Park It by Ned MacKay: FAM Fest

A reminder: FAM Fest!, East Bay Regional Park District’s free Fall Arts and Music Festival, is from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Judge John Sutter Regional Shoreline in Oakland.

The event celebrates the district’s 85th anniversary year. The venue is the newly refurbished Bridge Yard building at 210 Burma Road, which is off Maritime Street at the eastern touchdown of the Bay Bridge.

Master of ceremonies will be SaulPaul, a Musician with a Message, who will introduce many local and national artists, musicians and other performers. Fun for the entire family, free of charge.

The Park District was established in 1934 through a grass-roots effort led by community activists of their day, who worked to preserve the East Bay’s beautiful open spaces for wildlife habitat and public recreation. From its modest beginnings, the District has grown to 73 regional parks totaling nearly 125,000 acres with 1,250 miles of trails throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

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There are lots of other family friendly activities going on in the regional parks as well.

For example, Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont offers all kinds of programs for kids and adults alike, including interaction with barnyard animals, tours of the historic Patterson House, old-fashioned lawn games, and rides on the park’s narrow gauge railroad.

Ardenwood is located at 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, just north of Highway 84. The park is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information on programs and admission fees, call 510-544-2797, email, or visit Parking is free.

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Nearby at Coyote Hills Regional Park, Discovery Days is in session from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. Come to the visitor center at 11 a.m. for an introduction to the topic of the week, or drop in at your convenience for hands-on nature exploration and crafts.

Coyote Hills is at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. There’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle; Discovery Days programs are free. Call 510-544-3220.

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Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda has Family Nature Fun from 2 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. And after the nature-themed programs, it’s fish feeding time from 3 to 3:30 p.m. at the center’s large aquarium, stocked with fish from San Francisco Bay.

Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.

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We take rope and string for granted, but people once had to make their own. Learn how to create cordage from three different plant materials during a free class from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Tilden Nature Area near Berkeley, led by naturalist “Trail Gail” Broesder. The activity is for ages seven and older.

Then from 1:30 to 3 p.m. the same day, Gail will preside over human powered apple cider pressing, after which visitors can enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Both programs are at Tilden’s Environmental Education Center, which is at the north end of Central Park Drive. For information, call 510-544-2233.

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Autumn is tarantula time in wildlands throughout the East Bay. It’s when the big guys venture forth in search of females in order to create a new generation of spiders. You may see the hairy but non-aggressive spiders along trails and in fields.

You can meet one in person any time from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29 during a program at the upper parking lot of Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. It’s at the end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4. Call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

And there’s a tarantula trek planned from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29 with naturalist Ashley Adams at Sunol Regional Wilderness in southern Alameda County. The park is at the end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road about five miles south of I-680 and the town of Sunol. Bring a flashlight. For information, call 510-544-3249.

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This is just a sample. There’s always something enjoyable going on in the regional parks. For a full schedule, visit And remember: Fridays are free in the regional parks through the end of the year, in celebration of the district’s 85th.

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