Within the next week or so if Mother Nature cooperates, the early varieties of almonds in the stark orchards surrounding Ripon as well as Manteca and Escalon will start setting buds.
They are the precursor to a seemingly endless sea of pink and white blossoms that will signal the approach of spring as well as that of the first major community festival of 2020 in the Northern San Joaquin Valley — the 58th annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival.
The four-day event from Thursday, Feb. 20, through Sunday, Feb. 23, features plenty of fun activities including a family-orientated carnival as well as a festival complete with numerous vendors, food options and entertainment.
The setting for the festival is magical given Mistlin Sports Park where it takes place on Ripon Road will by then be surrounded on three sides by blooming orchards.
The actual festival is Friday, Feb. 21, from 3 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 22, from10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vendor space is $475 for food, $450 for commercial or informational, $375 for arts and crafts, $350 for non-profit, and $325 for a Ripon chamber member. Vendor application forms are on the Ripon chamber website.
The carnival opens at Mistlin Sports Park on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 5 to 10 p.m. It continues Friday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 22, from noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 23, from noon to 5 p.m.
The Thursday, Feb. 20, events include a bake-off from 7 to 10 a.m., the Ripon Lions spaghetti dinner from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the queen coronation from 7 to 9 p.m. all at the Ripon Community Center on Fifth Street.
The queen candidates are Zoe Barba, Abigail Laswell, Jordan Machado, Macie McPeak, Sophia Medina, Kelly Nguyen, Maliah Rodriguez, and Madyson Valencia.
The Friday, Feb. 21, activities include a craft and bake sale starting at 9 a.m. at the Ripon Senior Center, an open house at the Clarence Smit Museum from 4 to 7 p.m., and an antique tractor show at Mistlin Sports Park. The tractor show will continue on Saturday and Sunday as well.
Saturday, Feb. 22, starts off with the Grange Pancake Breakfast from 6 to 11 a.m. at the Grange Hall and the American Legion Auxiliary from 7 a.m. to noon at the Legion Hall, fun run starting at 8:30 a.m. at Marvis Stouffer Park, a bake and craft sake starting at 9 a.m. at the Ripon Senior Center, a bake sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the diaper derby at 10 a.m. at the Ripon High North Gym, and the Ripon Quarterback Club Brats & Drinks at the Ripon Community Center from 1 to 7 p.m. The parade starts at 1 p.m. through the downtown district.
On Sunday, Feb. 23, the Ripon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1051 will host a buffet breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon at the post hall.
Vendor applications and entry forms for the parade, diaper derby, and fun run as well as other information can be found at riponchamber.org.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org