Lakefest in Oakland sees smaller turnout than previous years

A smaller than expected crowd showed up to Lakefest at Lake Merritt on Saturday.  This daytime summer festival emphasizes celebrating community, culture and Juneteenth.

This is the fifth year of the Oakland event. 

Family enjoys dancers performing on the community stage at Lakefest in Oakland, CA on June 22, 2024

On Wednesday, which was a federal holiday, an unsanctioned celebration saw sideshows along the north side of Lake Merritt, just after dusk, that is when violence broke out. 

Fifteen people were hit by bullets at the mass shooting event. Three hospitals triaged patients, many of whom were self-transported for treatment of gunshot wounds. 

Participants suggested that the tragic mass casualty incident impacted the Lakefest turnout. 

Lakefest 2024 entrance fees were $5 for kids and seniors and $10 for adults

This year’s event theme was "It takes a village". 

Shayla Jamerson is co-producer of the 2024 Lakefest. She shared that last year’s attendance was close to twenty thousand but admitted that there were concerns about safety. She said, ‘Five vendors dropped out earlier this week." 

The festive atmosphere offered fun for all ages, with over one hundred vendor booths showcasing makers and entrepreneurs who were selling everything from fashion to food, art, and jewelry. 

Jamerson said "Everybody comes for the food! You eat the food and the next thing you know you’re laid out on the grass, enjoying the music." 

 This year, after the violence at the Lake on the Juneteenth holiday, extra efforts were made for safety for vendors, entertainers, and attendees. Jamerson said, "We let it be known that we have fencing this year. The Oakland Police reached out and said, ‘we’ll bring extra officers, whatever you need." 

The new Chief of Police Floyd Mitchell was on site, talking to residents, taking a moment to enjoy some refreshing Italian ice from a vendor.

OPD Chief Floyd Mitchell attends Lakefest 2024 at Lake Merritt

He gave KTVU an update on Wednesday’s mass shooting at the lake. He said, "Thankfully, none of the people that were shot the other day have perished, so that's a blessing right there." 

Chief Mitchell said his officers are working to find out who the shooters were at the event. He said, "Our investigators are still checking social media - trying to identify those who are involved."

Community partners came out to advance education and resources, 

Ulises Zatarain is the executive director of Tech Exchange, a twenty-year-old organization that helps people engage with technology, offering workshops and equipment. He said, "As part of those workshops, we’re going to be giving away forty Google Chromebooks to the community as well.’’ 

There was also a beer garden, artisan marketplace, performances by youth groups and a Chinese lion dance on the community stage. 

In the Tech Zone, attendees could learn how to fly a drone inside the large pavilion that also housed organizations that support students and families, like the Hidden Genius Project.  

Oakland Police announced Friday that it would be limiting traffic and providing additional support for Lakefest. Access to side streets was limited to residents. The event was scheduled to end at 7pm. 

Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU Fox 2 News. She can be reached at