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Fun blooming this weekend during Ripon’s almond fete

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Fun blooming this weekend during Ripon’s almond fete

The hammer is ready to go at the carnival taking place through Sunday at Mistlin Sports Park on River Road east of Jack Tone Road in Ripon.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED February 28, 2009 5:29 a.m.
RIPON – Finding something suitable to do this weekend won’t be difficult.

For the 47th time, the City of Ripon is pulling together to celebrate the blooming of the tree nut that at one time served as the lifeblood of the community and is permanently engrained in the fabric that makes Ripon unique.

But it’s much more than just a festival where you can buy farm fresh almonds and other nuts and hand-made arts and crafts from vendors from throughout Northern California.

After all, when Ripon does something – they have to do it right.

The annual Almond Blossom Parade – which starts at 11 a.m. today on Fourth Street - wraps around down Vera Avenue, and hits the homestretch through the packed sidewalks of Main Street – always attracts thousands of people for the festive pageantry that many claim promotes the small town feel that drew them there in the first place.

And even the youngest Riopnites get the chance to play a part in the community celebration.

The annual Diaper Derby will begin at 10 a.m. inside of the Abeyta-Horton gymnasium at Ripon High School, and more than a dozen infants will square off against each other for the title of Ripon’s fastest baby – eliciting just as many cheers as you’d find at a packed basketball game.

Those looking for good food and drink can once again hit the Ripon Quarterback Club’s brat fry at the American Legion Hall on today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s not uncommon to see the entire fenced in area behind the hall packed with people after the parade wraps up.

The Quarterback Club also sponsors the annual Almond Blossom Dance at the Ripon Community Center on tonight from 7 p.m. to midnight – a popular event that always packs in revelers celebrating the weekend of all things almond.

Perhaps the best part of the 2009 festival will be the relocation of the actual festival portion to the Mistlin Sports Park, where parking is ample and space is abundant.

While the Community Center provided a serene and quaint backdrop for such an event, it also became a nightmare for homeowners who had to deal with people flooding the streets – sometimes blocking driveways – and making it nearly impossible to go anywhere for fear of losing your spot.

And the neighbors along the east side of the Community Center had to deal with almost a week of impeded traffic flow once the carnival was set up to operate.

Needless to say, these things didn’t go over so well with some of the people who had to deal with the negative effects that went unnoticed by many of the festival-goers who simply came to enjoy themselves and left.

So now the massive 2.5 million gallon water tower will provide a unique backdrop to the most popular weekend of the year – which has drawn as many as 40,000 visitors over the three day period when the spring weather was cooperative.

The new venue will also give those who have never ventured out to what truly is Ripon’s recreational gem the chance to see what exactly they have in their town that they can take pride in – with the immaculately maintained baseball diamonds, the impressive entrance and exterior façade, and even the replica statue of Willie McCovey that was designed by the same sculptor who created the likeness to be placed next to the cove that bears his name outside of San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

Sounds like a win-win for everybody involved.

For those that have a little bit too much fun on Saturday, the VFW will be holding their annual pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday after the Ripon Grange offers their breakfast from 6 to 10 a.m. todayat their Ripona Ave. location.

So it would pretty hard to make it through this weekend and still say that there’s nothing to do.

40,000 people and almost 50 years of tradition can’t be wrong.
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