Posted by: acooksca | 11/17/2014

Kelseyville…It’s All About Pears

Giant Pear draws celebrants down Main Street

Giant Pear draws celebrants down Main Street

“It’s a nice ride to Kelseyville from here. And they are having the Pear Festival today!” We are in Lake County to bike along rural lanes of fields and orchards near Clear Lake. It is a quiet, late September Saturday and we don’t anticipate being overwhelmed by a local fruit festival. But hey, I like pears, so why not head that way? The road passes weathered rustic barns and sunny hillside wineries on the slopes of Mount Konocti. Cresting a small hill we look down at the classic small-town Main Street of Kelseyville…absolutely packed with people at the Pear Festival.

Menus are all about pears

Menus are all about pears

Antique tractors with huffing engines line the street. Craft tables offer farmhouse-style linens embroidered with pears. Food trucks incorporate pears into nearly every menu item. We line up for a Fuzzy Pear Smoothie. Our purchase of Pear Belle Helene, with perfectly poached fruit, ice cream and chocolate drizzle supports a local high school sports group. The day started, we are told, with a pancake breakfast at the firehouse, quilt show, wagon rides for kids and has evolved into outdoor beer/wine arenas with live bands. Down Main Street crowds mill around a huge pear sculpture.

Pear Belle Helene

Pear Belle Helene

Kelseyville wasn’t always so Mayberry pleasant. The town is named after a notorious miscreant of early California, Andrew Kelsey. Kelsey and a partner enslaved a band of local Pomo to build a house on Main Street and work their cattle ranch and gold claim in the Sierra. The pair were killed in1849 in a Pomo uprising and are buried under California Historical Marker number 426 at the site of the house. This episode triggered a regiment of U.S. Calvary to murder hundreds of Pomo along Clear Lake in what is known as the Bloody Island Massacre (Historical Marker number 427).

But today, Kelseyville is all about pears and we participate in tasting and rating varieties grown in experimental plots around the area.

In the Pear tasting tent

In the pear tasting tent

Italian varietals with operatic names…Carmen, Norma, Tosca… are crisp, juicy and tart. A favorite seems to be a variety from Ontario, Canada called Harrow Gold. It is medium soft and has a perfect sweet-tart balance.

We pause at the Seely Farm Stand tables. The Seelys moved their Bartlett Pear operation from Santa Clara to Lake County in 1953. Today, the farm is operated by fourth generation Seelys and grows a wide variety of crops to offer visitors at their farm stand. When we collect our bikes for the ride out of Kelseyville we have a couple of pounds of pears in our backpack. Just couldn’t leave the Pear Festival without them.

Seely Farm Stand, open daily June to Mid-November:!

Historical Marker Database has information across the country. For California see:





  1. Karen… you write so well I’m not sure if my addiction to your articles is an interest in food or your writing. so thank you I so enjoy

    • That’s very sweet, Joan. Thanks.

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