*Editor’s note: Peralta Junction’s finale events were canceled due to predicted rain over the coming days, and the circus will be packing up earlier than planned. Check out peraltajunction.com or their Facebook page for updates on future projects.
A whimsical world popped up on a previously empty lot in West Oakland in early October—but it’s almost time to pack up. This Friday, organizers of Peralta Junction, a free outdoor event featuring food trucks, carnival games, vendors and live musical performances, will celebrate the finale of its nearly two-month run at the intersection of West Grand Avenue and Mandela Parkway.
“We really felt as though there was an opportunity to bring creative energy that exists in West Oakland out into the public sphere,” said event co-producer Leslie Pritchett, a longtime Bay Area public arts consultant. The event, shuttered during the week, has come to life on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays since October 4—weather permitting. The event will sign off with a closing party on November 30.
Peralta Junction’s traveling circus theme is based on the five interactive 1920s carnival games of M.T. Pocket’s Traveling Midway of Curiosities and Delights, an installation that has also appeared at the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francsico. Attendees can step right up to a booth for “Bucksome Betty’s” burlesque bean bag toss, try their luck at hanging fedoras on hat racks from afar at the “Put a Lid on It” booth, or indulge their curiosities with a friendly fortune teller. Red-and-white-striped tents house vendors offering everything from vegan organic donuts to hand-stitched hats.
The event’s overall art direction and design was headed by Marcus Guillard of One Hat One Hand, a design-build collective in San Francisco. Pritchett said over 100 local artists contributed to the event, including fabricating a fence to encircle the lot, painting a variety of vibrant murals, crafting a ticket booth out of old car parts, and operating heavy machinery to put things in place—much of which was done by industrial artists from West Oakland’s American Steel Studios just across the street. The Crucible, another industrial arts collective in West Oakland, also provided event support and hosted interactive art workshops.
Beyond the midway of tented booths sits the fairground’s most dynamic attraction: the “Life-Size Mousetrap,” a 25-ton contraption based on the Hasbro board game and built by artist Mark Perez over a span of 13 years. During mousetrap demonstrations, volunteers from the crowd crank the release of “marbles” that roll down steps, are lifted in baskets and dropped through chutes in a journey to eventually trigger the release of a two-ton safe hanging 30 feet in the air—hovering above a nice, smashable target.
To catch the last glimpse of the Mousetrap and the Junction’s unique nighttime carnival atmosphere, head to 2012 Peralta Street between 7 and 10 p.m. on closing night, November 30. Visit peraltajunction.com for more details on the evening’s schedule of events.