Californian Food Festivals

by Amie Taylor Google

With its rich, fertile soil, year-round sunshine and periodic rain, California provides a climate that's perfect for growing a variety of crops. The long miles of coastline give boats ample space to dock and unload tons of fresh seafood of all sorts. With these natural conditions in place, it's no wonder that California is host to several types of food festivals during the year.

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Fruit and Vegetable Festivals

The annual Paso Robles Olive Festival celebrates one of California's native crops. This one-day event typically held on a Saturday in August features olive and olive-oil tastings, a cooking competition, free recipes, and beer and wine tastings. Several craft activities and games are available to interest the little ones as well. A social mixer, held the night before, acts as a classy kickoff to this event. The three-day Asparagus Festival in Stockton was voted one of the seven best events in the state by the California Department of Tourism. This April festival features eating and recipe contests, live music, the "Spear-It Run," amusement rides for kids and charter yacht tours of the San Joaquin Delta.

Nut and Legume Festivals

The Capay Valley Almond Festival has been going strong since 1915. Held in March of each year, the festival events cover five local towns. An Almond Queen Dinner and Pageant kick off the events the weekend before the festival, a fun run takes place the day before and the Fastest Little Nut Diaper Derby gives babies under 1 year of age the chance to participate on the day of the festival. If you love dried beans, visit Tracy, California in September to enjoy two days of festivities with free admission. Listen to live music, stroll through the car show, purchase goods from food and merchandise vendors and root for your choice for Bean Queen and Princess.

Seafood Festivals

When seafood is your thing, visiting the Lobster Festival in the port of Los Angeles is a must. Held for three days in September, the Lobster Festival is the winner of the Guinness World Record for the most seafood served at an outdoor event. Walk through the arts-and-crafts sale and purchase a variety of handmade items, feast on fresh lobster, visit the pirate camp and enjoy live music. Crawfish lovers should visit that festival held in Long Beach each year in July. Live music, dancing, kids' activities and tons of fresh crawfish prepared in a variety of ways allow you to experience a taste of Louisiana in California.

Wine and Beer Festivals

Beer lovers will be in heaven as they sample their choices from over 100 different beers at the California Beer Festival in Ventura. Held over a weekend in September, patrons can experience the music of six live bands and food from a variety of area vendors. A barbecue competition takes place on Sunday and guests are welcome to taste a variety of flavors from the competitors. If you prefer wine rather than beer, mark your calendar for the California Wine Festival that takes place each year in Santa Barbara in July where a variety of vintners peddle their wares. An admission ticket entitles you to taste as many varieties as you choose and enjoy unlimited hors d'oeuvres. This is an event for the over-21 crowd and is pet free as well.

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