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Avocado Festival – celebrating three decades of fun

Thirty years and it just keeps getting better. When Fallbrook opens its arms to close to 100,000 visitors on Sunday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for the town's annual Avocado Festival, it will mark three decades of fun celebrating Fallbrook's signature fruit.

"A 30-year anniversary is symbolized by a pearl," said Lila MacDonald, CEO of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, the organization that hosts the festival. "I feel the pearl is a perfect comparison as it captures the essence of the festival’s longevity in the community. Like a pearl, the festival has grown year by year, layer upon layer, with the collaboration of the community and all those that work hard to bring it to fruition so that all can enjoy our 'gem' of a village!"

"I believe that people love avocados and that they have gained a lot of popularity over the years," continued MacDonald. "We here in Fallbrook are proud of our agriculture heritage and still boast to be the Avocado Capital."

To assure those who will attend the festival with an eye towards consuming avocado, MacDonald added, "There will be plenty of fresh guacamole as Holy Guacamoly will have three booths in the festival again. They are our 'official' guacamole."

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the festival, a celebrity mixologist and an internationally recognized chef will travel to the event to help take it to the next level.

"We are beyond excited that this year is the 30th anniversary and what better way than to add to the festival?" said MacDonald.

New corporate sponsor Cazadores Tequila will make it possible for an enhanced Beer and Margarita Garden at Main Ave. and E. College St. (Scrappy's Tire) this year, along with multiple live bands on the festival's main stage at the site. Beer will be provided by Prohibition Brewing Company from Vista.

"It is for adults 21 and over," MacDonald said. "There will be beer, margaritas, and food for sale along with the live music entertainment."

Master mixologist and international personality Manny Hinajosa will be flying in from Mexico City to prepare three signature cocktails he has specially designed for the 30th Avocado Festival.

"Manny has designed a Traditional Margarita, made with fresh juices (no mix); a Hibiscus Paloma; and a Picante Margarita, made with jalapeño!" explained MacDonald.

"This is a real delight for us to have Manny visit," explained Sommer Walker, a Fallbrook resident who owns Bull Dog Farms and serves as a national accounts representative for Bacardi USA. "Manny is a James Beard House Foundation mixologist and is flying in just to mix these cocktails for the Avocado Festival. He works with the most famous chefs in the world and does the signature cocktails for Food Network stars. He is also probably the foremost expert on tequila in the U.S."

"He will be helping make the 30th anniversary of the festival really special," Walker said. "We have the best in the business flying in to make people margaritas."

Walker said another highly respected individual in the food industry, Juan San Juan III, who owns an L.A. eatery, will be traveling down to be a judge in the festival's guacamole contest.

"His establishment is a food network industry hangout," said Walker.

A custom-made bar, courtesy of Beverage Props, will be an integral part of the operation and worth seeing, Walker said.

"It is stunningly beautiful and big," said MacDonald. Owned and operated by local resident Wayne "Fish" Fisher, Beverage Props is a custom fabrication business that creates bars and other special pieces for large restaurants and liquor companies. Interestingly enough, Fisher honed his artistic skills here in Fallbrook at the California Sculpture Academy.

Keeping the main stage (Main/E. College) lively this year will be the sounds of six different bands.

"I wanted to highlight more local talent this year and increase the number of bands for the enjoyment of the crowd," said MacDonald. "I feel like Fallbrook has a lot of talent."

Musician John Lane, MacDonald said, helped organize the local musicians and the music line-up will include:

  • Larry Thompson (10 a.m. to 10:50 a.m.)
  • Nathan & Jessie (11 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.)
  • Anthony Cullins (Noon to 12:50 p.m.)
  • Daring Greatly (1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.)
  • Grass (2 p.m. to 3:40 p.m.)
  • In Autumn (3:50 p.m. to 5 p.m.)

Family-friendly entertainment will be located at the Community Stage, located at the corner of Main Ave. and Elder St. (127 West Social House property).

"At that location, we will feature performances from youth groups and other family entertainment," said MacDonald.

