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Strawberry festival draws in 15,500 visitors

By: Brad Smith -- The Press Tribune
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For the second year in a row, the Roseville Strawberry Festival pulled in the crowds. On Monday morning, event organizer John Javidan said more than 15,500 people came through the fairground gates. “Not as many people as we had last year,” he said. “The weather Sunday didn’t cooperate well with us – but who’s to argue with Mother Nature on Mother’s Day?” Javidan said he had a lot of positive feedback from festival attendees. “People seemed to enjoy the different kinds of strawberry-flavored recipes and food items,” he said. “The strawberry pizza and the strawberry beer seemed to be very popular. Everyone loved the pancakes and shortcakes, too.” Lost Coast Brewery of Humboldt County made the beer for the festival this year, Javidan said. “They did a great job,” he said. “It’s not strawberry flavored beer – it’s real beer made with real strawberries. It tastes great.” Javidan said the strawberry farmers and other produce growers did well. “Which is great since they’re essential to the festival,” he said. Billie-Jean Salle, a Wheatland produce grower, helped Javidan with lining up growers to setup sales booths. “Some of the growers had to replenish their stock two or three times,” Salle said. “People were buying strawberries and other fresh produce in large numbers. Some were buying several strawberry-filled flats at a time.” She said each flat held 12 baskets. “Some of the growers have sold more than 100 flats within a few hours,” she said. “That’s a lot of strawberries and other produce leaving this festival.” Santa Maria grower Salvador Gonzales said his sales were down slightly from last year’s. “But people are still buying them so I can’t complain.” Clark Kenny was busy selling strawberry-flavored shaved ice and barbeque foods including tri-tip, chicken and hot dogs on Saturday. “Lots of hungry and thirsty people here today,” he said. “Which is fine by me. I’m here to serve them with whatever they want.” In fact, festivalgoers had a choice between Bubba’s BBQ – Kenny’s business – and a wide variety of food that included Greek, fried seafood, Asian, pizza (even strawberry pizza) and Southern style fried frog legs, which tasted a bit like oysters. One stand sold strawberry flan, while next door people eat chocolate-dipped strawberries. “I believe in giving folks a wide variety of food,” Javidan said. Erika Patchin was one of the many people who attended the event on Sunday. She had been to the old Placer County Strawberry Festival before. “I had fun back then,” the Roseville resident said. “Then I stopped going for a few years.” However, there was a good chance that she would be coming back for next year’s. “The strawberry margarita is cold and this corn dog is great,” she said. “I mean what more could anyone ask for?” Patchin’s mother, Lynn Brechtel of Hayward, was enjoying herself as well. “I’m having a good time,” she said. “It’s a different way to celebrate Mother’s Day but that’s fine by me.” Patchin said they might be come back nest year. “If they keep making the magaritas this good, yes, I’ll be back,” she said. Javidan said on Monday all of the vendors reported that they had great sales at the festival. “We had a good run this year,” he said. “And we’ll be doing it again next year.” However, there was one down side for Javidan. “I entered the strawberry shortcake eating contest on Saturday,” he said. “I lost.” Javidan said others in the contest took it way too seriously. “One guy left teeth marks on the Styrofoam plate,” he said. “How can you compete against someone like that?” Brad Smith can be reached at brads@goldcountrymedia.com.