- June 24 – Despicable Me
- July 22 – Yogi Bear
- August 19 – Tangled
Summer break can be L-O-N-G for kids, and parents, too. If you’re looking for outings, take advantage of the cool summer shows being lined up at the Benicia Community Center once it opens (construction on the new center is almost complete – opening TBA). All shows will be $2 per child. As of now, the shows are only tentatively scheduled until the center is completed. Here’s a list of the shows lined up. Closer to the dates, please call (707) 746-4285 for confirmation:
- June 8 – Python Ron’s Reptile Kingdom: Meet the creatures that travel with Python Ron, from 4-inch lizards to18-foot pythons.
- June 23 – Jeremy the Juggler: Be amazed by Jeremy’s juggling antics as he rides his 6-foot unicycle, and be mesmerized by his magic, comedy and fire acts!
- July 6 – Mad Science Show: Witness safe, scientific fun with fire and ice.
- July 20 – Phillip and Henry Magic Show: Take a journey of mystery and magic through an interactive, fun-filled show.
The city offers summer camps for kids, too: camps like Lego Camp, Mad Science Camp, Skate Camp, Adventures Day Camp, Summer Day Camp and field trips for age-groups through eighth grade, various sport camps and more. For information, see the City of Benicia Parks and Community Services Activity Guide.
Summer means outdoor festivals, and Benicia’s got a line-up to keep you coming back again and again. Below are the June and July happenings:
- June 5 – Festival of Art in the Park: Starting at noon, families can participate in the arts and gain a better understanding at this fun event. Families can practice hands-on-art, catch a performing artist, browse the arts and crafts booths and of course, eat some yummy food. The event is at City Park, corner of First Street and Military West. For more information, call (707) 745-2787.
- June 11 – Marché Benicia: Bon jour! A market with a French flair awaits you on First Street from 11 a.m. to 4 pm., with all the elements of a good time – food, wine and entertainment!
- July 3 – Torchlight Parade and Freedom Festival: Starting at 6:30 p.m. on First Street, celebrate Independence Day Benicia-style with a parade, complete with floats, music, dancers, horses, clowns and various entertainment.
- July 4 – Picnic in the Park and Fireworks: From 12 to 7 p.m., food vendors, arts and crafts booths, live entertainment and children’s activities make this a great family tradition. Get to City Park at the corner of First Street and Military West early to claim your spot, because the fireworks begin at 9 p.m., and you’ll want to be settled in before the action!
- July 30 and 31 – Fine Art and Jazz Festival: Top jazz musicians from the Bay Area and beyond will perform at this smooth festival. There’s a juried fine-art marketplace, gourmet food, wine and beer stations to refresh the adults, and kids can enjoy the art activities planned. The festival is from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on First Street.
Also, the Benicia Certified Farmer’s Market on First Street is going on now through the end of October, every Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. Fresh produce, eggs and poultry, delectable baked goods and foods, arts and crafts, entertainment and of course, good times, will be there.
Be sure to visit the events calendar for up-to-date summer events information and a complete, 2011 calendar.
Feeling crafty? Artcentric is a “paint your own pottery” studio located at 733 First Street, a great indoor activity on a hot summer day. For a flat-fee of $6 per person, per piece, you can choose to create pottery, a mosaic or glass. Kids love it – and Artcentric offers summer camps, too! For details, contact the studio at (707) 745-9553.
Got bikini? Pack your towel and head to James Lemos Swim Center for a dip in the pool. Nothing says summer like tan lines, sunscreen, flip-flops and chlorine-hair. Grab your hat and get the kids to the pool at 181 East J Street. For hours and information, call (707) 746-4286.
There are lots of great restaurants in Benicia, too for your summer dining. Treat yourself to a fun day and enjoy the local flavors in this charming city. You’ll find hip cafés, seafood, Mexican fare, Italian, and simple delights like great diner food, charbroiled hamburgers and a classic hot dog joint. To find your favorites, go the restaurant guide.
Downtown Benicia is known for its boutique shops filled with one-of-a-kind items and clever displays. Each has its own unique style – some offering chic, designer clothing fresh from the latest trunk shows, others offering perfect gifts and home-décor treasures. Some even share the same space, like Shirocco’s and Piccolo at 216 First Street. Take a day with your friends to shop Benicia – it’s always fun to discover a new shop to add to your “fave” list.
Also – if you’re feet are in dire need of a pedicure for sandal weather, head to one of the many full-service spas and salons in Benicia that can buff your toes to be pool-side ready! The spa directory has a complete list of spas ready to pamper you.
Don’t get caught without plans this summer – visit the waterfront city of Benicia and discover a new home-away-from-home the entire family will treasure.
- Frequent First Street Shopper Card: People who shop or dine at First Street businesses after 3 p.m. on Thursdays during the Farmers Market season can bring their receipts to the Benicia Main Street booth to receive one hole punch for each receipt. After ten hole punches, shoppers receive a helping of the “Produce of the Week” donated from one of the farmers.
- Farmers Market Frequent Shopper Card: People who shop eight times at the market get a free gift. At the end of the season, collected cards are put into a drawing for a Downtown Benicia Farmers Market shopping bag filled with goodies from Benicia Main Street’s fundraising store located at 90 First Street.
The market will rotate musicians playing each Thursday for a soothing street music vibe. Opening day, Peter Franklin, a solo guitarist playing classic rock, will be strumming his sounds to the crowd. Other musicians booked for the season include Benicia locals Tanya Alota, Kevin Frazier and Rich Flynn. Look forward to a gypsy jazz trio playing three times throughout the season. Plans are in the works for special performances by youth theater and music groups, too.
Also, Kinder’s Custom Meats and Deli, 333 First Street, will have acoustic music on their outside patio Thursday nights during the market, April through October, from 6-9 p.m., so grab a plate of BBQ and sit back to enjoy the sounds.
Mom and dad, bring the kids! The First Street Green will have a bounce house and face painting (tickets can be purchased for a small fee) – a jumpin’ good time for little tykes to exercise, burn off energy, and ensure a good nights sleep!
- Diaz Farms – peaches, grapes, oranges, mandarins
- Erickson Ranch – peppers, chilies
- Great Valley Poultry – brown & white eggs, farm fresh chickens
- Hamlow Ranches – peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, pluots, plums
- Ibarra Farms Organic – organic broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Lettuce, zucchini
- J&J Ramos Farms – almonds, apples, apricots, broccoli, cauliflower, cherries, grapes, nectarines, onions, oranges, peaches, persimmons, plums, pluots, pomegranates, strawberries, tomatoes, walnuts, raisins
- Lujan Farms – apples, oranges, peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, grapes
- Marshall's Farm Honey
- Medrano's Flowers
- Ortiz Farms – raspberries, blackberries, strawberries
- Rainbow Orchards – blueberries, blackberries, peaches
- Resendiz Farms – peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, grapes, pluots, tomatoes, melons
- Sterling Albert Winery
First Street merchants with booths
- Courtyard Customs – face painting, decorated apparel and gifts
- Isabel's Gifts – gourmet international coffees by the bag, stuffed animals, candy, and toys
- TwoDays Jewelry – jewelry and teen accessories
- House of Namaste – bath crystals, soaps, lotions, body wash, incense and body oils will be for sale
- Girl Scout Troop 20634 – selling crafts, bubble wands, jewelry, bookmarks, small note pads and giving out info on Girl Scouts
- The Arc-Solano – handmade earrings, bracelets, necklaces and hand-knitted items will be for sale – made by adults with developmental delay
See you at the market!
Open Studios Group Exhibition
The Open Studios group exhibition, April 14 through May 1, will feature one demonstration piece by each studio artist participating in the upcoming Benicia Artists Open Studios weekend – an extremely popular event attracting visitors from all over the Bay Area intrigued by quality art.
An attraction at the group exhibition this year will be a community effort called the “Mosaic Project.” Arts Benicia gave out over 160 six by six mesonite tiles to artists, kids and community members, of diverse artistic ability, and asked them to create some type of art upon them. The large, colorful, mixed mosaic is displayed on a wall nearly eight feet wide by six feet high, creating a magnificent focal point. The tiles are quite exquisite – and many are of considerable value…
In a unique fundraising effort by and for Arts Benicia, the tiles (numbered on the back) will be sold for $20 each, some of which are worth upwards of $200 – but there’s a clever catch. As in a raffle or lottery, you won’t know which tile you are buying! You can purchase a tile starting April 14, through May 1. At 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, at the end of Open Studios weekend, tile numbers will be pulled out of a hat and will be assigned to the purchaser. The more tiles you buy – the larger the chance will be that you’re purchasing a tile from a well-known artist, therefore the tile could have significant value, not only from a monetary standpoint, but from a collector’s standpoint as well. For instance, if you purchase four to six tiles, you not only end up with an even amount to display a square or rectangle mosaic of tiles on your wall, you also might wind up with at least one very valuable conversation piece in the mix!
Family Art and Fun
Youngsters and their parents can also look forward to Arts Benicia Family Art Day, this Sunday, April 17, from 1-3 p.m. Laura Buchan, program coordinator at Arts Benicia, will be leading arts and crafts activities for hands-on learning and appreciation of art – a fantastic way to enjoy family time, and learn creative skills.
Benicia Artists Open Studios
Get ready, because Benicia Artists Open Studios weekend is just around the corner, April 30 and May 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open Studios presents an unusual opportunity for visitors to meet the artists, tour their studios and purchase original works of art at great prices – a way to discover artists, start a collection, or find new pieces to enhance what you have. Over 60 artist studios will be open to the public. They’ll be sharing their work spaces, and for some, their living spaces, with you. It’s a chance to speak to the artists directly and gain a better vision of their work – an up-close and personal experience.
Make Arts Benicia your first stop, and pick up a map leading to the participating studios, which are:
Brad Adams, Avanti Photography, Hugo Avianto, Nikki Basch-Davis, Robert Bedwell, Benicia Middle School Artists, Brigitte Bize, Paula Boas, Sharon Payne Bolton, Kari Brinck, Mernie Buchanan, Cantrell Portrait Design, Carin Coleridge, Alexandra Connor , Carol Dalton , Pam Dixon, John Ebersole, Fiber-Frolics, Kathleen Flores, Nancy Freeman, Pamela Frey, Judi Morales Gibson, Bea Guttman, Pat Hall, Hip Chick Designs, Erika Hoffe, Linda V. Hubbard, Terry Hughes, Inferno ArtWorks, Mike Kendall, Connie Kirk, Jeanne Lamosse, Belinda Lang, Biganess Livingstone, Katya Madrid, Mike Marcus, Geraldine McKeever, Joseph Mele, Connie Millholland, Susan Mitchell, Cherry Moore, Lindsay Art Glass, Jack Mills, Dixie Mohan, Sam Morse, Jennifer Ngrete, Anne Petty, Plein Air Gallery, Chuck Potter, Robert Quarrick, William Rose, Susan Marcus Sachs, Marilyn Schaeffer, Stephen Schumm, Doug Simon, Smyers Glass, Russell Spitler, Arthur Stern, Debra Stuckgold, Toby Tover-Krein, Michael Trahan, Jerrold Turner, Erika Von Zoog, Lee Wilder Snider, Diane Williams, Sabina Yates, Scott Zoog
Larnie Fox, director of Arts Benicia, shares some great advice in the “Arts Benicia Currents” member newsletter on how to get the most out of Open Studios weekend:
- Invite out-of-town friends; have a special dinner with them afterward.
- Start at Arts Benicia (We have the maps and artist demos.)
- Talk to the artists about their work when you are in their studios. Learning about the art makes for a richer experience of it.
- Visit the fringes; those studios off the beaten path. You won't be sorry.
- Buy something. You will find great bargains. The right piece of art will inspire you and your family for the rest of your life.
- Spread the word!
You can support Arts Benicia by becoming a member or making a donation. Membership forms are available online, or stop by the gallery at 991 Tyler Street, Suite 114, open Thursday through Sunday, 12-5 p.m. For more information, please call Arts Benicia at (707) 747-0131.
11 a.m. – Boardwalk games open
12 p.m. – Lunch, opening ceremony and music
2 p.m. – Blessing of the fleet and decorated boat parade
3 p.m. – Rubber ducky race
3:30 p.m. – Junior sailor’s scavenger hunt
5 p.m. – Awards and raffle drawing
6-8 p.m. – Dinner
8-11 p.m. – Dancing in the Norton Lounge with music by the Voltones
Photo: Benicia Magazine
If you’re planning a wedding, a milestone anniversary or birthday, a retirement or corporate holiday party, Benicia can provide the perfect backdrop for your special day. With its small-town charm, enviable climate and wide variety of local services, Benicia is prepared for your entourage.
Spring planting is a time of renewal and connecting with nature. If you have a green-thumb or you want to spruce up your outdoor living space, Garden Winds, 4950 East Second Street, has patio furniture, garden tools, fountains and statuary, pots, planters and more. Benicia Garden and Beads, 126 East E Street, has a bounty of gardening apparel. Find the perfect wide-brimmed hat to keep your face and neck shaded while tending garden, or an arbor apron, with plenty of working pockets for gloves, hand-shovels, seeds and much more. Pedrotti Ace Hardware, 830 Southampton Road, is a local, family-owned hardware store, outfitted with potting soil, gardening tools, fertilizer, pots, starter plants and other items to get your garden growing. And through the end of April, when customers make donations at their store to the American Red Cross Japan Quake Fund, they will match your donation, dollar-for-dollar!
- Lindsay Art Glass, 109 East F Street, (707) 748-1336
- Nourot Glass Studio, 675 East H Street, (707) 745-1463
- Smyers Glass, 675 East H Street, (707) 745-2614
Art: Exhibits, Poetry, Art Classes and More
Arts Benicia is Benicia’s non-profit community arts center and gallery, located at 991 Tyler Street, Suite 114. Throughout the year, they host several events and exhibitions that support the local art community. This spring, don’t miss:
Next Generation, Now through April 3, a showcase of young talent – art created by children in grades K-8, residing or attending school in Benicia. The event is an opportunity for many young artists to have their work recognized in a public format, and to share and celebrate the power and integrity of art through the mind’s eye of a child. Arts Benicia events in conjunction with the exhibit are:
- Family Art Day, Sunday, March 20, 1-3 p.m. Family Art Day provides a fun, hands-on afternoon for kids and their parents to enjoy art projects, learn art techniques and connect with each other and the community. Refreshments will be served.
- Visual Arts and Cognitive Development Lecture with Bonnie Weidel, Thursday, March 31, 6:30-8:30 p.m. For further details, contact Arts Benicia, (707) 747-0131.
Open Studios at the Arsenal arts district is Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. The studios are located on Jackson, Tyler, Lincoln and Grant streets. It’s a unique opportunity to meet the artists inside their studios and see their new, thought-provoking works of art. More than 60 studios will be open to the public for the two days. Painters, sculptors, woodturners, photographers, illustrators, metal smiths, ceramicists and jewelry designers can be found throughout the city, but most studios are primarily concentrated in the Benicia’s Arsenal arts district – a small walkable area, making it possible to see various artists and artisans in one central location.
In conjunction with Open Studios, there will be a group exhibition at Arts Benicia, April 14 through May 1, 991 Tyler Street, Suite 114, open Thursday through Sunday, 12-5 p.m., and Family Art Day will be April 16, 1-3 p.m., promising to be a fun outing for families.
Arts Benicia also has a well-rounded schedule of classes this spring to get your artistic veins pumping. Discover your passion at classes that teach fantasy and imagination, such as plein air painting, painting, printmaking, collage monotype printmaking and figure drawing. For complete class descriptions, cost and registration, please visit the Arts Benicia website or call (707) 747-0131.
