Pleasanton's annual 1st Wednesday street parties are back, starting at 6 p.m.tonight.
The event, featuring new wine garden, entertainment by local students and more live music than ever before, ushers in summer-long public festivities to enhance the city's downtown shopping, dining and socializing opportunities.
"This year we are committed to further enhancing our popular 1st Wednesday Street Parties so that all ages can enjoy a fun and festive night in downtown Pleasanton," said Laura Olson, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association (PDA)..
Tonight at 1st Wednesday,s about 15-20 students from Amador Valley and Foothill high schools will have their science and innovation projects displayed along the 300 block of St. Mary Street, and the Foothill Jazz Ensemble along with the Amador Bollywood Club will provide entertainment at the street fair.
Art students from the two high schools will also be showcasing work during ArtBlock. About 30 artists are expected to submit work to be displayed on Angela Street.
Attendees age 21 and older will find that during 1st Wednesdays, live music will be played inside the all-new downtown wine garden along with some of the most recognizable local wines being served by the glass.
"We are excited about our new partnerships with local schools and organizations and new activities like our improved and elevated Wine Garden," Olson said.
In past years there was a beer and wine garden at 1st Wednesdays, but in 2014 PDA decided to eliminate the alcohol area from the event.
"The response from the community was that they didn't want to bring their families to 1st Wednesdays anymore because they felt like the beer and wine garden had created a different element that wasn't so family friendly," said Julie Vlahon, PDA's events and communication manager.
Upon resident request, PDA officials decided to revamp the outdoor-alcohol concept for this year in the form of a wine garden sponsored by the Alameda County Wine Competition.
"Last year some people did miss the beer and wine garden, so this year we thought, 'Let's start small and just bring back wine.' So we are trying to slowly reintroduce it," Vlahon said.
"We are definitely open to possibly bringing beer back, but no decision has been made on that," she added. The wine garden, to be located at 530 Main St., will be significantly smaller than the beer and wine garden, with a capacity of 500 as opposed to the prior limit of 1,500.
Food Truck Mafia is another new element coming to downtown Pleasanton, with the company providing five different trucks each month, according to Vlahon.
"This is food that you can grab and go and enjoy the rest of the event, and it's food you can't find downtown," Vlahon said. "We want people to frequent our restaurants and sit down, but for those families who don't want to eat at a restaurant, this will be something different."
Some of the 1st Wednesday themes include "Jump into Summer" for June 3, the "Red, White & Blue" celebration on July 1 in honor of Independence Day and "Dog Days of Summer" where pups are invited for the pooch parade down Main Street on Aug. 5.
In addition to the eventful 1st Wednesday schedule, residents can also start marking their calendars for a summer full of downtown activities hosted by the PDA.
About two weeks after the May 6 Cinco De Mayo-themed 1st Wednesday kick-off will be the Antique and Collectibles Faire set for May 24. Nearly 400 antique dealers will have booths lining Main Street from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., some of them selling items more than 20 years old.
This admission-free event will be the place where attendees can find antique and collectible clothing, furniture, jewelry, toys and other items that have been repurposed and upcycled. Event organizers say the faire is "an antique and collectible lover's dream."
June 5 marks the start of Pleasanton's annual, well-attended Concert in the Park series with rock band OTR as the first performers of the season. Every Friday night through Aug. 28 a different band will play at Lions Wayside Park, located on the corner of First and Neal streets.
A variety of musical genres will be represented throughout the concert series including rock, blues, soul and Latin rock. The free concerts begin each week at 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Several bands in this summer's lineup have previously performed at Concerts in the Park, but four new bands will also be introduced including the local folk/bluegrass group Crawdad Republic, The Banned playing '80s hits, contemporary rock band The Apes, and Max Cruise which performs a variety of music from rock, pop and R&B.
Georgi and the Rough Week is returning to Concerts in the Park after a several-year hiatus from performing at the event.
Other bands slated to perform are Burton & Co., The Cooltones Big Band, Ruckatan Latin Tribe, West Grand Boulevard, Tommy and the 4 Speeds, Magic Moments and Public Eye, which is set to close out the series on Aug. 28.
The Summer Wine Stroll also returns to downtown Pleasanton this year, an event during which residents can sample a variety of wines and food tastings from local establishments and wineries. About 25 to 30 businesses are expected to participate.
In previous years, more than 1,000 people made their way downtown for the wine stroll. In addition to sipping and snacking, guests also receive a commemorative wine glass and event map. The stroll is scheduled for July 18 from 5-8 p.m. Tickets are set to go on sale in June, according to Vlahon.
Sizzling Saturdays -- returning in August and September from 6-9 p.m. -- will be another opportunity for residents to listen to live music while shopping and dining downtown along with the new weekly "Sunday Fundays" set for August which will be more kid focused and interactive.
"Inside every shop they're going to do something new. For example, Clover Creek might do a bow demonstration for how to make the perfect bow or one of our restaurants might do a quick cooking demonstration. So it's going to be more activities inside the businesses," Vlahon said.
Almost every downtown PDA event will be accompanied by live performances from various artists including a country band from Livermore called Steel Rose and Maddy Hudson, the Pleasanton teen who made it to the top 30 on this season of "American Idol."
"We're really trying to ramp it up this year," Vlahon said. "We take the community voices we hear and definitely the businesses downtown and what they have to tell us, and then we take that to try to figure out something new and fresh that we can do to make these events more exciting for the businesses to participate and for the people who come down to enjoy them."
In addition to the PDA events set for this summer, the Firehouse Arts Center located downtown at 4444 Railroad Ave. has a summer lineup of shows scheduled including the Super Diamond First-Class tribute to Neil Diamond concert in May and a performance by rockabilly and jazz musician Jinx Jones in June.
The Harrington Gallery at the Firehouse is set to open new exhibits including "Fresh Works V" from May 2 through June 6, which displays the work of 72 Bay Area artists. The "Repurposed" exhibit is set to debut at the gallery on June 23 showcasing art pieces made from discarded materials.
Museum on Main will continue its Ed Kinney Speaker Series throughout the summer hosting evening talks with historical characters such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt on June 9 and Andrew Carnegie on Aug. 11.
The Pleasanton Lions Club will also host its annual Hometown Celebration at Lions Wayside Park to celebrate Independence Day on July 4 during which residents can picnic and listen to live patriotic tunes played by The Pleasanton Community Concert Band.
Concerts in the Park
6/12 Burton & Co.
6/19 Crawdad Republic
6/26 Georgi and the Rough Week
7/3 Ruckatan Latin Tribe
7/10 West Grand Boulevard
7/24 The Banned
7/31 The Apes
8/7 Tommy and the 4 Speeds
8/14 Max Cruise
8/21 Magic Moments
8/28 Public Eye
Learn more about downtown events
* PDA: www.pleasantondowntown.net
* Firehouse: www.firehousearts.org
* Lions Club: www.pleasantonlionsclub.org
* Museum on Main: www.museumonmain.org