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Spice of Life Festival to kick off Saturday

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2011

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtTpIgkiSQM&w=560&h=315]
Berkeley residents can sizzle, shake and stir it up Saturday at the ninth annual Spice of Life Festival in North Berkeley.

The festival — put on by non-profit North Shattuck Association — will kick off Saturday in the Gourmet Ghetto at Vine Street and Shattuck Avenue, where visitors can participate in wine tasting, shop for art or get a safety inspection for their bikes.

Google Offers, a subscription service that connects customers to local businesses, is one of the main sponsors of the event. The company, which approached the North Shattuck Association a few months ago, said the event is designed to offer promotions from North Berkeley businesses and attract new subscribers to the website.

In honor of Park(ing) Day 2011 — an event in which metered parking spaces are turned into temporary parks — the festival event planners have taken over several parking spaces and created parklets where customers can sit and listen to music while sampling an eclectic mix of food from eateries participating in the celebration in the Gourmet Ghetto.

Heather Hensley, executive director of the North Shattuck Association, said the event is about bringing people into the neighborhood and the celebration of true gourmet food.

“This year we focused on including local businesses and artisan vendors,” Hensley said. “We shrank the footprint of the event making the main focus food, wine and art.”

Proceeds from beer, wine and soda sales will benefit the Berkeley High Jazz program and The Edible Schoolyard Project. Hippie Gypsy, a new restaurant in the Gourmet Ghetto, will join festival favorites such as Edible Excursions and Soop.

Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, who lives and represent the district in which the festival is located, said he has participated in the event for the last three years and will set up a booth this year so he can meet his neighbors and answer their questions.

“The festival highlights local businesses on North Shattuck and hopefully it encourages people to come out,” he said. “In addition to the good food and cool entertainment, it is a community building opportunity.”


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SEPTEMBER 18, 2011