Teen poets can celebrate National Poetry Month at the Benicia Public Library, Friday, April 1, 5-7 p.m., at their poetry slam and open mic night. This beat-poet, coffeehouse-style event will be a full of java, treats and bongos! Bring your favorite poems to read – whether you or someone else wrote them, or choose a poem at the event.
Live theater is one of life’s pleasures and Benicia’s community theater, Benicia Old Town Theater Group (BOTTG), has been producing high-quality, theatrical entertainment for 47 years. This spring, BOTTG will be showing “The Nerd,” opening April 15 and running through May 7, on weekends. “The Nerd” is set in Terre Haute, Indiana, in late 1979. It centers on the goofy dilemma of a Vietnam War veteran visited by a fellow ex-GI who saved his life after he was seriously wounded, and whom he had never met. The “nerd” overstays his welcome, creating one hysterical moment after another. To find out more about BOTTG, or to purchase tickets, please visit the BOTTG website for details.
Regular readers of this blog may remember that Benicia has plenty of options for those in need of some comedy relief. The Benicia Historical Museum’s Stone Hall Comedy Series, located at 2024 Camel Road is the place to be. Purchase tickets online for only $20 each, and you’ll be thoroughly entertained by known headliners Mike Pace or Rocky LaPorte. Each has a top-notch opening act to warm up your funny bone. Beer and wine will be available for purchase. Here’s the scoop:
- Saturday, March 26, 8 p.m., comedian Mike Pace will make you cry with laugher. The Chicago Tribune says Mike’s “a chameleon mastering everyday characters.” He’s been on comedy shows like HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Aspen Comedy Arts Festival,” and he was an Emmy nominee for HBO’s “Comic Relief.” Opening for Mike is Maggie Newcomb – a sassy six-foot blonde who was the winner of the 2004 Battle of the Bay Comedy Competition hosted by the San Jose Improv, and a semi finalist in the 2005 California’s Funniest Female competition.
- Saturday, April 30, 8 p.m., the spotlight is on Rocky LaPorte. Rocky’s performance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” brought him a standing ovation. He's been featured on his own "Comedy Central Presents,” currently running on Comedy Central, among many things. Opening for Rocky is Andrew Norelli – whose humor is part social commentary, part random absurdity – has been seen on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.”
For more information on the comedy series, please call (707) 745-5435.
So, put some zing in your spring by heading to Benicia for festivals, art, entertainment, fashion and fun. You’ll want to keep coming back!
Next week: All eyes are on at least one big wedding coming up this spring. If you’re planning a wedding, there’s something you should know about a very special venue in your own backyard.
What People are Discovering About Benicia
Spring is around the corner and Benicia celebrates that renewal in many ways – from fresh-air and outdoor markets to the new spring clothing lines hitting local window displays. This is the first in a two-part series on all there is to do here the next few months. Spring is the season that turns our thoughts to getting out and enjoying what the Bay Area offers. Here are some highlights of springtime in Benicia:
Markets, festivals and events:
The season kicks off with Benicia in Bloom, March 26-27 – a few days to “go green” featuring earth-friendly displays and demonstrations from Bay Area non-profits and eco-partners. This family activity includes sidewalk chalk artists, face painting and a visit from Peter Cottontail! First Street merchants and restaurants will have tastings, trunk shows, demonstrations and prize drawings. If you would like details about the event, contact Benicia Main Street at (707) 745-9791.
Bait your hooks and reel in the fun during the Salty Dog Fishing Tournament at the Benicia Marina, 266 East B Street, March 19-20, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. To enter the tournament, register at the Benicia Marina office, 266 East B Street, Benicia Yacht Club, 400 East 2nd Street or Benicia Bait & Tackle, 509 Claverie Way. The entry fee is $20. The Benicia Yacht Club will host an awards ceremony and spaghetti dinner at the end of the tournament. For more information, please call the Benicia Marina at (707) 745-2628.
Hippity-hop over to see the Easter Bunny, Sunday, April 24 from 12 to 2 p.m., at the Benicia Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt, located at Benicia City Park, corner of Military West and First Street. The event is free and welcomes children ages 2-10 for face painting, candy, prizes, live music, and of course, an appearance by the cotton-tailed Easter Bunny. The event begins at noon, and the egg hunt begins at 1 p.m. Make sure to bring an Easter basket for all the eggs you’ll be scooping up!
