Will it survive? Oakland First Fridays festival needs community help as money runs dry

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, September 8, 2022
Running out of money, Oakland First Fridays may come to an end
Organizers of Oakland First Fridays festival are looking to the community for help as they may only have enough money to last a couple more months.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly every month over the past 10 years, the First Fridays Festival has become a cultural staple in the city of Oakland.

But that might soon be coming to an end, as festival organizers say they only have enough money to last a few more months.

"I would say maybe about three months roughly. Maybe if we can do some certain things," festival coordinator Greg Harris said.

He says this October would have been their last month had it not been for a series of donations from local businesses.

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But Harris warns that money is not enough to keep up long-term with the spiraling cost of operation.

"It costs maybe about $45,000 to run a First Friday with all the actual increasing of bills," Harris said.

Among supplies and other things, Harris says security costs are especially expensive.

Since the festival is run by a nonprofit, OPD protection isn't provided for free by the city.

"It has not been cheap at all," Harris said.

In order to try and save First Fridays, organizers have turned to the community.

A GoFundMe page has been created to try and keep funds coming in.

"Every nickel and dime we get, we really rely on to try and keep the festival going," Harris said.

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Harris says the event is important to keep around not just for those in attendance, but also for the vendors.

Many of the vendors are small, minority business owners and up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

"We've been allowing or starting new businesses that didn't have any idea, they were just an idea in someone's mind, now they've become a brick and mortar which is awesome to see them grow," Harris said.

So ahead of next month's event, Harris is encouraging everyone to come and pay a visit and experience everything that a 'First Friday' in Oakland has to offer.

"Come out and enjoy life and help us continue this lively celebration," Harris said. "It's a wonderful situation and a wonderful place to be."

If you would like to donate, you can do so here.

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