This annual festival at Lake Merritt, a street festival begun in 1982, was discontinued in 1997.  It was a production of the State of California, Division of Fairs and Exposition.  The Lake Merritt Garden Society realized that Oakland, which is part of California's First Agricultural District had no county fair component.  Wanting to spotlight the significant floral diversity at Lake Merrit, they approached the State and received funding for an annual flower show.  They gradually added booths for artisans and craftspeople, activities for kids, food, community groups, musical performers and that flower show eventually grew into Festival at the Lake.  The flower show remained an integral part of the Festival until its discontinuation in 1997.  The Art and Soul Oakland Festival is considered a replacement.

Why it ended

There are a number of reasons cited as to why it was discontinued: debt and dwindling attendance due to fears of escalating disturbances at the event and crime in the surrounding neighborhood1, 2, and concerns about cruising from Lake Merritt residents (can someone confirm?).

"This is why we can't have nice things"

There are some folks who say "oh the same thing that happened with Festival of the Lake is what's going to happen with Art Murmur/First Friday" - basically sharing a concern that a highly popular Oakland street festival that has a violent occurrence will experience an overwhelming response calling for the entire event to end (and that it would be ended from the pressure of the calls to end it). After a shooting during First Friday in early 2013, there were many calls for First Friday to end, but it did keep going... (Please add more information here if you have it!)

Maybe this is a good illustration of the problem.

Links and References

  1. Festival At the Lake Discontinued / Debt from Oakland fete proved insurmountable (SF Gate)
  2. Oakland's lake festival is endangered by popularity (SF Gate)