Alison Martinez knew that she had a good thing going with her 45-year-old almond brittle recipe.
But when a friend suggested that she take out a booth at the Ripon Almond Blossom Festival, she realized how good it actually is.
People loved it.
That was five years ago, and ever since Alison’s Almond Brittle has been a staple at farmer’s markets and regional fairs throughout the area – mixing the classic staple that she started with a variety of other nuts and recipes that have made the endeavor a successful one.
But being a Ripon-based business, there’s something, she said, about being close to home and where it all started.
“This one has to be my favorite because you get a lot of regular customers but you also get a lot of new people and a lot of friends that come by,” she said. “This is by far the biggest event for us, and we’re looking forward to a great weekend.”
Martinez was one of dozens of vendors who took to the unseasonably warm Friday afternoon at Mistlin Park for the opening day of the festival that is expected to draw as many as 40,000 people to Ripon over the course of the next two days. The festival is today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Mistlin Sports Park on River Road in Ripon.
But she wasn’t the only one selling the namesake nut that the festival pays tribute to.
Turlock resident Freddie Graham, who was manning his “Crazy For Nuts” booth along the promenade, was handing out free tastes of candied almonds and pecans that he prepares onsite for hungry festival-goers – something that he does all over the country.
While it gives him something to do in retirement, it’s the interaction with the people that he looks forward to the most – especially at events close to his Stanislaus County home where he knows he’ll get a healthy dose of friends and new customers over the course of a weekend.
The fact that warm weather is expected to ensure that business is good for nearly all vendors doesn’t hurt either.
“This fair always depends on the weather, but it’s supposed to be a good one,” Graham said. “Being here in Ripon always is though, and it’s a great opportunity to visit with the people and get to know them and just really enjoy the weekend for what it is.
“We do everything here onsite and it’s not impossible for us go through 50 pounds of almonds and 40 pounds of pecans if things go as planned, so we’re happy to be here.”
And if the basics aren’t your bag, then Rodin Farms has all of your bases covered.
From almond butter and butter toffee almonds to chocolate and lemon coated, the Oakdale based outfit offers up a bit of everything for people looking to take home a little slice of the fair’s heritage.
Christina Bradshaw, of Oakdale, said that just about everything will sell over the course of the next two days, but noted that the almond butter and the butter toffee almonds are the most popular at each of their stops.
“People really like just about everything, but the almond butter is one of the biggest sellers,” she said. “And this is definitely the place to have it for sale.”