After a two-year absence, the full-fledged, in-person California Avocado Festival is back in Carpinteria
The 36th annual California Avocado Festival kicks off this weekend in Carpinteria for two days of celebrating the green fruit responsible for all that delicious guacamole.
After a two-year absence due to COVID, the in-person avocado festival returns Saturday and Sunday to Linden Avenue in the heart of downtown Carpinteria with plenty of entertainment and avocado-based creations for everyone to enjoy. (The festival was strictly a virtual celebration in 2020 and 2021.)
Festival organizers are billing it as “our 36th year of peace, love and guacamole!” as well as one of the largest free music festivals in California, with more than 75 acts on three stages.
While the festival is officially billed as taking place on Oct. 1 and 2, musicians will perform three days — beginning at 1 p.m. today and 10 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Festival organizers are urging attendees to come celebrate the importance of the avocado to the Carpinteria Valley by visiting the Expo Tent. The tent is home to avocado agricultural photos, historical photos, lessons in avocado grafting, FFA-restored antique tractors and the Largest Avocado Contest.
“Our food venue will have plenty of avocado dishes so come hungry and enjoy some avocado creations!” organizers said. The 33rd annual California Avocado Festival, the last one held in-person before the pandemic, “was so successful that it surpassed many of our previous accomplishments!” organizers said on their website (avofest.com). “In prior years, we have had over 75,000 visitors over the course of the three-day weekend. This year, it was over 80,000!!!” And the 2019 festival’s participating nonprofits and service organizations were able to generate more than $100,000 worth of funds that went back to the community through their initiatives. The festival’s Merchandise Committee is working hard on bringing new items to the 2022 California Avocado Festival, and organizers are urging festival-goers to stop by the newly named Annette Fisher Retail Booth to get their 2022 Avofest gear. The winner of the 36th Annual California Avocado Festival’s design contest was Carpinteria local Ashley DeVan. Ms. DeVan has been attending Avofest for almost 20 years and has entered the design contest three times previously with other designs. She said she drew her inspiration from this year’s “Back to the Roots” theme and the event’s musical stages.
“All the good things she loves about the festival are represented,” organizers said. The official unveiling took place on Sept.15 during the Farmers Market. Also on tap this year is the contest for best Avofest Guacamole. News-Press Co-Publisher Arthur Von Wiesenberger and Rebecca Brand are co-hosts, and there are a dozen judges.
The idea of the California Avocado Festival began in 1986 at a meeting that included community leaders Rob Godfrey, Connie Korbel, Debbie Murphy, Fran Puccinelli, Bob Ealee and John Franklin. They were brainstorming to create a weekend event to raise money for local nonprofits — and promote Carpinteria as a weekend getaway at the same time.
The answer came as something the committee members could easily hold in their hands.
The California avocado.
It made sense. After all, Santa Barbara County is the third largest avocado producer in North America, and the avocado is an American plant with a long, distinguished history.
Today, the most popular variety is the Hass. The mother tree of all Hass avocados was born in a backyard in La Habra Heights.
The avocado (Persea americana) originated in south-central Mexico, sometime between 7,000 and 5,000 B.C. But it was several millennia before this wild variety was cultivated. Archaeologists in Peru have found domesticated avocado seeds buried with Incan mummies dating back to 750 B.C., and there is evidence that avocados were cultivated in Mexico as early as 500 B.C.
Spanish conquistadores loved the fruit but couldn’t pronounce the Aztec word for it and changed it to the more manageable “aguacate,” which eventually became avocado in English. The first English-language mention of avocado was by Sir Henry Sloane in 1696.
Fast forward to 1871. Judge R.B. Ord of Santa Barbara successfully introduced avocados to the U.S. with trees from Mexico. By the early 1900s, growers were seeing the avocado’s commercial potential, and ever since, growers, enthusiasts and researchers have been hunting for improved varieties.
By the 1950s around 25 different varieties of avocados were being commercially packed and shipped in California, with “Fuerte” accounting for more than two-thirds of the production. Even though Hass was discovered in the early 1930s and patented by Rudolph Hass in 1935, it was not until large-scale industry expansion occurred in the late 1970s that Hass replaced Fuerte as the leading California variety.
Today, California is the leading producer of domestic avocados and home to about 90% of the nation’s crop. Most California avocados are harvested on 60,000 acres between San Luis Obispo and the Mexican border, by about 6,800 growers. email: firstname.lastname@example.org