There’s something about the American Jazz Fest. Long-time staples of major U.S. and world cities, the jazz festival is popping up in smaller cities everywhere, including Benicia. What’s behind the increasing popularity of these events? Jazz has always had a large fan base, but seems to be attracting a new audience. Families and young adults are flocking to the festivals in much larger numbers. Jazz seems to have a cachet that eludes other music genres: it enjoys a more refined image that evokes richness and purpose along with the fun. Perhaps it’s because jazz festivals are often combined with art, as here in Benicia, or wine, as in Healdsburg. Or because many of today’s jazz festivals raise money for charities or nonprofits: ours benefits Benicia Main Street’s coffers to fund downtown events. Healdsburg has a population of fewer than 11,000; yet their jazz fest is a week-long event that takes place in the town square, in local stores, restaurants and vineyards.

This month the Benicia Fine Art and Jazz Festival will enter its third year. It’s a family friendly weekend event happening July 30 & 31. Jazz musicians from the Bay Area and beyond will be performing from 11am-8pm Friday and 11am-6pm Sunday. An art activity area for kids, juried fine art marketplace, and beer, wine and gourmet food round-out the weekend’s offerings.