OysterFence In Place, Vendors Setting Up

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The end cap is placed on the H Street sidewalk at Luke’s Joint, which will be excluded from the OysterFest along with the eight businesses between there and Eighth Street. Photos by KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

PLAZA – The fence is up, the booths are in place and the 2013 Arcata Main Street Oyster Festival is ready to provide savory slurpage to the masses.

At 3 a.m., a crew from the Craftsman’s Mall arrived to install the controversial chainlink fence. Arcata Main Street Director Jennifer Koopman assisted with placement of the fence segments while taking down last night’s “No Parking” signs and picking up litter, such as an empty champagne bottle, from the Plaza.

Arcata Main Street Director Jennifer Koopman urges the custodian at Everett's to move his car off the Plaza.

Arcata Main Street Director Jennifer Koopman urges the custodian at Everett’s to move his car off the Plaza.

The Craftsman’s crew made steady, systematic work of the fence installation. Starting at Eighth and F streets, they worked their way down to Seventh Street, installing an entry point there. Then they created the enclosed corridor that will allow free access to People’s Records and All Under Heaven.

Proceeding to Eighth and H streets, the fence installers set up that corner’s entry checkpoint, then constructed the sidewalk corridor up H Street which ends at Luke’s Joint. Businesses from there south will be fenced off from the festival, but freely accessible to the public.

The H Street pedestrian corridor was a last-minute concession to Luke Patterson, who mounted a vigorous “Funk the Fence” campaign this week to prevent the enclosure of the Plaza.

The New Oyster Order.

The New Oyster Order.

Thursday, Patterson’s attorney, Chris Hamer, sent Main Street an e-mail message stating that a temporary restraining order (TRO) would be sought to halt the fence plan. The TRO was part of a planned lawsuit against Main Street, Hamer said.

Patterson said he had changed his mind and would open Luke’s Joint during the festive, and demanded a customer “validation” system to allow patrons free access to his restaurant without paying the entry fee.

The legal threat led to an 11th hour revision to the fencing plan – the creation of the free access corridor along H Street to Luke’s Joint. That modification hemorrhaged arrangements with the eight businesses between the restaurant and Eighth Street, which had expected to be within the OysterFest. Koopman had already provided those businesses’ employees with free passes to the festival, as was done for all the businesses within the enclosed area.

By dawn, the fence was installed, volunteers had arrived and vendor booths were going up. The effectiveness and any unintended consequences of the unprecedented enclosure/admission plan will soon become known.

Visit the Arcata Eye’s Facebook page through the day for updates on the Oyster Festival.

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