“All about Carpinteria”
The annual California Avocado Festival was in full swing Saturday, with thousands packing the streets of downtown Carpinteria to see over 80 bands, check out 100 vendors, and, of course, eat lots and lots of avocados.
Now in its 33rd year, the Avocado Festival has become a major event for avocado lovers across the country. It’s been a huge asset to Carpinteria, boosting its profile and bringing in tens of thousands to contribute to the local economy. With attractions like the best avocado contest and a ferris wheel, and treats like avocado beer, ice cream, and the best chips and guac around, it’s hard for Californians to stay away.
Despite the Festival’s growth and renown, you will still find the Carpinteria community behind the scenes pulling it all off. Wander the Festival and look for the food stalls with the longest lines, and you’ll find local schools, boy scout troops, and clubs slinging everything from avocado cream pie to muffins.
“It’s all about Carpinteria,” said Matt Drain from the Lions Club of Carpinteria, a chapter of the international service organization founded in 1917.
For thirty years, the Lions Club has set up their giant grills, tubs of guacamole and their simple menu, reading: Tri-Tip Sandwich $13; Water $1.00. All the items are locally sourced and the Lions Club pays for it all themselves. This year they will sell about 3,800 pounds of tri-tip, said Mr. Drain.
“The money that we raise here, after our costs, goes directly back into the community. We donate everything, there’s nothing left when we’re finished. It’s as worthy a thing you can do from a volunteer point of view as I’ve ever seen. It’s really terrific,” Mr. Drain told the News-Press.
The Lions Club’s main focus is the hearing and seeing impared children of Carpinteria. The proceeds from the Festival go towards eye exams and glasses for children who can’t afford them. Mr. Drain said Club President Robert Scholl and the rest of the team do an amazing job putting it all together.
“We do really well every year, and the reason we do really well is the organization. The guys are incredible. They volunteer their time and it’s really a fantastic set up,” said Mr. Drain.
Around the Festival you will find great local causes to give to in exchange for a tasty avocado treat.
“Our whole goal is to raise funds to support the athletics and other activities that students may not be fortunate enough to afford themselves,” said Lori Bowles, Vice President of the Carpinteria High School Booster Club.
She along with mothers of the Carp High varsity football team and Booster Club board members were at the Festival serving avocado shrimp cocktails for $7. A half of an avocado, a big scoop of shrimp, and then top it off with BBQ or a shrimp cocktail sauce and a lemon. The proceeds go towards Carpinteria High’s sports program.
“I always look forward to it. It’s a great weekend and I’m going to be sad when my son graduates,” said Lynn Dinning, a varsity football mother volunteering for the day.
The Booster Club has been making the cocktails for 10 years, and they are a huge hit at the Festival.
“They absolutely love it. You know, I think our biggest competitor is probably the avocado ice cream, but we’re holding our own today so we’re pretty excited about that,” said Mrs. Bowles.
Standing behind giant platters of avocado brownies, parents and students from the Howard School, Santa Barbara County’s oldest private school, raised money for tuition assistance and teacher salaries.
“We are always looking for opportunities to be a part of the community, so this is an extraordinary event to be able to do that,” said Kairna Villarreal, the Marketing Chair for Howard School’s board.
The school has sold out of brownies five years in a row, with help from the Food Liaison and Bliss Farms who donate the avocados and do the baking.
It’s one of their major fundraisers for the year, and everyone chips in from students to grandparents.
“We pride ourselves on being a family,” said Ms. Villarreal.
If you visit the Festival today, look past the avocados and the counters and you’ll find a community working together to make their homes a better place.
“It’s really a cool thing. I’ve been involved for a long time and hope to be involved for a much longer time,” said Mr. Drain.