The Rockridge Business District’s Rock-N-Stroll Festival extends into 2022. Journey After local merchants express a positive response and report increased foot traffic following a three-month pilot program last fall, the free event for all ages is taking place on College Avenue from 11 a.m. Until 6pm on the second Saturday of the month from May to December. The next Rock-N-Stroll party will take place on June 11th.
The Rockridge Area Association launched this year’s season on May 14, welcoming residents and visitors to stores, services and restaurants where people can access special discounts, in-store offers, trunk shows, tasting menus, pop-up vendors, children’s crafts, arts fairs, and especially live music outdoors.
The shows feature local musicians and include not only rock bands but artists seasoned with jazz, bluegrass, indie folk, reggae, funk, Americana, contemporary pop, electronica, ska and more. Jodi Cooley, director of marketing for the Rockridge District Association, says the Rock-N-Stroll Street Festival is a wholly sensory experience.
“It is walkable and visually stimulating with boutiques and restaurants on the ground level displaying beautiful windows,” says Cooley, adding that the diverse cuisine offered by local restaurants and easy public transportation via Rockridge BART station “mean you can’t go wrong when you go right into Rockridge” .
The BART station provides access from all directions throughout the Bay Area and can reduce parking concerns (if enough attendees use the BART) with an event spanning several hours. Although she wasn’t physically present on the site, Cooley received remote comments and praise for her May event from board members with her “feet in the street.” She also says that the primary metric she measured as significant was a positive word from participating merchants.
“Traders said (they) increased their sales compared to their usual profit. The pilot program we ran last year with over a dozen merchants happened the same thing. I want it to be successful, and as an event organizer, I measure this by the number of merchants who continue to participate. We grow a merchant or Two new dealers every month.
The Rockridge Association’s budget of about $30,000 for the eight festivals in 2022 is used mostly for advertising and the band’s fees. By avoiding exorbitant festival expenses for stages, barricades, bathroom utensils, rents for tents and tables, street closure announcements, private parking or interruption permits for transportation?? “Especially during an era when a sudden rise in the COVID-19 variant could lead to last-minute cancellation?” Rock-N-Stroll is well suited to the current environment.
Cooley says that pop-up vendors are invited by local merchants and care is taken to avoid introducing intrusive competition that might negatively affect local businesses. She doesn’t claim to be a veteran music booking agent, but says her contact list of bands is poised to expand from 100 Bay Area bands to an expected 300.
“I only have one stage where we can have a big footprint bar or a band with a drum set. While orchestrating, I have in mind the business on the second floor in Rockridge which is pretty much a therapeutic business. I have to think about how loud the bands and the sides are. others to respect their services.
The musicians scheduled for June 11 showcase a wide mix of genres: Bumford & Son (bluegrass); Kurt Yaghi Oakland and The People Behind Me (rock, reggae, ska); French-born reggae singer-songwriter Junior Dreads (reggae music); Americana, Marine Six-Piece Band (Americana); Kelly Keys (solo piano and contemporary pop and jazz standards); and others.
While Cooley hopes the festival will continue to grow and develop, Cooley says the organizers are patient. Based on her experience in managing marketing campaigns; Create websites and local print guides for purchasing; Supervising and producing publications; Organizing big events. As CEO of Oakland Grown, a nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2009, Cooley says it will take time to attract people to the Rockridge Festival.
These neighborhood things take a while to take root, get merchants to think creatively and let people in the community know that it happens. I’m already thinking about next year and the second Saturday will be a friendly, casual opportunity to hang out in a nice neighborhood, eat, shop and listen to music.”
She says the board members had many discussions about giving up Out & About, an established community event that was “something we called it, something that gave Rockridge a vision.” Digital surveys and door-to-door feedback after the pilot hike program said the new format was more predictable, manageable and fun.
Cooley says she’s looking forward to a “mental reset” as people adjust to a smaller festival and are encouraged by merchants who provide increased input on what a community event might include in the future.
“We have a record store, Open Mind Music, and we’re talking about starting a new music show for Rising Stars. Nathan & Co donated a portion of the sales to Ukraine last month.
“Planterday started as a pop-up and is now a brick-and-mortar store that gives revenue to mental health organizations as part of their business model. Beer Baron (a whiskey restaurant and bar) is full this year. They have a huge patio and bring in local craft beer and breweries to talk about their beer every month. Golden Squirrel is another restaurant/pub, and they do fashion contests and games.”
Cooley says Rock-N-Stroll’s “big draw” doesn’t come from a single dealer, restaurant, or business. Instead, drag is a dreamy afternoon, where you spend afternoons outdoors, enjoying leisurely leisure, shopping on the sidewalk or in small boutiques, visiting pop-up vendors, eating great and doing it all with friends and family neighbors and visitors.
“Sometimes you don’t need to make a big fuss, you just want to hang out on the tree-lined streets,” Cooley says.
Lou Fancher is a freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected]