August is a busy month for Bay Area antique hobbyists: We've got shows in Benicia and Marin this weekend, San Jose next week and Fremont's Niles at month's end. Get out your calendars and jot down these events.
Benicia is golden
The Benicia Peddler's Fair is celebrating a whopper -- its 50th anniversary -- this year. This shindig, which attracts thousands of collectors, runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on First Street in downtown Benicia.
Started in 1963 with a few tables of goodies outside St. Paul's Church, the show now features about 300 vendors from around the state and country. Organizers expect to fill up all 11 blocks of First Street with booths. The event is sponsored by the Historic Trust of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Admission is free -- as are the views of the Carquinez Strait! From the East Bay and South Bay, take I-680 to I-780 West. Exit at Second Street, then go left under the freeway to Military and follow the signs for parking. Details: 707-745-8680; www.beniciapeddlersfair.org.
Market in Marin
The second Sunday of the month is Aug. 11, and that means the outdoor French Market in picturesque Marin County takes place. Vendors set up booths to offer jewelry, china, silver, glass, vintage clothing and more. After you're done shopping, relax and indulge in an order of yummy crepes.
This show is held the second Sunday of the month through October. If you can't make it this time around, head up on Sept. 8 or Oct. 13. Hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The merriment occurs at the Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. There is no charge for admission or parking. For specifics, ring up 415-383-2252, or see www.goldengateshows.com.
Toys and more
Nostalgia of a different kind will be up for grabs at the San Jose Super Toy, Comic and Collectible Show on Aug. 17.
At this anxiously awaited festival, more than 200 merchants will sell old and modern toys, vinyl records and comic books. There will be robots, board games plus Barbie, Beatles and Batman memorabilia.
Show organizers -- the folks at Time Tunnel Toys in San Jose -- round up celebs from favorite cult movies or TV series to add excitement to the event. This time, actors Julie Adams, John Saxon and Bob Wall are scheduled to appear.
Adams co-starred with Richard Carlson in the classic horror film "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954). I doubt any movie fan could ever forget the scenes of a very frightened Adams being carried off by the menacing prehistoric sea monster. The award-winning actress also appeared in hit TV programs including "Perry Mason" and more recently "CSI New York."
Saxon and Wall will be on hand to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bruce Lee epic martial arts flick "Enter the Dragon" (1973), in which they co-starred.
This is the last major show where Saxon will meet fans and sign autographs. Show organizers said he's looking to take a break from personal appearances after being on the road for the past decade.
Wall, a 9th-degree black belt, may be familiar to local folks. He hails from San Jose and went to James Lick High School.
The fun happens at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Road, San Jose. Hours: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Cost: $15 for early-bird shoppers (9-11 a.m.) or, for the 11 a.m. start time, $6 for adults, $3 for children under 12. Parking: $8. To learn more, call 408-298-1709, or check out www.timetunnelnews.blogspot.com.
A fine faire
The Niles Antique Faire and Flea Market -- now in its 49th year -- occurs Aug. 25. About 200 merchants will display a huge assortment of merchandise along Niles Boulevard in this celebrated town where silent films were once made.
In between shopping at the dealer booths, make sure you inspect the goodies in the antiques shops that line the streets of Niles, a part of the city of Fremont. I like Niles Antiques and Collectibles (37759 Niles Blvd.) and My Friends and I (37521 Niles Blvd.) because of the big selection on parade.
Many collectors I know go to this show to specifically inspect what's being sold at the myriad yard sales that mushroom up on all of the adjacent streets. About 20 years ago, I unearthed a fabulous hand-carved wooden figure of a saint for only $5.
Another reason to head to Niles is to take a leisurely ride on the Niles Canyon Railway. Brought back to life in the 1980s, the train offers two-hour excursions with wine-tasting, or shorter treks. To obtain all information, call 925-862-9063, or see www.ncry.org.
And if you have enough time, head to the Essanay Silent Film Museum at 37417 Niles Blvd., for a journey back to an earlier era. Details: 510-494-1411.
Niles is just off Interstate 680. From San Jose, drive north to the second Mission Boulevard exit. Head north 4 miles. Turn left on Niles Boulevard. Show hours: 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. Specifics: 510-742-9868, or www.niles.org.
Contact Steven Yvaska at email@example.com or 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190.