Dia de Los Muertos Festival 2006

On Sunday, November 5 2006, still slightly disappointed by the scale of the last two festivals I attended, I decided to go the Dia de Los Muertos Festival, what I was pretty sure would be a full size street fair, in the international district (a.k.a., the Bayfair district) of Oakland. I knew it would be big because the web site said they were sold out of booth space.

I also wanted to go because I've heard much about the international district in Oakland and the quality of its authentic food and wanted to see the area for myself.

It was huge! Ten blocks of booths. At least five stages, most loud enough that some music could be heard constantly. A huge crowd of, according to the Chronicle, tens of thousands of people. I can believe it: it was hard to walk given the constant press of people. The only festival I've been to that might've had a similarly large crowd was the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, and that's spread over a larger area. The crowd was so huge and dense it took me two hours to press my way ten blocks from one end of the festival to another. I think the North Berkeley Spice of Life Festival might've sold out of booths as well, but it was only six blocks long and, although crowded, lacked the sheer mass of people.

As I explored, I took some photos, including a few of the many altars, and some movies of various dancing, drumming, and music. The newspaper link above also has a few more photos which, I'm proud to say, are not significantly better than some I took.

I snacked while wandering amid the ruckus and browsing the booths, most of which were pretty boring though a few sold paintings of death, neat shirts, or sculptures of death. I started with a cheese and bean and cheese papusa: both solid examples of the cuisine (including the expected amount of grease). Next came one of the most brilliant snack booths I've ever seen: a booth selling chopped fruit of many types including watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, mango, and more. I had some watermelon. I spotted a number of these booths around the fair, all doing good business. Why don't more people on the street sell nice fresh fruit? I later finished my snacking with a taco al pastor topped with onion, cilantro, and both red and green salsa. It was great. (Mixing salsa usually fails. Not this time.)

Anyway, it was a cute excursion.

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