On the first Sunday of every May and October, the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce turns Downtown Lodi into a unique destination.

Beginning before dawn, vendors, volunteers and other workers will be bustling to set up one of the biggest outdoor markets in Northern California.

The Lodi Street Faire returns this weekend, with vendors selling unique artwork, antiques, hand-crafted items, collectibles, food and more throughout 14 square blocks along School and Church streets.

“We’re really excited,” said Elisa Bubak, the communications director for the Chamber of Commerce.

The Vendors

More than 500 vendors will be at this weekend’s Street Faire. About 40 percent of the vendors this year are new to the Street Faire, some local and some from as far away as Nevada and Oregon.

The Lodi Street Faire is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Bubak said. One of the vendors will be selling hand-crafted fishing lures, she added.

“If you’ve got a dad who likes to fish, find this guy,” she said.

Other vendors will be personalizing gifts, making them a must-stop for anyone looking for gifts for graduations, weddings and families welcoming new babies.

Many of the vendors come to Lodi only for the Street Faire, but others will return for the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market, Festa Italiana and other upcoming Lodi events.

Old-Fashioned Polly

A family-owned dairy farm based in West Point in the Sierra foothills, Old-Fashioned Polly makes butters, oils. soaps, lotions, lip balms and more using milk from their herd of Nubian and Toggenburg goats. They also make beard oil, healing salves and soy candles, among other handicrafts.

Lodi Barrel Designs

What makes Lodi Barrel Designs unique?

“They take wine barrels and repurpose them into some very cool, key features,” Bubak said.

They’ve turned old wine barrels into clocks, pet beds, garbage pails, signs, candle holders, guitar stands — even full bars.

La Loretta’s Floral Truck

Shoppers can create their own bouquet at La Loretta’s, an old 1967 Volkswagen van repurposed into a flower truck. For owner Gianna of Linden, it’s a family tradition — her grandmother Loretta had a green thumb and a flower garden bursting with life, and great-grandmother Ida owned Memory Florist in Stockton for more than three decades.

Matt’s Metal Art

Using car parts and scrap metal, Matt creates wall art featuring butterflies, trees and American flags, clocks, signs, yard art and more. Each of the Lodi-based artist’s handmade pieces, from flowers and birds to flying pigs and Halloween ghosts, is unique.

Lodi Lions Club

The Lions Club won’t be a traditional vendor. Instead of selling anything, the service organization will be working with Vision Service Plans to offer free vision exams and eyeglasses to those in need at the Street Faire.

The booth is part of a long-standing campaign by Lions Club chapters all over the world to aid people with visual impairments. Ever since they were challenged by Helen Keller in 1925, the club has worked to provide glasses, vision screenings and other services to those who need them, along with other community service efforts, student scholarships, and volunteer work.

Fragrant Farmhouse

Run by sister team Ashley Bass and Emily Williams, Fragrant Farmhouse offers up scented candles in mason jars, soaps and sugar scrubs.

The Fun

There will be plenty for kids — or kids at heart — who need a break from the shopping.

Fan favorites Water Ballers will return to the children’s area, and kids can purchase tickets to go for a roll in the giant, floating balls.

“They’re taking up half a block,” Bubak said.

The Lodi Police and Lodi Fire departments have teamed up once again for their Public Safety Open House, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be tours, police and fire equipment on display, and the police will allow the public to check out their visual reality training simulator.

The U.S. Army will bring a collection of vehicles to display, allowing visitors to get an inside look. They’ll also host some games and contests, including a bean bag toss tournament and a pushup competition.

And there will be various other hands-on activities and entertainment around the Faire, including a Cinco de Mayo performance at the chamber’s Hispanic Business Committee booth.

The Food (and Drinks)

As usual, the Lodi Street Faire will be able to satisfy just about any foodie’s craving.

“It’s a smorgasbord. Anything you want is here,” Bubak said.

Food vendors will be serving up pizza, sandwiches, dishes from India, Mexico and the Philippines, and more.

As for dessert?

“We have everything from Costa’s Finest Kettle Corn — he’s a staple to our market — to Sweet Mel’s,” Bubak said.

There is one big change this year. In the past, the Chamber of Commerce has sold water and soda at a few key spots throughout the Street Faire. But the chamber has launched a new project this year, the Healthy Lodi Initiative, seeking to help local residents make healthier choices.

“As a chamber, we can’t say that we support the Healthy Lodi Initiative and then sell gallons and gallons of soda at our events,” Bubak said.

While each of the food vendors at the Faire will still be able to sell soda, lemonade and coffee drinks, the chamber has made the decision to offer alternatives: sparkling water, sugar-free Zevia sodas, and Propel flavored waters alongside plain bottled water.

Zevia uses stevia-based sweetener and natural flavors rather than syrups and aspartame, but it’s still soda, Bubak said.

“We had a taste test here, and quite a few of our employees and the Street Faire volunteers were shocked at how good these drinks are,” she said.

The chamber’s booths will also include posters and information about nutrition, sodas, and preventing type 2 diabetes.

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