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Regional Interests

Fantastic Negrito’s Record Label Cooks Up Food-Filled Event to Support Oakland Youth

When the Oakland musician Fantastic Negrito, a.k.a. Xavier Dphrepaulezz, started his new independent record label Storefront Records, he talked about how he wanted its West Oakland home base to be a resource for the local community. What better way to kick off that effort than by hosting free outdoor events in the building’s courtyard and parking lot at the corner of 34th Street and San Pablo Avenue?

So was born Storefront Market, a community-minded event series that takes place on the last Saturday afternoon of every month. Each iteration of the market has its own theme (say, a street food fair or a vinyl swap meet) and live music lineup—and, not for nothing, there’s always an abundance of tasty and reasonably priced food available for purchase. 

The events are all meant to be family-friendly, but the edition coming up this Saturday, July 31, is especially focused on food, music and activities to appeal to kids. Fittingly, it’s called the Fountain of Youth Festival.

Adu Abraham, the event’s organizer, says it’s important to note that the festival’s immediate vicinity in West Oakland is largely a food desert. And there aren’t many other folks in the neighborhood putting together free events like this that pull in vendors from all over Oakland. “It’s welcoming enough that people feel comfortable to bring their kids or their dogs,” she says. 

As for the youth focus of Saturday’s event, it isn’t just a matter of setting up a crafts table or having someone in clown makeup tie animal balloons—not that there’s anything wrong with those things. (Indeed, the Fountain of Youth Festival will have a few hands-on activities like a drum workshop.) 

A child plays a traditional drum at a previous Storefront Market event. (Cheryl Alterman)

But the biggest focus will be on providing opportunities for young people in Oakland to build a better future for themselves. In short, Abraham says, “the goal is to encourage financial literacy among the youth.” 

Toward that end, the majority of the vendors themselves will be teenagers, selling handmade earrings, second-hand clothing, Jean-Michel Basquiat–inspired hats and more. Food-wise, the headliners include a handful of talented young bakers from Oakland, including Yahshi Bakes, run by a former Food Network Kids Baking Championship runner-up, and Culinary Kids, which specializes in lemon bars. 

 No one would fault you for assembling an entire meal of those sweet treats, but for visitors looking for something more savory, the market has also brought in a couple of (grownup-run) ringers with cult followings among East Bay food lovers: Dela Curo will be selling its popular Japanese black curry and milk bread fruit sandwiches. And barbecue specialist MexiQ will sling its signature Mexican fusion smoked chicken and ribs.

“It’s free!” Abraham says of the event. “We’re here for the community to come through.”

Storefront Market’s events are held outside Storefront Records, at 3431 San Pablo Avenue, on the last Saturday of the month from noon–5pm. This month’s kid-focused Fountain of Youth Festival edition takes place on July 31. Masks will be required for unvaccinated guests. 

Copyright 2021 KQED