If you live in Oakland, California, the chances are that your calendar is marked for Oakland First Friday each month as the city’s downtown becomes a destination for artists, food entrepreneurs, street performers and more. Happening between Telegraph Avenue and West Grand Avenue, the family-friendly cultural outing is one of the city’s events where talent and diversity are on full display.
Surrounding businesses also join in catering to crowds of people, many who come as far as San Jose. Going the opposite direction toward Jack London Square, be sure to make a stop in the Old Oakland district at Liege Spirits Lounge, one of Oakland’s Black-owned lounges known for good eats, drinks and beats. This first Friday in December, the country’s first African American cruise company, Festival at Sea, will bring the party to land as it teams up Liege and its Foodie Friday series for an annual Christmas Party and toy drive for the San Francisco Black Firefighters Association.
“We wanted to support and uplift our local African American community during the holiday season,” says Patricia Yarbrough, Festival at Sea founder. “We were inspired by our annual Festival at Sea book drive where we donate children books to participating schools at one of our ports-of-call. We wanted to bring that same charity and spirit back to our own community.”
The San Francisco native started Festival at Sea 29 years ago and has built a loyal following of adventure seekers who, together with the cruise company, have sailed to various parts of the world.
Together on Fri., Dec. 6, Festival at Sea and Liege will host foodies looking to end the work week with a bang. Chef Kenneth Wynn who has been at Liege for three of its nine years, knows what keeps people coming back week after week and month after month. His curated menu will include Land & Sea Gumbo with chicken or beef sausage, Nola Sliders “3 the Hard Way” with a choice of fish (fried basa), shrimp or oysters, red beans and rice with chipotle sausage or without for vegans and bourbon banana pudding. Liege’s full-service bar offers the perfect pairings with Wynn’s menu to be ordered and shared among friends. “Foodies can look forward to a night full of African American cuisine, hip hop and R&B music, Black culture and camaraderie. Our goal is to unite the community around the holidays, and in doing so, ensure a child in need can receive a gift this holiday season,” says Yarbrough.
Those attending are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to the event with all donations to be distributed by the San Francisco Black Firefighters Association throughout the Bay Area. Can’t attend but still want to give? No problem. Donations can be mailed directly to Festival at Sea at 351 California St., Suite #950, San Francisco, CA 94104.
The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and Liege is located at 481 9th Street in Oakland. It is free to attend with food and drinks available for purchase. For more information, you can stop by the Eventbrite page and also politely RSVP that you’ll be attending as both the lounge and Festival at Sea prepare for one of the hottest holiday events of the season.
For 2020 events as well as upcoming cruises that will include the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Africa, visit Festival at Sea’s website at https://www.festivalatsea.com/ and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.