AUBURN, Calif. — In Auburn, there’s probably no mandarin orange combination that hasn’t been tried thanks to the Mountain Mandarin Festival. It’s probably one of the only places you’ll find mandarins on pizza and in BBQ sauces, milkshakes and chili.

Whether you’re looking for a burst of tangy, sweet citrus or some live music and early holiday shopping, the Mandarin Festival has no shortage of options for their roughly 30,000 guests this weekend.

“You can easily spend a day there,” said Karen Spencer, spokesperson for the Mandarin Festival.

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What is the Mandarin Festival?

The Mandarin Festival is a 26-year tradition in Auburn that highlights the new harvest of fresh mandarins in the Placer County foothills.

According to Spencer, some of the mandarin orchards in Placer County date back to World War II. Some have at least two or three generations behind them.

The festival itself comes around every November spanning a full weekend crammed with music, food, events, and mandarin-inspired festivities.

What’s at the Mandarin Festival?

Farmers from around Placer County will be selling thousands of pounds of mandarins. You’ll find mandarins on pizza and in chili, pulled pork, milkshakes, olive oils, and dressings. Walking into the festival, you'll find lines of farmers and plenty of free samples.

“You can taste test just like when you’re doing wine-tasting,” said Spencer. “You can go to all the different orchards and taste all the different mandarins, and they do have different tastes.”

111819 mandarin festival
Vendors at the Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn.
Mountain Mandarin Festival

Those different tastes can stem from the age of the trees and the area they’re grown in, just like how grapes can differ from one vineyard to another, according to Spencer.

“The thing that makes the Placer County mandarins so different… we have the cool nights and then the warm days, so it gives them very intense and very sweet flavor,” said Spencer.

If you get your fill of the sweet and tangy fruit, you can spend the rest of your time doing some holiday shopping.

There’ll be about 200 vendors selling everything from scented lotions and soaps to home accessories and holiday gifts. While at the festival, keep your eyes peeled for the chef demos, crafts, the peel-and-eat contest, and even a funnel cake eating contest for the kids.

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How much is it?

The festival will kick off with a special deal on Friday. Anyone 11 and over will be able to enter for $6.

On Saturday and Sunday, that price goes to $10 for General Admission, $6 for seniors, and kids 10 and under get in for free.

However, parking at the Gold Country Fairgrounds will cost you an extra $6. Street parking is also available.

Where is it?

The festival is located at Gold Country Fairgrounds on 1273 High Street in Auburn.

It is set to run at the following times:

  • Friday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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