By Gui Oliveira
The third annual Richmond District Autumn Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, was held on Sept. 14 on Clement Street between Sixth and Ninth avenues.
The food festival is considered by many to be a Chinese Thanksgiving in that it celebrates the bounty of the summer harvest and the inclusion of friends and family to share a feast.
The Chinese moon cake adds historical and symbolic meaning to the centuries-old tradition of the festival. The round moon cake symbolizes the reunion of the family and, in more modern days, moon cakes are ceremoniously offered to relatives and friends as a gesture of hope for good fortune and a joyous life.
The celebration included merchant tents along with local community organizations displaying their flamboyant banners.
The festival also gave local organizations an opportunity to reach out to residents about valuable services offered and gave public leaders a chance to showcase their contributions to the community.
Many of the Richmond District’s community leaders were present, including SF Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, state Assemblymember Phil Ting, executive director of the Richmond Neighborhood Center Michelle Cusano and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
“Nothing gets me more excited than celebrating anywhere in San Francisco. The diversity, the community, the history, the love and support that we give when we come together as a community,” Breed told the spectators.
Kids played the Chinese version of musical chairs on a circle of numbers drawn on the pavement in chalk accompanied by a melody that would stop abruptly and start up again in repetition.
On a different segment of the street, people sat around a table playing Mahjong, which is a strategy game similar to rummy.
The Clement Street Merchants Association, founded in 1922, was on hand to share its mission to “plan neighborhood events, advocate for small businesses on local and state issues and create community.”
Other local businesses and organizations took part in the Autumn Moon Festival, including The Richmond Neighborhood Center, Dragon Beard Candy, One RichmondSF, San Francisco Police Department, Community Youth Center of San Francisco and Outside Lands/Western Neighborhood Projects, among many others.
Perhaps the most popular event took place when pets took the stage in the “dog pawgeant” show, hosted by Fewer, in which best trick and best costume prizes were awarded to the winners. The lovable furry creatures swaggered on stage as their owners directed them to perform their best trick. The audience clapped and chanted admiringly to the talented pets. In the end, they all won the affection of the crowd.