• WHAT: 51st annual Almond Blossom
• WHEN: Feb. 22-24 at Mistlin Sports Park
• MORE INFO: Go to www.ripon.org or drop by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street.
• TO GET THERE: Take Highway 99 to the Jack Tone Road exit and head east to River Road and turn right.
The sun is starting to chase away winter’s chill.
In the coming days, almond blossoms will burst turning the countryside around Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, Turlock, and Modesto into a brilliant easel of white and pink accented by lush green grass.
Breathe deeply. The sweet scent of almond blossoms is intoxicating.
It is even more so at night as temperatures cool down and nature’s sweet elixir is carried on gentle breezes. It is a treat to sleep with windows cracked and snuggled under a comforter as you inhale nature’s most sensuous perfume as you drift off to sweet dreams.
Enjoy it while you can. In a few weeks the visual show of white and pink speckled tree branches will be followed by what appears like a dainty snowfall blanketing the grounds of tens of thousands of acres of orchards.
And the great thing about it all is the almond blossoms are just the start of nature’s show. Throughout the rest of late winter, spring, summer and into fall the Northern San Joaquin valley offers an abundance of sweet smells produced by nature as well as visual delights.
It’s little wonder that Ripon celebrates this time of year with the Almond Blossom Festival.
The three-day event is now in its 51st year. Not only does it celebrate the first major valley crop to bloom but it also marks the start of the street fair and carnival season in the San Joaquin Valley.
The Ripon Chamber of Commerce presents the 51st Annual Almond Blossom Festival on Feb. 22-24 at the Mistlin Sports Park at 1202 E. River Road in Ripon. There will be a variety of food and craft vendors at the three-day festival. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24. There is a $5 parking charge.
• CARNIVAL: The California Carnival is having a special $1 per ride at night on Thursday, Feb. 21, starting at 5 p.m. at Mistlin Sports Park. Advance sale discount Carnival Tickets for the final three days of the carnival are now on sale at the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, 929 West Main Street and Ripon Police Department, 259 No. Wilma Ave.
• PARADE: The parade this year is on Saturday, Feb. 23, and will begin at 1p.m. The route remains unchanged through downtown Ripon. The theme “Blossoming with Age” honors Bethany Home.
• SPAGHETTI DINNER: The Lion’s Club Spaghetti Dinner runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Community Center.
• QUEEN CORONATION: The Almond Blossom Queen Coronation is Thursday, Feb. 21, starting at 7 p.m. at the Community Center and marks the actual start of the Festival.
• DIAPER DERBY: The return of the nationally famous Diaper Derby is Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. at the Ripon High School Abeyta-Hortim Gymnasium. This year the Diaper Derby is sponsored by the MOMS Club of Ripon-Salida. For a fee of $5, this venue allows babies of crawling age to show their stuff in a race to the finish for cash prizes and trophy. To pick up an application please stop by the chamber office.
• QUARTERBACK CLUB DANCE: The Ripon Quarterback Club will have their annual dance on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 8 p.m. to midnight. There is a $10 donation and you must be 21 and over to attend the dance.
• FUN RUN: The Annual Almond Blossom Run is Saturday, Feb. 23, with a 1-mile and 8K Run. Entry fee is $20 per person or if you would like to run both races the fee is $25. Medal awards and cash will be presented to the winners in each race.
The entry forms are available at the Ripon Chamber Office. To receive a Fun Run T-shirt entry forms must be turned in by Feb. 8.
• GRANGE BREAKFAST: The Ripon Grange #511 Breakfast is on Saturday, Feb. 23. Hours are from 6 to 11 a.m. at the Grange Hall, 827 Ripona Ave., Adults are $6, children under the age of 10 years are $4. Tickets are available at the Ripon Chamber of Commerce office and the Tank House Gift Shoppe.
• CRAFT & BAKE SALE: The Ripon Senior Center is having their Almond Blossom Festival Craft & Bake Sale on Friday, Feb. 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ripon Senior Center and Saturday, Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Ripon Senior Center is located at 433 South Wilma Ave.
By DENNIS WYATT
209 staff reporter