San Juan Day merchants. Photo courtesy of Fran Fitzgerald.
San Juan Day merchants. Photo courtesy of Fran Fitzgerald.

On Aug. 13, businesses in San Juan Bautista will break with tradition to reinvent its yearly San Juan Day street fair with pop-up “chicken coop” markets, a flea market at the VFW hall and a citywide garage sale.

“It is just a simple celebration of our community and all things that are San Juan,” said Brewery Twenty Five co-owner Fran Fitzharris. “It’s everything we love about the town, from chickens to antiques and beyond.”

Rather than the usual practice of closing down Third Street and inviting outside vendors to set up booths—which organizers are calling “chicken coops” as a nod to the birds which wander through the town—10 locations in town will be hosting a curated selection of independent businesses in their coops from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s all local,” said Sarah Griss, owner of Lolla. “Every single vendor that we’ve invited is running a small business. And a lot of what they sell is handmade.

Maps to all the coops, as well as the citywide garage sale locations, will be available. Visitors are encouraged to visit each coop to get their maps stamped. Completed maps can be turned in at the 18th Barrel for a chance to win prizes donated by local businesses.

A version of this pop-up event was held last year and attracted 5,000 visitors after plans did not come together for the annual Antiques Festival, the third in the usual series of San Juan celebrations following the Arts and Crafts Festival in March and the San Juan Bautista Rib Cook Off in May. 

“The Rotary Club had been doing the antique festival for many years and then decided not to do it,” said Wanda Gilbert, president of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society. “So we decided to take it up in some kind of fashion just to keep the tradition going.”

Chicken coops will be located at:

  • The 18th Barrel, 322 Third Street
  • Bear’s Hideaway, 402 Third Street
  • Credo Studio, 1 Polk Street
  • El Teatro Campesino, 705 Fourth Street
  • Hawk’s Peak Plaza, 106 Third Street
  • Jardines de San Juan, 115 Third Street
  • Luna Gallery, 107 The Alameda
  • Posada De San Juan, 310 Fourth Street
  • Vertigo, 81 Fourth Street
  • The VFW Hall, 58 Monterey Street

Each coop will have a combination of local food, art and craft vendors, and some will have live music, including Jillian Shaw at Bear’s Hideaway and Cumbia at Vertigo.

“There are going to be different themes for each coop,” said Monica Ramirez, co-owner of the 18th Barrel. “For example, I am giving up alcohol sales in my courtyard and giving the space over to children and families. Vertigo is doing a kind of farmer’s market. And La Posada is taking on antiques.”

Some restaurants, such as Jardines and Lolla, will be offering San Juan Day specials. Brewery Twenty Five will be releasing a new beer, and Vertigo will be hosting a wine tasting for Nat Wong’s Blade and Talon wines.

“We are excited about this,” said Fitzharris. “It is a new approach, and I think all things we are doing are going to make this year very different and extra special.”

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