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Spend a splendid Sunday at the Lodi Street Faire

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Posted: Saturday, May 6, 2017 7:30 am

Long before dawn on Sunday, Downtown Lodi will be a bustling hive of activity.

“My favorite part is probably 8 o’clock in the morning, because the dance in the dark is just ending,” said Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce. “By that I mean we have 500 vendors showing up around 3:30 in the morning, and they have to unpack and get their cars out of the way by 7:30 so we can open it up to pedestrians by 8.”

Patrick and other Chamber officials and dozens of volunteers will zip back and forth on golf carts, solving any number of small emergencies and making sure each vendor finds their assigned space and has everything they need to get started.

“There’s just a million things going on,” Patrick said.

But by the time the sun is up and shining at 8 a.m., the 55th Lodi Street Faire will have come together to create the largest one-day street fair in Northern California.

“That’s my favorite time, when it all comes together and all gets rolling,” Patrick said.

The Street Faire began in 1990 when volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce wanted an event to bring visitors to Lodi.

Over the decades, the event has transformed from a antique faire to an antique and craft faire. It is held the first Sunday of each May and October, averaging more than 30,000 visitors at each event.

On Sunday, about 500 vendors will set up along 14 blocks of Downtown Lodi, on School and Church streets and several of the cross streets in between.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on is ... most of our vendors are hand-made crafts and antiques,” said Carmen Ross, the Chamber’s communications director.

Many large street fairs are mainly filled by commercial vendors, but not Lodi’s, she said. From the antiques and crafts dealers right down to the vendors in the food court, most are independently owned and many are local.

About 150 of those vendors will be new to the Street Faire.

“There’s always new things. Most of those are arts and crafts, but we have some new folks on the antiques street and new commercial vendors as well,” Patrick said.

Even though they worked at the Street Faire making donuts for 13 years, the old favorites and new vendors bring Lodi City Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce and her mother back every year. Of course, now they go as shoppers, not sellers.

“It’s nice to go and not work,” Mounce said. Not that working at the fair wasn’t fun, she was quick to add, but after 13 years, those 12-hour days began to feel much longer.

Now, she and her mother go before church to beat the crowds, and they try not to ever miss it.

“The Street Faire’s always a good time,” she said.

Patrick agreed. From the busy set-up to the live remotes with TV stations in the early morning hours to a little Lockeford Sausage for a snack, he never gets tired of the dance. There’s always something new to see, he said.

“Every Street Faire’s a little different,” Patrick said.

Lodi News-Sentinel Editor Scott Howell and staff writer Danielle Vaughn contributed to this report.

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