The Certified Farmers Market opens April 28, happening each Thursday through the end of October. From 4-8 p.m., the family-friendly open-air market on First Street hums with vendors, where you’ll find fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, earthy baked goods, gourmet food, gorgeous arts and crafts and live musical entertainment. Kids can enjoy pony rides and face painting, too. Bring your reusable shopping bags to stuff with seasonal produce and other local treats to create a delicious, healthy meal at home. Remember to pick a lovely floral bouquet before you leave to decorate the table.
Get revved-up for the Benicia Classic Car Show on May 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Go back in time by spending the day among classic-car enthusiasts. Groove to oldies music from Benicia’s own Jason Diavatis of Bay Area Entertainment. Benicia’s High School Jazz Band will perform at approximately 11 a.m. Enjoy hourly raffle prize drawings and doo-wop your way through the selection of food vendors.
Fitness and getting back to nature:
Do you love to hike? Benicia’s Parks and Community Services Department sponsors Saturday hikes twice per month – weather permitting. The fee for each hike is only $3 per person, collected by the trip leader, Bob Colby, the day of each hike. Typically, hikes are six to eight miles at a moderate pace – not a race, but brisk, with time to stop, take in the views and smell the flowers. Meet up with the group at 8:15 a.m. the day of the hike at the parking lot behind Benicia City Hall, 250 East L Street, where you’ll then carpool to the destination (to share the cost of parking fees and bridge tolls). For further hike information, please call Bob Colby at (707) 745-4661 or e-mail Bob at email@example.com. Upcoming spring hikes are:
- April 2, Mount Diablo Waterfalls
- April 16, Muir Woods and Mount Tam
- May 7, Point Reyes Arch Rock
- May 21, Coyote Hills East Bay Regional Park
The waterfront is a great place for a brisk walk or bike ride. Get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the Carquinez Strait – a view to savor from many spots in and around Benicia. The downtown waterfront area in Benicia encompasses the Waterfront Promenade, Benicia Point Pier and First Street Green. Beyond downtown, the waterfront is accessible at many spots on the southern edge of Benicia, via pedestrian and bike routes from the Benicia Marina to West 14th Street, and then outdoor recreation areas that extend further west along the Strait. If you’re visiting, you can rent a mountain bike from Wheels in Motion, 735 First Street, for $20 a day, (707) 746-8856.
Are you a new mother needing to get back in shape this spring? Join Misty Cochrane’s Stroller Strides – a fitness program for new moms where babies come along for the ride! Both residents and non-residents welcome. The routine includes a warm-up, power-walking with intervals of body toning using exercise tubing (provided) and your stroller, stretching and a cool-down. The classes are taught by trained instructors and are great for any fitness level. Babies have fun during the workouts, while songs are sung. For details on cost, times and location, please visit the Stroller Strides website or call (800) 973-7904. You can also email Misty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
James Lemos Swim Center – Not every community offers a pool, and luckily, Benicia has one to cool your jets and get you fit at 181 East J Street, (707) 746-4286. The pool is open this spring for lap swim - a low-impact way to exercise, and also open for swim lessons. For times and information, visit the City of Benicia’s website for details. Benicia has a local swim-team, the Benicia Sting Rays. If your kids love to swim, and you’re looking for a sport that is team-spirited as well as individually focused, a swim team can be the perfect fit.
If your skin has taken a beating over the harsh, drying winter months – then face it, you can’t stay hidden under long-sleeves forever. It’s time to get buffed, polished and perfected for the short-sleeves, flip-flops and bikini months. Benicia spas are ready to serve you with an array of services for your specific skincare needs. You can even opt for an airbrush tan to bronze the winter-blues away. For a complete listing, go to the spa directory. Get ready to be pampered!
Next week, we’ll be discussing the incredible shopping options and the spring art scene in Benicia, as well as what’s happening around town. Stay tuned!