Temescal, Juneteenth Festivals This Weekend By CASSIE NORTON

Friday June 17, 2005

Two East Bay street fairs celebrating local and national history and showcasing regional artists, musicians, and businesses are taking place this weekend. 

From noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday the Temescal Street Fair offers the opportunity to see and hear performers on two outdoor stages. Local merchants, craft, and community booths will line Telegraph Avenue between 51st and 48th Streets in Oakland. 

“It’s a celebration of community,” organizer Karen Hester said. “It came about because the neighborhood wanted to see a street fair. With help from the local merchants it all came together.” 

This is the second year for the fair. Last year was “tremendous success” with more than 5,000 attendees, according to organizer Kenny Mosttern.  

Due in part to last year’s turnout, a children’s stage has been added this year. It will feature Jeremy the Juggler, the Mixcoatl Anahuac Aztec Dancers, Madame Ovary, Opera Piccolo and the Oakland Library book mobile, among others. Entertainers on the main stage include the Stairwells Sisters, La Familia, and performances from the Aikido Institute. 

Destiny Arts, a violence prevention center for children ages 3 to 18 located in the neighborhood, will present an original piece by The Destiny Arts Youth Performance Group on the main stage. The group combines theater, dance and martial arts to educate children about violence prevention. They collaborate annually with professional performance artists to create a new and unique experience, executive director Sarah Crowell said. Saturday’s presentation is a 15-minute selection from the most recent piece, titled “Tomorrow is Today.” 

Also appearing on the main stage is the international Caribbean music group Junglz Apart. The group is lead by resident Tony D., owner of The International Caribbean One Stop Music Entertainment Center, which “houses everything needed to take an artist from concept to finished product.” 

In addition to the musical performances and the arts and crafts booths, a section of the fair is dedicated to the work of local fine artists, and a food court will offer food and beverages from local restaurants, including pizza and beer from Lanesplitter Pub. 

“It’s an opportunity for the residents and larger community to celebrate the Temescal,” Hester said. 

If that’s not enough local color and community, the following day is Berkeley’s annual Juneteenth Festival. 

On June 19, 1865, the Union troops reached Galveston, Texas, with news of the end of the Civil War. Citizens and heard for the first time of the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the law declaring all persons free of the bonds of slavery.  

Celebrations commemorating that day are called “Juneteenth” and are observed across the country. This year Berkeley marks the day with its nineteenth annual street fair on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. between Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue. 

Described as “a fun day, a family day,” by committee chairperson Sam Dyke, the festival features local artists, craftsmen and musicians. It is an alcohol-free event sponsored by the city of Berkeley. Vendors from non-profit organizations are a special part of the festivities, and with 20,000 people at last year’s festival, Dyke calls it a “kind of Christmas in June for the restaurants and merchants.” 

“It’s really just a good day for everyone,” he said. 

Like the Temescal street fair, Juneteenth boasts two stages, one for adults and one aimed at children. The main stage will host local groups Aceba and the Park Place Blues Band, but the biggest draw might be to the youth stage for “American Idol” semi-finalist Donnie Williams from Livermore. 

For more information on the Temescal Street Fair, call 593-9831. For the Juneteenth Festival, call 655-8008.