Tens of thousands swarmed Carpinteria this weekend for California’s 36th Annual Avocado Festival, California’s largest free music festival, which returned in person for the first time since 2019. While a virtual version of the festival was hosted in 2020, this is the first in-person festival since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have great crowds coming out and everyone is happy to be back with the live festival again. Yesterday was a soft launch with local bands. The weather is perfect for the festival,” Kim Guiterrez told the News-Press.
The festival was created in 1986 by community leaders Rob Godfrey, Connie Korbel, Debbie Murphy, Fran Puccinelli, Bob Ealee and John Franklin. The festival was the result of a brainstorming meeting to create an ongoing weekend event that would benefit the fundraising efforts of the local non-profit groups.
“Debbie Murphy wanted to have a celebration and celebrate one of the biggest crops we have here,” said Ms. Guiterrez.
The News-Press asked Ms. Guiterrez how it felt to be back in person: “It feels great to see everyone out on the streets again. You see people who have moved away come back for the festival. Last night was like a big block party. Everyone came out. It’s like a big reunion,” Ms. Guiterrez told the News-Press on Saturday..
Saturday’s “Strong Contest,” in which contestants hold up a ten pound bag of avocados with their arm held straight out for as long as they can. The male winner was at two minutes and ten seconds and the female winner was at one minute at fifty-two seconds. The contest was hosted by John Palminteri.
Today’s guacamole contest will be judged by celebrity judges who will choose a winner. The guacamole contest is being hosted by Rebecca Brand and Arthur Von Wiesenberger. The contest’s celebrity judges are Carpinteria City Councilwoman Natalia Alarcon, Fred Brander of the Brander Vineyard, Mac Brown of the Wiggy Ranch, 2020 Carpinterian of the Year Beth Cox, Carpinteria City Manager David Durflinger, Little Dom’s owner Warner Ebbink, 2021 Carpinterian of the Year Clyde Freeman, Corktree Cellars owner André Jackson, KEYT reporter Tracy Lehr, KJEE General Manager Steve Meade, The Food Liaison executive chef and owner Nirasha Rodriguez and Battalion Chief Noah Tunney of the Carpinteria/Summerland Fire Department.
“It is such a festive atmosphere everyone is happy to be back outside and together celebrating the avocado. In our food court we have guacamole, taquitos, guacamole brownies, avocado egg rolls, tri-tip sandwiches and all things avocado,” said Ms. Guiterrez.
There are three main stages featuring about 60 different acts over the weekend. For a full line-up of entertainment go to https://avofest.com/entertainment.