Three First Street events should appeal to just about anybody looking for enjoyment and treasures in Benicia’s historic downtown. All three incorporate the street and waterfront serving as a background for fun, tasty delights; the possibility of finding cool collectibles or antique treasures, and cultural offerings through film. In one event you can sample food from the street’s many restaurants, nibbling your way from block by block to culinary satisfaction. Another is rooted in Benicia’s antiques tradition—and features browsing through hundreds of booths of antiques and collectibles of all kinds—hunting for that special find. The third promises a great lineup of 38 short films.
The Benicia Peddlers Fair takes place 8am-5pm Saturday, Aug. 13. First Street, from J Street to the waterfront, is blocked off to vehicle traffic to accommodate antiques dealers, artists, crafters, food vendors and treasure-seekers, with crowds expected to number between 20,000 and 25,000. Dating back to 1963, the annual event began with First Street merchants, antiques dealers, plus members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Over the years, the fair has grown by leaps and bounds but is still held to its original purpose of raising money to maintain St. Paul’s historic church buildings. Ten percent of the fair’s proceeds also go to community groups. Several years ago, the church brought in local antiques newspaper columnist Steve Yvaska to offer individuals appraisals of treasures from home, or those bought at the fair, said church member and event organizer Julie MacKenzie. The event is free to the public.
Later in the month, food is the treasure during the annual Taste of First Street, an evening of food and wine, that takes place 6-9pm, Tuesday, Aug. 23. Sponsored by Benicia Main Street, the event began in 2008 and has grown in popularity, said event coordinator Deborah Houseman. “People just love it,” she said. “It’s a chance to celebrate restaurants and First Street,” she added. “Tasters” buy tickets beforehand, and then stroll up and down First Street, having a bite at participating restaurants as they go. Tickets can be purchased at Benicia Main Street, 90 First St., or online at benciamainstreet.org. The day of the event, ticket prices go up a bit so order in advance. Besides tastings at the restaurants, event-goers also receive two glasses of wine and a souvenir wine glass. For more info call 707.745.9791.
Following a huge success its first two years, the Benicia Film Festival will run again this year September 2-4. Sponsored by the Benicia Arts and Culture Commission, all films shown are short films, the shortest being five minutes and the longest, twenty minutes. Thirty-eight films in all will be shown over the three-day period. Hundreds of people throughout the Bay Area took came to participate in 2015, during which several award-winning films were screened. New this year is that the festival will be located entirely downtown instead of partly at Benicia High School. Filmmakers will be speaking throughout the event. Friday, September 2, a gala with films, music, appetizers and a no host bar will be held at the Benicia Veterans’ Hall, 6-8:30pm. For a list of films or more information, visit beniciafilmfestival.com. For tickets, visit the website, the library or Benicia Main Street.