After returning from a four-month hiatus earlier this year, we have a report that the popular First Fridays event in Oakland may be on the rocks again, with financial concerns over permitting costs and fewer vending spots.

Like all great street fairs and festivals, the beloved 19-year-old monthly event Oakland First Fridays was forced to put things on hold through the pandemic year of 2020, and much of 2021. The Telegraph Avenue street fair came back in September 2021, but had a budget crunch and was forced to go on hiatus from January through March of 2024. First Fridays did return in April 2024, to the delight of food truck fans, drum circle enthusiasts, and Koreatown vendors and small businesses.

But now just three months after that glorious return, the Chronicle reports that First Fridays is in jeopardy once again. The event is still struggling with the combination of factors that drove it into hiatus this year: the $35,000-$45,000 cost of producing each event, lower attendance than pre-pandemic times, and a new set of bike lanes that has reduced the number of vending spaces available to the event.

On top of that, a woman was shot and killed about three blocks from last week’s First Fridays event, near the Fox Theater, though this happened a couple of hours after the event wrapped up, and it’s not certain that the shooting was connected in any way to First Fridays.

“Our festival director is leaving in August, and I'm just not going to replace him to see if we can save some funds,” Shari Gordinez, executive director of the Koreatown/Northgate Community Benefit District (KONO) that organizes the event told the Chronicle. “We're just going to have a much smaller team and try to move forward and try to get more and more volunteers and see if we can survive.”

Image: Oakland First Fridays

The yellow thermometer above shows that the event is closer to its $150,000 fundraising goal than it was last time we checked in March. But at only $58,000 currently raised mid-year, that $150,000 goal still seems daunting.

And while the July event did have some blue-chip sponsors like Xfinity and Airbnb (and the dispensary chain Nug, apparently), that may not be enough to cover the event’s hefty street closure and security fees.

We do see above that there is another First Fridays scheduled for Friday, August 2. But going forward, there may be concern that each month’s First Fridays could be the last First Fridays.

Related: Oakland’s First Fridays Announces Its Return From Hiatus Next Weekend For First Friday April [SFist]

Image: Carmen V. via Yelp