Popularity of Avocado Festival continues to grow

Photo-1-Ken Seals photo

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.

7 Responses to "Popularity of Avocado Festival continues to grow"

  1. leavefidohome   April 24, 2017 at 5:02 am

    The Avofest is now a commercialized nightmare with nothing but out of town visitors and their freaking dogs all over the place taking craps everywhere. I don’t understand why people take their dogs to this event just to crap on every business and person walking by? Leave the animals at home folks!!! It is way too hot for them to be walking on asphalt!!! And all the baby strollers too!!!

    The choirs were good and Tony Suraci was the only decent band/music. The rude out of town visitors and their inability to allow normal people to walk on by made it the #1 Event I Will Stay Home next year. It was an absolute zoo. And I didn’t see any deep fried avocados anywhere or the Terayaki sticks they used to sell back in the day. Crowded and just a gigantic mess of boring booths for the most part.

    • Layne   May 3, 2017 at 10:02 am

      So I’ve got to get on my soapbox for one minute here. The holy guacamole stand serves a lot of guacamole. All their fruit is from Mexico.
      I find it ironic that Mexican avocados are being served in Fallbrook the capital of avocados in the United States. The sponsors in the city of Fallbrook should be ashamed of themselves. And they continue to promote fruit from Mexico.

      What ever happened to the byline grow local buy local???
      Support your local farmer?

      One pissed off grower.
      We enjoyed the festival but we’re very disappointed that Fallbrook chose to use Avocados from Mexico

  2. John   April 24, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    I don’t know any locals that go anymore. Use to be an event when there was a good chance you knew the folks manning a booth.

    They say no dogs. Why are they being allowed in?

    Another example of bigger is not always better.

  3. Lee   April 24, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    My dear fellow Fallbrookers, I believe the time has come to rename our festival the “Fallbrook Avocado & Wine Festival.”


    Folks, kid yourself not, Fallbrook now boasts an impressive list of wineries . . . AND that list is growing every year! Of course, there is the award-winning Fallbrook Winery, the Vineyard on East Mission, D’Iacobelli by Pala Mesa Golf Course on the east side, the former Fallbrook Country Club that’s turning into a winery, and somebody down on Camino del Rey in Bonsall recently planted a HUGE vineyard. And I’m sure I’m forgetting many others not to mention all the folks who are planting small vineyards on their own properties. Folks, Fallbrook is serious wine country! And every wine country RAISES and IMPROVES the quality of life . . . not to mention property values. I give you two words: Napa and Sonoma.

    Gomer: “I counted three words.”

    Folks, there is no reason to pretend or deny that our local wine industry is not only on the rise, but is impressive indeed to the point of acknowledging AND celebrating it: a festival. So why not merge the two — or add ‘wine’ to the name — and celebrate our wonderful wine industry? Why not?

    You think avocados attract 100,000? How many more folks do you think the inclusion of wine to the festival would attract? EASILY, double the size . . . and business. Add to it some great music — smooth jazz would be an obvious choice . . . instead of embarrassing Toni Suraci desperately trying to convince us that he is Willie, Waylon or Johnny (pathetic!) — GREAT food, and you add an ENTIRE new level of clientele not to mention sheer numbers of folks attending the festival! Think . . . more $$$.

    My dear fellow Fallbrookers, adding wine to our festival would GREATLY improve the festival in every which way, I STRONGLY believe. It’s no use to keep our heads in the sand and pretend to not realize that our local wine industry is on the rise (and that avocado groves are disappearing!) . . . and an impressive rise at that.

    Let us celebrate it and embrace it! Let’s rename the festival the “Fallbrook Avocado & Wine Festival.”

    Thank you.

  4. Julie   April 25, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I am a seasoned local. My family and I look forward to this event every year. We love the hard work and dedication this town puts into this. This year was even more amazing than usual. Thank you for your amazing efforts!!

  5. Helene   April 25, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Yes the Avocado Festival is crowded with “out of towners” but it’s a once a year event and I enjoy seeing our community provide this huge event for others to have to finally come to our town. I’ve lived here 30 years and it’s nice for a change to not have to leave my home town to do something different and fun. It’s nice to see our community come together to show their products and places of business.
    I do wish parking was some how just a little bit better, but other than that, for a one day event, I love it!

  6. Linda Nash   August 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I think Lee makes a great point!

    Also, I think this would be great to participate in, I make one of a kind jewelry. No doubt there is already several jewelry vendors, as there always is, but jewelry can be quite varied. Anyway, I went to the San Clemente Salsa Festival as a vendor one year and the small amount of craft vendors were on a little side street of the middle and only maybe 20 of us. The festival was a great success, but not so much for the crafters. I see on the map a Vendor Allley. Are the vendors put down this area only or are they along the main street as well. Are the crafters hard to find is what I want to know. Thank you


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