RIPON, Calif. — It's about that time in the Central Valley where the budding white flowers of the almond blossom meet carnival rides and parades.
The Ripon Almond Blossom Festival is on the horizon, and it intends on bringing back all the classic hits that have made it a mainstay celebration for more than half a century in the Central Valley.
“We’re a town of 15,000 people, but we expect between 30,000 and 40,000 people to come to our town during that time. So, we really want to showcase what is best about us and our small town nature,” said Kelly Donohue, CEO of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce.
What is the Almond Blossom Festival
The Almond Blossom Festival is a 58-year tradition in Ripon celebrating the small town's agricultural roots. According to Donohue, there's about 50,000 acres of almonds grown in Ripon and the surrounding areas.
“Ripon is really the heart of the agricultural community here in the Central Valley, so we’re celebrating not only the oncoming of spring but our most precious agricultural commodity,” Donohue said.
The blossom itself is a Central Valley hallmark since the Valley is one of a few places in the world where almonds can grow. Danielle Veenstra, of the Almond Board of California, said the Central Valley's almond blossom is the largest pollination event in the world.
Things to do in Ripon during the festival
The Almond Blossom Festival is made up of a number of events, combining everything you'd want in a big festival with small town charms. It includes a bake-off, spaghetti dinner, parade, diaper derby, bake sale, photo contests, tractor show and even a carnival with more than 20 rides.
“It’s one of those long-standing festivals, so, if you live in the Valley, you pretty much know what’s happening,” Donohue said.
Their diaper derby alone is celebrating its 50th year. Last year, it had 70 babies participating.
“I think it’s one of the activities that truly showcases the quaint nature of our town," Donohue said. "Even though we have 40,000 people coming in, we still have these fun small-town activities.”
While you will find no shortage of family-friendly activities, Donohue suggests making time for the parade. It's one of the big highlights of the festival.
For more events at the festival, click HERE.
When and where is the festival?
The festival kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 20 and ends Feb. 23. The hours and locations for the events will vary, but the carnival at Mistlin Sports Park will begin at 5 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. for the first day. Carnival hours will change as the festival progresses.
For more information on times and events, click HERE.
How much is it?
Outside of tickets for carnival rides, the only fee you'll find is for parking at Mistlin Sports Park. Parking will cost you $5.
Roadways will be closing down around 11:15 a.m. for the parade, which starts at East Main Street and Stockton Avenue and make its way to the Community Center of West Fourth Street.
West Main Street at Acacia Avenue and West Fourth Street at South Acacia Avenue will be open until the parade starts for north and southbound traffic. Second Street at Vera Avenue will be open for east and westbound traffic until the parade starts.
For live traffic conditions, view the Waze map below:
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