Benicia was hopping Thursday evening with live music, local produce, jewelry, flowers, soaps, scarves, sauces, dips, oils, and more! And while the shopping was terrific, it’s clear that this Farmers Market is all about the food. By 4 p.m. First Street was packed with people coming to enjoy the artisan wares and delectable bites located between B and D streets.

Now celebrating its 25th year, the Benicia Certified Farmers Market is a well-oiled machine that draws some of the finest organic farmers and chefs from the area. Last week marked the kick off for the season, and the Benicia Certified Farmers Market will roll out every Thursday evening from 4-8 p.m. through August, then until 7 p.m. in September and October.

“We are very excited about this season and tonight’s turnout,” shares Benicia Main Street Executive Director Nancy Martinez. “We have a few new farmers, some great new foods, and Up Bay Coffee Pedalers is back. After 25 years, I’d say we have one of the best Farmers Markets in the area.”

Located on the Carquinez Strait, Benicia has the perfect climate for an evening market. And it was clear from the crowd that people gathered from near and far to do a little street shopping. And while dogs aren’t allowed in the Farmers Market, many pet owners peruse the perimeter and team up to grab their groceries and hang out at one of the many restaurants with dog-friendly patios.

Many stopped to enjoy their food while taking in a solo saxophone performance, the perfect sound track for this easygoing town. Others did their shopping then settled in at one of the local eateries for drinks, dinner, and more music. There were three additional spots right off First Street to hang with friends and enjoy live music. Guests just needed to follow the beat to find the charming outdoor areas behind Kinder’s Deli on the corner of First and D streets, and behind Lucca Bar & Grill at the corner of First and E streets. The Union Hotel offered jazzy tunes inside its cozy bar at the corner of First and D streets.

In addition to the incredible shopping, food, and music, the Benicia Certified Farmers Market also presents fun activities for kids. Grab your Kettle Corn and head to the First Street Green to burn off that youthful energy in a bounce house. Or engage those creative minds with arts and crafts along the way. Many of the food vendors offer tastes and treats to keep the whole family coming back for more.

Each week will showcase a slightly different array of goods. Most of the farmers only bringwhat is in season and some alternate the weeks they come based on crop yields. This market’s opening night was all about strawberries. Several of the farmers boasted incredible baskets bursting with beautiful, perfectly ripened fruit. And while the crowd was large, this market seemed to have customer service down to a science. The lines were always moving and there was never much of a wait for goods.

And there’s another great reason to check out the market. Host and producer, Benicia Main Street, has a loyalty program to reward return visits. Pop by the tent located at the entrance of the market to pick up your frequent shoppers card. Attend eight markets and receive a bag of fresh, free produce as a perk for showing your support. Participating patrons will also be entered into a drawing held at the end of the season as a final “thank you” for shopping Benicia.