Cue the marimbas!
After two years of pandemic-enforced cancellations, the dance, food and eco-consciousness will return on May 21, as the Farmer’s Market Salsa Festival returns to Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park.
Created in 2018 by the Berkeley Ecology Center as a way to combine healthy outdoor activities with information on how to help fight the climate crisis, the festival was also designed to engage with the thriving communities of Latinix and artisans of the city. A family-friendly event, it drew thousands of people who danced in droves while being led by professional salsa instructors, shopped at the farmers market, sipped drinks (adults and others) and visited activities and booths “designed to help people get in touch with their individual capacity to have real and lasting impact in the ongoing climate crisis,” said BEC event coordinator Cynthia Murdough.
The Ecology Center is looking forward to restarting in-person festivals, and it’s the first since the 2020 shutdown, Murdough said.
Now the festivities are back on, and with a whole lot more going on than in 2018, when organizers were just “getting their feet wet,” she said. This year’s festival is expected to attract at least 2,500 attendees, who will be shaking their boots for live performances from San Francisco’s Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, the 30-piece Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, Afro-Cuban/Afro -Peruvian Erick Peralta and Christian Pepin y su Orquesta Bembe, winner of a Grammy Award.
“How many people know that [Berkeley High School] has a set that just returned from Cuba? Murdough asked, “or that we have a Grammy winner here in our community?”
Those who can’t help but move their feet to the music can learn basic salsa steps, led by Latin dancers from Fenix Dance, who will perform and teach throughout the day. At the Kids’ Eco-Zone, the littlest salsa fans can make recycled percussion instruments and join the Kids’ Drum Circle while learning a few dance steps.
Along with filling baskets and bags with produce from the farmer’s market, hungry visitors can sample market-sourced salsa recipes from the chefs of Berkeley’s Kitchen on Fire and CHICA, an Oakland restaurant run by a woman and POC. Or they can ride to a People Powered smoothie on a stationary bike, using fresh fruit and juice from vendors at the farmer’s market.
“All the ingredients will come from the farmer’s market that morning,” Murdough said.
Naturally, other beverages won’t be left behind, favoring locally sourced and sustainably made products, including craft beer, wines and mojitos in partnership with market food vendors. DeNovo Winery will pour cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and sparkling crémant. Drake’s Brewing Company will feature Pilsner and IPA. Montoya Distillers, an industry leader in sustainability and social responsibility, will sponsor the mojito stand, featuring made-to-order drinks made with fresh mint and lime.
Eco-shoppers can visit the displays of more than 15 local artisans who create eco-friendly items.
The complementary side of the festival will showcase the myriad ways that people concerned about the environment and the climate crisis can make an individual difference. “All Ecology Center programs will be represented,” Murdough said, giving attendees the opportunity to learn about Berkeley Curbside Recycling, pathways to zero waste, “plastic-free July,” the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, the EcoHouse, the EcoDirectory and, of course, the Ecology Center Store.
“A lot of people don’t know that the Ecology Center is the sponsor of all three Berkeley Farmers’ Markets,” Murdough said. This includes the town center market, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday; North Berkeley Market, 3-7 p.m. Thursday; and South Berkeley Market, 2-6:30 p.m., also on Thursdays.
Support for the elimination of disposable fashion will be highlighted by the Haute Trash Artist Collaborative, which will host the “Trashion Fashion Selfie Booth”. Try creations made from recycled materials, from computer chips to plastic grocery bags to USPS packaging, and take a selfie to prove it. Murdough noted that while huge global issues, like the climate, can seem overwhelming, there are much smaller, everyday things everyone can do “to inspire and build a sustainable, healthy and just future for East Bay, California and beyond”.
The kids’ eco-zone will feature star spins from Compton the Compost Pile, which is made entirely from recycled materials. Compton puppeteer Toni “Tune” Makula will rock the neighborhood, Mariela’s bilingual music time will entertain with carols, the Berkeley Library will host environmental story time and the Pollinator Posse will help children create their own holiday homes. bees to go. . What if they still aren’t tired? Then they can make clay masks; blow giant eco-friendly bubbles through handmade metal wands; or have faces painted with eco-friendly paints and nature-inspired designs.
Of course, the Ecology Center hopes to recruit members during the festival, and those interested can register on site. “But just being there is a first step toward engagement,” Murdough said.
When asked what basic advice she would give to anyone considering attending, she listed:
•Take the BART to get there. BARTable is a sponsor, and the walk to the park is just a few blocks from the Downtown Berkeley and North Berkeley stations. There is also free street parking and paid parking at nearby local garages.
- Bring your market bags/basket and your dancing shoes!
- Wear layers for the somewhat unpredictable weather in May.
• Bring a picnic blanket for outdoor dining.
Farmer’s Market Salsa Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park, 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Way, Berkeley. Free. More information: https://ecologycenter.org/events/farmers-market-salsa-festival