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The strawberry is back in style

By: Brad Smith -- The Press Tribune
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John Javidan remembers the last time he attended the old Placer County Strawberry Festival, he told himself things would be done differently. The first thing he would do was bring the strawberry back to the festival. “I felt that previous festivals were held too early in the season,” Javidan said. “For me, there weren’t a lot of locally-grown strawberries represented. I didn’t see a lot of representation from the local farmers.” Javidan, along with his wife Sally, own Johny 5 Productions – they are event coordinators who are used to planning and overseeing special events, even large-scale ones. In early 2009, Javidan stepped in when previous organizer Becki Carlson stopped producing the Placer County Strawberry Festival due to rising costs. “Now I had my chance,” he said. “It was time to reboot the festival.” One of the first things Javidan did was change the date to accommodate the local strawberry growers. While he still wanted growers from outside the region, he wanted to make it easier for local growers to participate in the festival. “It was an oversight I felt that needed to be addressed,” Javidan said. “It is the ‘Roseville’ Strawberry Festival. Shouldn’t we promote growers who live in the Roseville area?” He also wanted independent growers taking part in the festival – not wholesalers. “I feel that the festival is the right venue for independent growers,” Javidan said. “This is their place to promote strawberries that they’ve worked long and hard to grow. I want people to experience or even buy strawberries straight from growers not some wholesaler.” As he lined up food vendors, Javidan insisted that they have at least a one item or recipe featuring strawberries. Another stipulation was that the strawberries used in the recipe must be purchased from growers participating in the festival. “I felt that it was a good way for vendors and growers to promote their respective wares,” Javidan said. Billie-Jean Salle, of Salle Orchards near Wheatland, is helping Javidan with the vendors. “Two strawberry farmers will be selling to the food vendors,” Salle said. “This season’s strawberry crop looks great. The berries are nice, plump and sugary.” Salle has worked with Javidan in the past by bringing in local farmers to Downtown Tuesday Nights, one of his other Johny5 ventures. “I helped bring in some growers, so we could sell produce downtown,” she said. She said that four to six strawberry growers have signed on for this year’s festival. There will be a cross-section of other growers, too, she said. “Yes, we’re a strawberry festival but strawberries complement other foods,” Salle said. “Aside from strawberries, people can get bananas, nuts, dried fruits and other items.” Salle said she had been to early festivals and compared them to last Javidan’s first Roseville Strawberry Festival. “I thought it was a big improvement,” she said. “Maybe I’m being too biased. The old festivals were becoming too commercialized. John steered us away from that.” Last year’s Strawberry Festival proved to be a success, drawing in more than 17,000 people. Javidan said the event happened smoothly. “Everyone involved had a great time,” he said. Clark Kenny, whose Bubba’s BBQ was part of last year’s festival, said he had a lot of fun. “It was a great time,” he said. “I just enjoyed being in my booth, watching kids running around and having fun. And, people liked what we made.” Kenny specializes as a special event food vendor and his Bubba’s BBQ booth turns out tri-tip sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, corn dogs and other barbeque fare. “We have a special strawberry spread that we use on our sandwiches,” Kenny said. “People love it.” Kenny said his experience with festivalgoers last year was one reason why he wanted to come back. “I think people were so happy that the festival was back,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere to work in and be a part of.” Javidan has big plans for the festival. “I want us to thrive and become as popular as it once was,” he said. “Back in the day, the old festival brought in as many as 65,000 people. I think we can top that in time.” ---------- The Roseville Strawberry Festival When: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday Where: Placer County Fairgrounds, 800 All America City Blvd. Admission : $8 Adults $5 Seniors Children 11 and under are free Pancake Breakfast: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m., $6 Schedule Miller Lite Stage Saturday May 8 Band 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mad Dash Band break 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Dr. Solars Medicine Show Band break 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Coordinator announcements and sponsor recognition Band 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Rhythm Vandals Band break 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Classic Car Cruise awards Band break 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Raffle Drawings Sunday May 9 Band 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 Tight 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Izzi Tooniskies Little Giant Theater 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. Coordinator Announcements and Sponsor recognition Band 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., California Cash Band break 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Classic Car Cruise awards Band break 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Raffle Drawings, Vendor Awards, Plant Contest Awards Comcast kids stage at the Caboose in the PennySaver Fun Zone Saturday May 8 11 a.m. Izzi Tooniskies Little Giant Theater 12 p.m. The Magic Man and his Family of Clowns 1 p.m. Izzi Tooniskies Little Giant Theater 2 p.m. Dr. Solars Medicine Show 3 p.m. Izzi Tooniskies Little Giant Theater 4 p.m. Boy Scouts Shortcake eating contest 5:30 p.m. Dr. Solars Medicine Show Sunday May 9 11 a.m. Dr. Solars Medicine Show 12 p.m. The Magic Man and his Fa.m.ily of Clowns 1 p.m. Dr. Solars Medicine Show 2 p.m. Izzi Tooniskies Little Giant Theater 3 p.m. Dr. Solars Medicine Show 4 p.m. Boy Scouts Shortcake eating contest 5:30p.m. Izzi Tooniskies Little Giant Theater Pageant Stage Saturday May 8th 2 p.m. Miss Strawberry Pageant All America Speedway Saturday May 8th Mother's Night!! 200 lap Enduro, Interceptors 6 p.m., additional cost ---------- Brad Smith can be reached at brads@goldcountrymedia.com.