Olivia Swords, of Berkley, draws a lion as part of a chalk art contest during the 2019 Berkley Street Art Fest. The event is scheduled to make a return this year on Saturday, Aug. 7.

Olivia Swords, of Berkley, draws a lion as part of a chalk art contest during the 2019 Berkley Street Art Fest. The event is scheduled to make a return this year on Saturday, Aug. 7.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Berkley’s Art Bash, Street Art Fest get conditional approvals

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 31, 2021


BERKLEY — The Berkley City Council gave tentative approvals for two art festivals to occur later this year.

At its May 17 meeting, the council conditionally approved the returns of the Berkley Art Bash and Berkley Street Art Fest. The Street Art Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, and the Art Bash will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Saturday, Sept. 11.

It will be the first time the events will take place since 2019 after their cancellations last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce is presenting both events.

The Street Art Fest will be located on Coolidge Highway between Catalpa Drive and Beverly Boulevard, and the Art Bash will be on 12 Mile Road between Kipling and Buckingham avenues, though there is potential that the event could be expanded up to two blocks.

For the Street Art Fest, Chamber Events and Operations Manager RoseAnn Nicolai said the event will be a bit different from past years. Normally, there would be a lot of booths or areas where people could create their own art, but for 2021, the primary focus will be on the chalk art contest. There also will be a shopping area and another for food vendors.

“We’ve increased the footprint significantly to Beverly,” she said. “This isn’t usually as large of an event as far as attendance because it’s so new. I mean, our hope is one day it’ll get larger and larger, but with the way we’ve spread everything out, there’s plenty of social distance and we’re really treating it as a strolling event. … We hope to get people out in the summer and walking in the street and discovering the great businesses on Coolidge and just having some fun and being outside.”

The Street Art Fest is celebrating its fourth year. It previously was held in July, but the move was made to August as a health and safety precaution.

“This is one of my family’s favorite events,” Councilwoman Natalie Price said. “We love the chalk art. We love the murals and the permanent chalk art around town from David Zinn. It’s just a highlight of our summer.”

For the 19th edition of the Art Bash, the event was rescheduled from its usual date of the second Saturday in June to September. The city cited the move as a health and safety precaution.

As with the Street Art Fest, Nicolai said the Art Bash will undergo changes. Gone will be any musical entertainment to congregate a crowd, but the footprint also has been expanded for safety and traffic control, per the recommendation of the departments of Public Works and Public Safety.

Nicolai said that the merchants and restaurants in the area are looking forward to the event, as it’s one of the bigger days business-wise.

“We do know that things are continually changing as everyone can see,” she said. “We understand that rules can change. Mandates can change. We just have to remain flexible, and we’re fully aware of that fact that that’s just the way things are.”

Councilman Steve Baker was comfortable approving the events knowing there’s an asterisk on them that states the city can reverse course, if needed.

“I’m comforted to know that we have the ability to do what’s best for the community and for Berkley and for the stores and everybody just in case things take a turn, but I’m optimistic that we won’t need to do that and that … the vaccination rates will continue to increase and that folks will honor the recent CDC guidance around masks versus no masks,” he said.

“I’m pleased that we have reached a point as a society and as a country that we can begin to resume these kinds of events in a safe and thoughtful manner,” he continued.