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San Joaquin County's asparagus celebration could return in May 2021

Organizers of the annual San Joaquin Asparagus Festival are planning for the event to return in a modified capacity in May.

STOCKTON, Calif — The San Joaquin Asparagus Festival organizers, the Noceti Group, plans to bring back the asparagus celebration this May as the San Joaquin Asparagus Days.

The Noceti Group leader Tony Noceti is hopeful that they will bring together asparagus lovers from May 13 to 16 with social distancing and any other COVID-19 requirements put forward by San Joaquin County.

"It's the crown jewel of Stockton, California. It's been going on since '85," Noceti said. "This asparagus day is all about food, and we're gonna have a lot of food out there." 

The California Department of Public Health added fairs, like the San Joaquin Asparagus Days, to its reopening plan so that events like this could occur with modifications should the county be in the red, orange or yellow tier of the state's system. San Joaquin County reached the red tier on April 6.

However, San Joaquin County could still opt not to approve the event since counties can have more strict COVID-19 guidelines than the state. The county had not shared whether it would allow the Asparagus Days to occur as of publication. County spokesperson Daniel Kim did confirm the county had received the request for the event.

The state requires fairs to follow the same guidelines as amusement parks like Disneyland or Six Flags. Some of the guidelines include limiting capacity to 15%, selling tickets online, indoor dining, and having the staff get tested for COVID-19.

Noceti said they anticipated some of these guidelines. This is why the asparagus celebration is planned to be held at a different location than in years past.

"The location is moving from the fairgrounds to Stockton 99 Speedway; it's more open-air over there," Noceti said. "It's just the whole COVID situation. It's been a game-changer."

The group is also planning to have limited capacity at the event, temperature checks at the door, mandatory face masks when not eating, and tickets sold on Eventbrite.

This year's event will showcase classic asparagus dishes, including asparagus burritos, corn dogs, tri-tip, bacon-wrapped asparagus, deep-fried asparagus and asparagus ice cream. A few new items this year include asparagus lemonade, strawberry & asparagus smoothies and elote-style asparagus.

Ticket prices for the event range from $7.50 to $20.

WATCH ALSO: California plans to reopen completely on June 15