Flagship Weekend Long Art + Soul Festival to Draw Tens Of Thousands to Oakland

art and soul
Oakland Art and Soul Festival via Facebook

The city of Oakland's flagship "Art + Soul" festival is slated for Saturday and Sunday, with dance food, music and art, festival officials said.

The festival will take place in a 10-block area around Frank Ogawa Plaza at 14th Street and Broadway from noon to 6 p.m. both days. It is in its 15th year.

"It's a big milestone," founder and executive producer Samee Roberts said.

It started in 2001 with one stage, one sponsor and a few thousand festivalgoers. But now, the festival draws tens of thousands of people from all over the Bay Area, Roberts said.

"We're really happy with the way it's turned out," she said, adding that the event offers "something for everyone."

Four stages will host 40 acts including Oakland-born Grammy-nominated Sheila E. on Sunday, Roberts said.

The festival's second annual Oaktown Throwdown BBQ Competition is on Saturday, she said. Festivalgoers will have a chance to sample the cooking of 40 pitmasters as well as backyard teams. Samples cost a small fee, festival officials said.

Also, guests can attend the Turf & All Styles Dance Battle, in which the area's top street dancers compete for cash in front of City Hall on Saturday.

Festivalgoers can also preview the work of poets who will compete from August 10 to 15 in Oakland in the National Poetry Slam, according to festival officials.

Saturday's events also include Oakland-based vertical dancing group BANDALOOP, which will dance vertically along a wall of City Hall, Roberts said.

Sunday is the day to celebrate the musical families from Oakland, which besides Sheila E. includes The Family Stone, Roberts and festival organizers said.

The Family Stone consists of Sly & The Family Stone members Jerry Martini and Cynthia Robinson. Other members of the group may make a special guest appearance, according to festival officials.

Festival admission each day is $12 for adults, $7 for seniors and children 13 to 17 years old and free for children 12 and younger, officials said.

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