By Ken Martin

TWICE AS GOOD: In an earlier column I said that any community that will shut down its main street for a parade has to be a great place to live. Well, Castro Valley earns double points in that category. Not only does it shut down the Boulevard for a parade, but it does it a second time for the great Fall Festival!

This year’s Festival most gracefully survived the onslaught of unseasonal bellicose weather. In spite of the early Saturday morning rains, by noon time the crowds looked pretty much normal. But the weather later retaliated Sunday afternoon by returning in large enough amounts to cause an early close. Regardless, in between the showers a lot of people had a lot of fun.

While there were some things for sale that I cannot, in my wildest fantasies, imagine anyone paying money to buy, there were also many interesting and viable commodities offered. The variety of foods available seemed to have something for everyone. I thought the huge grills loaded with various tasty meats were an entertainment item in themselves, especially when accompanied by the chefs in appropriate attire.

One section that I thought was of particular importance to the community was the area that had booths displaying the functions and activities of the many clubs, organizations, service groups, and businesses in our town. This grouping was almost a mini-catalog of what is available to the residents of Castro Valley. I felt that it was important because, all too frequently, CV citizens fail to even look for these local services and go out of the area to avail themselves of identical activities.

It was good to see the CHP and the Sheriff’s Office represented but I was somewhat puzzled by the presence of the booth with the San Francisco Police Department display. Do they get many calls from Castro Valley?

Although I now see and hear comments to the contrary, having virtually the entire contingent of booths on the Boulevard was a good move. It made a better flow of pedestrian traffic which made it easier to go through the whole show without missing anything.

Placing the entertainment stages at the outer edges was also an improvement. Some of the loud music that is played can become somewhat overbearing. The peripheral locations of the stages were easily available to those that wanted to see and hear the entertainment but left the central area quieter for those that did not.

One of the stranger complaints that I saw was that the Festival was “too crowded” and it was hard to move around. I can only say that if crowds are a problem, don’t attend events that draw crowds. Isn’t one of the objectives of festival-like events to draw in as many people as possible? Aren’t large crowds one of the measures of the success of the event? I thought attendance was great in spite of the weather.

In any case, the Castro Valley Fall Festival is a totally worthwhile event and a credit to our community and to the Chamber of Commerce. Well done!!