May 27, 2014 > The Cherry Festival is back!
The Cherry Festival is back!
Submitted By Robbie Finley
Cherries will once again make mouths water as San Leandro celebrates the 105th anniversary of its beloved ÒCherry Festival.Ó
San Leandro first staged the festival in June 1909 to celebrate local products, of which cherries were king. ÒIt was first conceived to highlight the agriculture in the area. They had a cherry queen and the parade had lots of people, local businesses and farmers, and they had games and rides. It was like a carnival,Ó said San Leandro Recreation and Human Services Director Carolyn Knudtson.
Cherries and San Leandro were synonymous back in its agricultural heyday, so much so that it garnered the nickname ÒThe Cherry City.Ó The festival, just like the city, has evolved over the years, from a venue to promote their acclaimed bumper crop to a celebration of the cityÕs past, present and future.
The festival kicks off on Saturday, May 31 with a traditional parade down the newly repaved San Leandro Boulevard, featuring an array of vintage automobiles, cable cars, walking groups, and elaborate floats designed and created by participating groups. San Leandro High SchoolÕs float will even feature a live band! Floats will be judged and awards handed out after the parade.
At the end of the parade route will be the festival itself, staged right in the heart of San Leandro, near Casa Peralta on West Estudillo Avenue. Festival goers can explore all of the festivities, such as a kidÕs zone, games, a rock-climbing wall, the sponsorÕs lane, handmade crafts and goodies, and lots of food, including delicious gourmet food trucks. The landmark Casa Peralta will also be open, hosting historical re-enactment activities that highlight San LeandroÕs past.
If youÕre a cherry pie aficionado, then you might want to consider entering the Cherry Pie Bake-Off this year. You can register at the festival; just bring your pie, the recipe, and entry form (found on the CityÕs website) to the Cherry Pie registration booth between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Winners will be announced at 2 p.m.
The festival wonÕt be light on entertainment; headlining on the Royal Ann stage (at St. LeanderÕs School on Clarke Street) will be the Oakland-based R&B trio Tony! Toni! Toné! along with Motown group The Best Intentions, Beatles tribute band The Sun Kings, and the Latin Rhythm Boys. Hot 105.7 DJ Chuy Gomez will be on site handling the MC duties. A slew of local talent, including dancers, the YMCA, and an orchestra, can be seen on the Cherry Blossom stage at the intersection of Hays Street and West Estudillo Avenue.
A unique new feature of the festival this year is the ÒMake San LeandroÓ event, which brings the increasingly popular maker faire concept to San Leandro, where people can showcase their own unique and innovative inventions.
The last ÒCherry FestivalÓ to grace the streets of San Leandro was held in 2009. Economic downturn has been the prohibiting factor in the staging of the festival since then, a sad fact not lost upon residents. ÒWhen elected officials go door-to-door, they come back and say that the people want the ÔCherry Festival,ÕÓ said Knudtson. ÒPeople love the ÔCherry Festival,ÕÓ she said, adding, ÒWeÕve had a fantastic response. The festival is a mix of history, celebration, and gives a sense of pride. (San Leandro residents) love the festival and the memories it has created.Ó
The city has been working hard to gain sponsorships from business, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Ò(The sponsors) have recognized the importance and impact of the ÔCherry FestivalÕ on the community and brought in over $70,000. We hope to sustain this sponsorship to be able to continue to offer the festival,Ó Knudtson said.
Historically, there has been upwards of 10,000 people that have come out to indulge in some cherry goodness. Parking availability varies, but if biking is your preferred mode of transportation, theyÕll even have a bike valet on hand.
For more information, please visit www.sanleandro.org/depts/rec/special_events/cherry_festival/.
San Leandro Cherry Festival
Saturday, May 31
9 a.m. Ð 6 p.m.
Downtown San Leandro- West Estudillo
(near Casa Peralta 384 West Estudillo Ave)