Posted by: acooksca | 06/13/2012

Small Town Summer Food Festivals

Galt strawberry festival

Galt strawberry festival

What I know of Galt is very little except that something horrible, a multiple torture-murder of daughters by their mother, happened there in the 1980’s. It seems a little inconsistent with the happy Galt Strawberry Festival (and family day), but it is a lovely Sunday in spring and we are looking for something to do.

Galt is an unassuming agricultural town (Pop. 22, 300) between Stockton and Lodi, and other than its criminal past, it is very quiet. For two days in late May the town turns out to enjoy a carnival of rides, petting zoo, show of red cars both new and classic, meet the local bank manager, and greet the two-dog K9 unit of the Galt police force. Raley’s Market donates food to benefit charities. The Johnsonville Sausage Company sends a monstrous semi truck pulling “the world’s largest grill” and grills bratwursts to benefit the Strong as Steel Cancer Foundation.

There are flashier California industries – bio-tech, entertainment, computer and high-tech – that get a lot of attention. Yet California is the country’s powerhouse of farm products. The great Central Valley teems with towns known for and celebrating what defines their fields and livelihoods. California is the country’s number one producer of artichokes, lettuce, tomatoes, walnuts, almonds, figs, asparagus, olives, prunes, wild rice, wine, table grapes, dairy and of course, strawberries. The heart of the state remains rural and we are all invited to drop by for summer festivals.

Lining up for deep fried strawberries

Lining up for deep fried strawberries

Mixed in with the bar-b-qued turkey legs and tie-died T-shirt booths at Galt’s festival we find strawberry funnel cakes, shortcakes, strawberry topped crepes, berry smoothies, dipped strawberries, strawberry hot sauce, strawberry barbeque sauce, jams, flats of fresh berries and, what appears to be drawing a large and curious crowd… batter coated fried strawberries. We opt for a refreshing strawberry smoothie (blended berries, ice, water…no added sweetener needed) and a tower of strawberry shortcake (crushed berries and whipped cream topping a thick, fluffy-textured vanilla cake).

Earlier in the spring you can celebrate artichokes in Castroville, asparagus in Stockton, apricots in Patterson, cherries in Beaumont, dates in Riverside and potatoes in Perris. For a dose of local charm check this website for food events still to come in 2012 that welcome all: http://www.foodreference.com/html/california-food-festivals.html .

Still to come in 2012:

June 15-16, 2012 http://www.grapefestival.com/ – grapes, Lodi
June 26, 2012  71st Happy Valley Strawberry Festival – strawberries, Anderson
July 20-22, 2012  45th Annual Citrus Festival– citrus, Santa Paula
July 20-21, 2012  Marysville Peach Fest – peaches, Marysville
July 27-29, 2012 http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com/ – garlic, Gilroy
August 4-5, 2012  18th Annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival at Monterey Bay
strawberries, Watsonville
August 11-12, 2012  http://www.gravensteinapplefair.com/  –  Gravenstein apple fair, Sebastopol
August 11, 2012  http://www.woodlandtomatofestival.com/ – tomatoes, Woodland
August 18, 2012  http://www.pasoroblesolivefestival.com/ – olive festival, Paso Robles
September 29, 2012 – http://www.pearfestival.com/ – pears, Kelseyville
October 20-21, 2012 – http://www.springville.ca.us/applefest/ – apples, Springville

Stats on California economic products: http://www.netstate.com/economy/ca_economy.htm

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