Members of the Fallbrook Shafters Car Club will bring some of their classic beauties to display at the festival (Main Ave. and Elder St.), and the Fallbrook Vintage Car Club will have a mini car show as well (Main Ave. and Fig St.) at the event.

The popular Artisan Walk will again be set up on Alvarado Street, showcasing local artists and their works.

Those looking for a new taste treat at this year's festival might like to try an Avocado Puffle Cone (Avocado ice cream inside a sweet, puffy cone, based on the Hong Kong egg waffle). It will be provided by Main Squeeze at a booth near Main Ave and Fig St. and it's perfect for a festival photo moment! (see photo with this article).

The Fallbrook Gem & Mineral Society will have its museum open for those interested in learning more about the treasures found in the area.


Art of the Avocado contest

This marks the 11th year of the Art of the Avocado, with the entries (and winners) on display at Brandon Gallery, 105 N. Main Ave. during the festival. This event is sponsored by Fallbrook Propane Gas Company and continues to grow in popularity.

"The Art of the Avocado contest has really grown a lot," reported MacDonald.

Guacamole contest

Both amateur cooks and professionals have an opportunity for bragging rights by entering the annual Guacamole Contest, which can be found at the Community Stage area (Main/Elder).

There is no fee to enter those special concoctions but advance registration through the chamber of commerce is required. No entries will be accepted on the day of the festival. Guacamole entries require one pint of the recipe (chips will be provided).

Judging will take place at 12:30 p.m., with the winner to be announced at 1:45 p.m. Prizes will include first and second place in each category for best taste and best presentation.

Little Miss and Little Mister contest

Boys and girls from ages 6 to 10 can enter the competition for Little Miss and Little Mister Avocado. There is a $5 per individual entry fee. Registration will be open from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at the Community Stage (Main/Elder), with judging at 11 a.m. Prizes will be awarded.

Best Decorated Avocado

Imaginations can run wild in the Best Decorated Avocado contest at the festival. Open to elementary school-age children, decorations can carry a theme, funny look, dressy outfit, and more!

Kids wanting to enter their creation using an avocado should bring it to the Community Stage area at 10:30 a.m. that day for judging at 11 a.m. There is no fee to enter.

Avocado 500 race

Racing with local fruit! A fun competition for elementary school-age children, there are two different race options for this event.

Stock cars: Kids can come to the Community Stage area where avocados and wheels will be provided for them to construct their own "race car."

Modified cars: Kids can bring their own avocado race car already constructed as long as the wheelbase does not exceed eight inches for racing purposes.

Prizes will be awarded for winners of both competitions. No fee for either category.

Kids wanting to participate should check in at 11 a.m. because racing begins at 11:30.

Avocado education

An opportunity to learn all about avocados will again be offered by Sunshine Realty at the festival, where knowledgeable folks can explain the many varieties of the fruit and will offer trees for sale.

Other festival notes

No pets are allowed in the festival area due to the heavy crowds and food service.

Since parking in the downtown area gets a little impacted, the Chamber of Commerce is again providing shuttles from large parking areas to the downtown festival area. Parking shuttle locations include Fallbrook High School (on Stage Coach Ln.), Northgate Market (1346 S. Mission Rd.), William H. Frazier Elementary School (on Gum Tree Lane), and Fallbrook St. at Heald Lane. (See shuttle map on chamber website).

It is expected that the 30th annual Avocado Festival will benefit the community of Fallbrook as it has done years prior.

"The festival benefits the community of Fallbrook in many more ways than people realize," MacDonald explained. "It celebrates our agricultural heritage while providing an opportunity for entertainment and camaraderie. It brings large numbers of visitors to our town who will one day return to shop, sightsee and spend some time here. It also provides significant economic benefits to our local businesses and non-profit community groups, and it generates enormous exposure of our community, both locally and regionally."

The economic benefit of the festival is approximately one million dollars in sales.

"It is a fun-filled way to celebrate our heritage and be entertained at the same time!" said MacDonald.

Questions regarding this year's Avocado Festival can be directed to the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce at (760) 728-5845 or visit Contest entry forms can be downloaded from the website.

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