Why should one attend the 2017 Avocado Festival in historic downtown Fallbrook this Sunday, April 23? Where else can a person see over 100 varieties of avocados, take home an avocado tree, bite into avocado macaroons, help your heart with beer-battered avocados, dive into a bowl of avocado ice cream or lick an avocado popsicle, buy a pair of avocado wood sunglasses, and enjoy loads of free entertainment while sipping a cold beer, a glass of wine, or a killer margarita?
The aforementioned opportunities are just some of the reasons more than 100,000 people visited the Friendly Village of Fallbrook for the 2016 Avocado Festival. A similar crowed is expected for year’s event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Avocado Festival’s reputation and popularity continues to grow each year. How much so? The travel website www.beenheredonethat.com listed the Avocado Festival in it’s “Top Ten San Diego Events Not to Be Missed in 2017.”
“To be listed along with Comic-Com as a destination event that you need to go to, that’s pretty cool,” said Lila MacDonald, CEO of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, the organization that hosts the festival. “I mean Comic-Com – while not my thing for sure – is huge.”
The Avocado Festival is the largest event held in unincorporated San Diego County and promotes Fallbrook while providing a economic benefit of approximately $1 million in sales.
“That’s why we do this,” said MacDonald. “It’s a very large event, it takes a year to plan and there’s a lot of work that goes into it, but at the end of the day, if a business can make three weeks of business in one day, then we are helping to boost the economy.
“And it exposes Fallbrook,” continued MacDonald. “Tourists come in and check out the town and say, ‘this is super cute, it’s still small town, we want to come back.’ It promotes returning business.”
It would be hard to find someone who gets more excited about the festival than 76-year-old Ralph Foster, whose father bought an avocado grove in Fallbrook when Foster was 5. Foster grew up with the fruit and has been involved with every aspect of it, from growing to picking to packing to selling.
Foster, who now sells groves as a realtor with Sunshine Properties Real Estate, still farms 25 acres of avocados and loves talking about them. That’s why Foster will be manning the Sunshine Properties booth all day at “Avocado Central” (corner of Main Avenue and Alvarado Street), educating visitors and selling avocados.
“To me it’s a neat event because I get the pleasure of sharing all the years of knowledge that I have gained by having been around avocados all my life,” said Foster.
Foster said the Sunshine Properties booth will feature “more than 100 different varieties of avocados,” including some that approach “the size of a volleyball.”
“We’ll have 20 to 30 varieties from Fallbrook and the rest of them are experimental or out-of-the-country varieties that have been grown at the state experimental field at UC Irvine,” said Foster. “I’ll have from my ranch an avocado called ‘Daily 11.’ It’s a pear shaped avocado that’s three to four pounds.”
People visiting the Sunshine Properties booth can buy a bag of avocados for only $5. And, if they’re so inclined or had too many margaritas, they can purchase a “major” avocado tree.
“The bags hold 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of avocados,” said Foster. “There will be three or four varieties in each bag. We’re going to bag up between 1,000 and 1,200 bags. Last year we had nearly 1,000 bags and we were out of fruit by 3 o’clock.”
And the avocado trees?
“We’ll have five major trees that will be sold by the end of the event,” said Foster. “And they’ll be trees as tall as the booth itself in big 25 gallon pots. And then we’ll have 15 or 20 smaller trees in 10 gallon pots.”
Foster invites everyone to come up and discuss avocados with him
“It gives me great pleasure, as a person, to share a passion that I’ve got,” said Foster. “It’s a lot of fun.”
“A lot of fun” is what the Avocado Festival is all about. There will be live musical entertainment on the main stage (located at Main Avenue and College Street) and family-oriented performances on the community stage (Main Avenue and Elder Street)
“We are going to have a Wine Garden in the Village Square (Main Avenue and Alvarado Street) and an enhanced Beer and Margarita Garden by the main stage,” said MacDonald. “Cazadores Tequila is our main stage sponsor and they have four different specialty margaritas that they make for us for the festival. Prohibition Brewing Company will also be there.”
MacDonald said master mixologist Manny Hinojosa will be serving up the following margaritas: Chipotle Pineapple Margarita, Cazadores Margarita, Cazadores Picante Margarita and the Tequila Cazadores Paloma. MacDonald added that street tacos will be offered in the Beer and Margarita Garden.
The musical entertainment lineup for the main stage is as follows: Anthony “Fallbrook Kid” Cullins, 10 a.m. to noon; Tony Suraci Trio, noon to 3 p.m. with Nina Francis featured from 1:15 to 2 p.m.; and Joe Gillaspie, 3 to 5 p.m.
Performing on the community stage will be: the TCA-Vista Jr. High Spirit Flag Team at 9:30 a.m., Charlene’s Dance ‘N Cheer at 1 p.m., The Starlighters Youth Show Choir at 1:55 p.m., and the Evan Diamond Band at 3:45 p.m.
The community stage will also host the following events: Guacamole Contest (judging begins at 10:30 a.m., winners announced at 11:25 a.m.), Little Miss and Mister Avocado Contest (10:35 a.m. to 11 a.m., winners announced at 11:10 a.m.), Best Dressed Avocado Contest (judging at 11 a.m., winners announced at 11:15 a.m.), and the Avocado 500 race (racing begins at 11:40 a.m., winners announced 12:35 p.m.).
The list of avocado food options that will available includes: guacamole from festival mainstay Holy Guaca-Moly, spicy Baja California pesto on avocado from Basiltops, “gringo” guacamole from Double Dippin’, avocado spicy salsa from Raul’s Concessions, fried and stuffed avocados from Sunset Catering, guacamole from Rosales Mexican Food, guacamole dogs from Sunshine Hot Dogs, local guacamole and salsa from Solis Brand, avocado popsicles from Daniel’s Artisanal Foods, avocado tacos and burritos from Las Carretas Taco Shop, avocado macaroons from Big Joy Family Bakery, beer-battered avocados from Say Cheese, guacamole hotdogs from Doggosgus, avocado ice cream from Mariposa Ice Cream and Baskin-Robbins, avocado oil from The California Olive and Pacific Fruit Oil, avocado smoothies from JK Dots, and avocado honey from Supremo Produce.
Avocado-related products that will be offered include avocado oil soaps and body balms, avocado tees, bags and necklaces, avocado motif towels and aprons from Fallbrook Quilt Guild, metal avocado signs and bookends, avocado oil bath bombs, and avocado moisturizer.
Art has always been a part of Fallbrook and the entries and winners of the “Art of the Avocado” contest will be on display for all to see at Brandon Gallery (105 N. Main). This year a “Junior Art of the Avocado” contest was held for children in kindergarten through eighth grade, and those entries and winners can be viewed at the Chamber of Commerce.
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 Lane), Northgate Market (1346 S. Mission Road), William H. Frazier Elementary School (on Gum Tree Lane), and Fallbrook Street at Heald Lane. (See shuttle map on chamber website).
Please note: dogs are not allowed at the festival. For more information about the Avocado Festival, call the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce at (760) 728-5845 or visit www.fallbrookchamberofcommerce.org.