It was only a couple of days before Saturday’s Festival that I took a really good look at the festival map. I discovered to my horror that the powers-that-be at Arcata Main Street had decided to eliminate the parking lot/shuttle stop on Samoa Boulevard down around K Street “due to not enough use”, as the staffer told me when I called to complain. Their revised plan was to cut off access to the Plaza from the North so that anyone who rode the shuttles and got off at their stops on 11th Street had to walk all the way down to 7th Street to get access.
I know three extra blocks doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re (hopefully temporarily) disabled as I am that’s a real issue. I’m using a cane due to a recent knee replacement and three blocks is beyond my comfort zone so I called Arcata Main Street and spoke with a nice person who directed me to their “ADA parking” off 7th Street. Those dear folks, with all the good intentions in the world, had set side a big fat 16 parking spaces for a festival expected to attract 16,000 oyster fans. Even the person I was speaking to realized how silly that sounded. I don’t recall the actually ADA setasides for outdoor Festivals but it’s a helluva lot more than 1 in 1000.
So we ended up showing up at before 8am in order to get a closeby parking space. In a way, it was great because by the time the Plaza got hot and crowded, we were ready to go home. On the other hand, when you leave at noon you miss a lot of stuff. I found myself wondering WHY the Festival is on the Plaza in the first place. There’s no connection between the Plaza and the Oysters and the Festival disrupts the Farmers’ Market every year. Moving it to the Community Center would lost the “Festival” aspect. The Festival should be held on the BAY!! Woodley Island isn’t part of Arcata Main Street’s domain plus it’s too small and getting everyone on and off the island would be a nightmare. But looking ahead to an era when lots of interesting developments are coming up in Samoa, I hope that one day the Festival will expand its footprint, reducing the congestion. We can only hope.
Congratulations to AMS and their volunteers for another successful Festival, but let’s put a little more thought into the arrangements next year.