Don’t miss the Dia De Los Muertos festival in Fruitvale on Sunday

I have this friend who’s always making fun of my affinity for what he calls “19th century entertainment.” For him, parades, fireworks, and festivals are a relic of a time when people didn’t have the internet, cable TV, or Wiis to entertain them. I think that’s sad.

I love parades. I love fireworks. And, OMG, do I love festivals. A family friendly good time isn’t always the easiest thing to find in Oakland, and a festival offers that. And particularly in a city like Oakland, which often feels incredibly fragmented, so full of all these huge, wildly different groups of people whose lives somehow never manage to intersect, events that draw a citywide audience are just so refreshing. And in years like this, where so many people are struggling so deeply, and the torrent of bad, then worse, then even worse news often seems just endless, the totally free good time offered by these sorts of community celebrations becomes even more essential. Plus, how can you not love it any time major streets are blocked off from cars?

Anyway, Oakland has a fair number of festivals. But the Dia De Los Muertos festival in Fruitvale is easily one of my favorites all year. It’s so heartwarming to see so many children and families all over the place, having such a wonderful time. They’ve got rides for the kids, and they’re got all this music, and of course great food everywhere, and while I’m personally not all that big on crafts, well, they’ve got tons of those too.

But what sets this one apart from like every other festival in Oakland for me (besides the size, of course) is the color. I just love being surrounded by all these bright, cheery, vibrant colors, just everywhere you turn. The sounds, the smells, and, the colors, oh, the colors, just make for such a rich sensory experience. If you haven’t been before, you just have to go on Sunday.

And to give you a sense of what you’ve been missing, check out the photos below of previous festivals, mined from Flickr.


gwen on flickr



Tim in sanhazzay on flickr



jrbrubaker on flickr



jen_masier on flickr



g.p. macklin on flickr



gwen on flickr



Lydiat on flickr



gwen on flickr



jen_masier on flickr


So do yourself a favor, hop on the 1, and spend a little bit of your Sunday in Fruitvale this weekend (the festival takes place along International Boulevard between Fruitvale Avenue and 35th Avenue, and runs from 10 AM to 5 PM). Relish the color, the crowds, the altars, the food, and the music, and remember how lucky you are to live in such an incredible, vibrant, exciting city.

And if you bring your camera, be sure to submit your photos to the Fruitvale Dia De Los Muertos 2009 Flickr group, so everyone who couldn’t make it will be able to see afterwards just how much they missed out.

8 thoughts on “Don’t miss the Dia De Los Muertos festival in Fruitvale on Sunday

  1. Kevin Cook

    You haven’t, but puppet shows fall into the same category of stuff that was entertaining before movies and now inexplicably still attracts some people.

  2. gwen

    and HEY. there are a bunch of other local Dia de los Muertos events listed on my site, http://ofrenda.org !

    and HEY. call me when you’re out there, I’d love to hook up for a bit, it’s been too long.

    and HEY. happy birthday!

  3. Patrick

    Technically, motion pictures are 19th Century entertainment. As is horse racing, shopping, regattas, football, baseball, tennis, gambling, dining out, going to a bar and having sex.

    Anyone who wouldn’t enjoy a day in the Fruitvale for Dia de los Muertos is deserving of suspicion.

  4. Patrick

    OK, just got back. What a great festival! So, I think the Beso de Novia torta (I’m guessing 1500 calories, which came after several tacos, some chicharrones and a gob o’ delish sweet corn ice cream) put me over the edge. I LOVE Oakland, regardless of my occasional bouts of hysteria. I’m still not exactly thrilled with my ad valorem tax increase, however (my increase could have bought me 106 Beso de Novia tortas!)

    As an aside to Navigator, should he be lurking: rather than focus on the SF media’s overt attempts to keep Oakland down, perhaps we should focus on why. Personally, I think it’s because the real deal is on this side of the Bay. SF has its bright spots, but those spots are an awful lot like Oakland. There’s so little left to gentrify over there (that’s worthwhile), so the interesting bits just keep getting smaller and smaller.

  5. Daniel Schulman (das88)

    @Patrick I also had a great time at the festival. Had a ice cream with pine nuts & cheese. Sometimes I consider moving to Fruitvale, and then I realize I would gain 30 pounds in the first year.

  6. John Klein

    Yes, Dia de los Muertos in Fruitvale was a great success. It was really well laid out with multiple stages and street performance areas. There was a big area for kids, including pony rides.

    I spent a lot of time at the stage that was backed-up to the BART station in the BART parking lot. There were several fantastic bands including Los Indomables de Huetamo, El Plebe, and La Incomparable Tierra del Sol – all were terrific.

    On of the “acts’ that really affected me was the group of Nahua dancers and singers that was a presence throughout the entire event. I believe Dia de los Muertos is a Nahua observance that pre-dates European and Catholic occupation of the western hemisphere.

    I’ve posted a YouTube video of one of their songs. I was taking photographs while they were performing but I just couldn’t get the pictures I wanted. Somehow the photographs just weren’t capturing what was happening onstage. I couldn’t figure it out. The group dances a lot in the streets, giving very long and elaborate dances with 30-40 dancers. Because of this, I was tuned into them as a dance performance group.

    Then it struck me that they weren’t giving a visual performance. What they were doing was a song – a very unusual song. I pulled out my Flip camera and caught what I could of it. The clip is almost 10 minutes long so it takes some patience. But it is all live performance. The first few minutes are the most astonishing because it is a live performance, nothing is pre-recorded. It is in Nahuatl language.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLh4PMP_1_s