BERKELEY SOUTH SIDE TALES
by Steed Dropout
Sept. 1, 2015
THE LITTLE FAIR THAT COULD
Sundays on Telegraph is a struggle in progress.
Past fairs have started small in first weekends, but morphed into major events. Not so this
Facing a funding failure this year, fair planners adopted a coping strategy. As one planner told me, “we just want to show our brand this year.”
During the fair’s six week of Sundays, which ended August 30, it nevertheless built to a Custer’s Last Stand, its sausage vendor sandwiched between Berkeley’s most famous vacant lot and a sidewalk etching: “Running Mouth Out of Peoples Park,” and the Peoples Park Mural. Running Mouth refers to Running Wolf, a Berkeley Blackfeet Indian.
The Blackfeet didn’t attack Custer (they weren’t even there), if you really want know about it.
Huddled at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, on its final week, the struggling fair representsTelegraph Avenue vendors and business and property owners’ battle to restore the luster and commerce of what event organizer Janet Klein called “block four,” From Bancroft Way to Dwight Way is four blocks.
Block four was once Berkeley’s center, featuring Cody’s Books, the 1916 Sequoia Apartments, a cafe with the tallest salad in the world, and a contested empty lot which was once a hotel for roaches and mice, hippies, and beatnik poets.
That this center is about to be reborn made Telegraph/Haste a good retreat spot to stage the little fair that could. Cody’s is becoming a book store again (also, vinyl records) and a performance stage for authors’ talks and open mike, while re-construction of the New Sequoia Apartments with its tall salads and pub is soaring upwards licketey-split.
Event organizer Klein was passing out printed tour guides of Telegraph (a first) from her booth facing the Peoples Park Mural.
WingSpot, a food-truck of spicy chicken wings staged a two hour freebie wing-out which drew a continuous line of wing nuts.
Musicians entertained up and down Telegraph.
The little fair that could–could be the start of something big next year.
More photos at Berkboy Flickr Photostream