In an effort to introduce the community to an unknown yet integral piece of its economy, Redwood City plans to host the inaugural PortFest on Oct. 2.
The city is seeking to reintroduce the Port of Redwood City to San Mateo County and the rest of the Bay Area, showcasing it as a working waterfront rather than an industrial zone. Organizers hope to make PortFest an annual event.
As the only deep-water port in the southern Bay, the area is an important piece of the region’s economy, providing many residents with high-paying jobs. The PortFest planning committee, however, hopes to publicize the many recreational opportunities associated with the port and to open it up as a local community resource.
“We want to raise community awareness and invite people to see the port,” port Commissioner Lorianna Kastrop said. “Redwood City is a future stop on the San Francisco ferry system, and we want to introduce the community to the prospects involved with having an established ferry facility.”
Redwood City is working with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority to conduct studies on the environmental impact of a running ferry system.
PortFest will provide an opportunity for community members to see what’s being planned for the waterfront. The free all-day event is open to the public and involves various activities geared toward connecting residents with the historic waterfront.
All activities are currently tentative, Kastrop said, but plans include behind-the-scenes tours of the port, a pancake breakfast at the yacht club, water activities, a walk/run on the waterfront, and all-day music and plenty of food vendors.
The Marine Science Institute will provide activities for kids, and the San Mateo History Museum will put on demonstrations to further acquaint the public with the inner workings of the port.
PortFest comes at a time when other San Mateo County departments have been forced to cut back on spending. According to Kastrop, the port budget regularly includes a small amount of money set aside for public events. However, the primary funding for PortFest is coming from the resources originally meant for a Fourth of July celebration in collaboration with San Mateo County. Redwood City canceled its fireworks show this year.
“Everyone has been forced to cut back, so we are reallocating prior event funds for PortFest,” Kastrop said. “We are also relying on participation from local groups, as well as support from industrial tenants at the port.”