Wednesday, Jun 26 2013 11:30 AM

A summer fair with a retro feel

BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

Everyone will celebrate the nation's birth on July 4, but if you want to play up your patriotism this weekend, head over to The Empty Space. From apple pie and hot dogs to retro '40s beauty styling and Americana crafts, the theater aims to ring in the 4th with fundraising.

The fair marks a departure from The Empty Space's usual summer fundraiser: a fireworks booth. The theater's financial director, Kristina Saldana, said in an email that the board decided to change up its summer events to focus on more fundraising.

Related Info

Summer Fun Fair

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Empty Space, 706 Oak St.

Admission: Free; food/drinks $1-$5; kids games $1 each or $5 all-day games; VIP band for all games and food, $20

Information: 327-PLAY

"The first year (selling fireworks), it was new and exciting and we were the first and only in our theatre/arts community that had one, so we did very well, almost $4,000. ... The past two years, other groups in our community realized what a great opportunity it was and they got on board as well, so while we've have the privilege of working with them, we've also taken a slight cut in sales and manpower."

Saldana said board member Ellie Sivesind suggested a summer fair, modeled in part after the Santa's workshop craft fair held in December. Tying it into the Fourth of July allowed the theater to incorporate a USO/Americana theme proposed by junior board member Vicky Lusk.

To that effect, marketing director Michelle Guerrero will be offer pin-up hair and beauty styling for attendees. Once done up, guests can step back in time with an appearance by Captain America (played by actor Matthew Borton), who will play games with the kids, take pictures and give away prizes.

Capture the moment at the photo booth, which will offer five-minute sessions for $2, with photos uploaded to the theater's Facebook page or emailed to attendees.

Local crafting duo St. Olive will offer patriotic wares along with between 10 to 15 other vendors, including: artist (and theater gallery curator) Jesus Fidel, illustrator Sandahl von Sydow, Peace, Love and Cupcakes Bakery, Greater World Gifts Fair Trade Store, jewelry by Katie Villarreal and Mariah Bathe, planterias by Alison Martin and Sissy's Soy Candles.

Along with crafts and face-painting, children will be able to compete in water balloon races, bean bag toss and whipped cream pie-eating contest. Kids games are $1 each or $5 for an all-day wristband, with prizes for every player.

Adults can vie for victory in a hot dog-eating contest, entry for which is included in a $20 VIP wristband covering entertainment and refreshments.

If competitive eating is not your speed, eat at your leisure from an assortment of foods -- hot dogs, chips, sodas, snow cones, ice cream and mini apple and cherry pies, which Saldana will make to order.

Adults can also cool down with sangria, ales, ciders and wine spritzers.

Along with being a new summer event, the fair is a standout for the theater in that it doesn't directly tie into a current show ("Sweet Charity" runs through July 6).

"We've never really had a fair-type event that wasn't attached to one of our shows in some way. We've had V-DAY fairs and Christmas craft fairs and art show fairs that always have a good steady flow of people.

"The last great big fair we had was the Hair Fair many years ago that coincided with our production of 'Hair.' We had well over 100 people attend the fair and show that afternoon. That was before we had our recent air-conditioner upgrade, so I think it's safe to say we'll be much cooler this time around!"

Also raising funds this summer is current art exhibit "Too Many Logos," which features paintings by the board of directors each auctioned for $100 or more. After "Sweet Charity" closes, the Broadway revue "The Role I Was(n't) Born to Play," directed by Saldana, will play July 12 and 13 with $20 admission. The one-weekend-only show will feature Empty Space regulars singing Broadway songs originally intended for either the opposite sex or race.

"With these three fundraisers we're hoping to raise about as much as we did with the (fireworks) booth, but in a fun and different way so our patrons and members will be excited to continue donating to our cause."

Along with raising money, Saldana said family-friendly events like the fair help promote awareness of The Empty Space and the fun Bakersfield has to offer.

"People complain so much that there is nothing fun to do in Bakersfield, and while I understand we may not have theme parks or roller coasters, something is always happening at The Empty Space, whether it be plays, art receptions, fairs, karaoke and so many other things. So we hope that people want to come on down and have a little fun this Saturday! Play some games, buy some crafts, enjoy some good ol' American treats and beat the heat!"

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