. Friday so crews could start the marathon task of building a space worthy of hosting thousands. The festival is more than a party. It's also an invitation.

The restaurant Crossburgers sits in the heart of Frank Ogawa Plaza. Normally closed on weekends, chef and owner Eddie Blyden believes the festival will provide an opportunity of new success -- new people, new faces and new customers. "You know, if I can see a hundred, two, three-hundred new faces, new faces, because I know there will be a lot of regulars coming in, that would be it," he told ABC7 News.

The festival carries the additional weight of being a symbol of Oakland's vibrant art, soul and music scene. Sarah Kidder is the director of Oakland's First Friday and says many of the people that go to Art and Soul will start their weekend with First Friday. Both events help to highlight Oakland. "Well we have some of the best food, the coolest art, best weather, and we have parking," she said.
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