Headed out early this morning to be one of the first visitors to the Yuma Lettuce Festival. For the first time it was held at the University of Arizona Yuma Agricultural Center.
I was determined to get a ticket for one of the University tours of their agricultural fields. Just like the Date Festival and the Behind the Big Guns Tour, I didn’t succeed. Seems I didn’t know they sold tickets ahead of time at the Yuma Visitors Center. Dog gone it! There was not one seat available all weekend long. There’s just too many old fart snowbirds down here that can just drive over to get tickets any time they want. (I know I’m one of them, but I’m just feeling a little crotchety tonight.)
After that disappointment, I decided to enjoy the festival anyway. Since I’m not fond of huge crowds, I like to arrive early before the hordes descend. That means I was only there about two hours before the place was jam packed. Tonight I’ll just show you several of the things I liked best.
One of my first stops was at the booth of Chef Ray Duey. Seems Chef Ray was a Food Network Challenge winner, and returned to the festival to demonstrate his vegetable and fruit carving skills. Can you believe those melons in the top right? And if you look closely in the background of that pic you can see where he carved out a flower from a watermelon. That flower is in the lower right hand picture. That man didn’t say one word as he worked. I wish he would have talked a bit about how he constructed these designs.
Along the same line of booths, was The Salsa Cantina run by the AWC (Arizona Western College?) culinary students. I don’t know much about salsa, so I enjoyed the fun here. For three bucks, the students would build a salsa to your own tastes. You moved down the line, and the students added the ingredients you chose. I pretty much relied on this chef-to-be to make me something savory that was not spicy. I had it at home for lunch and it was very tasty. Next time, though, I think I’d skip the cilantro. There was also a choice of having a sweet salsa made with different chopped fruits. I could kick myself now for not getting a container of each.
After the booths, I moved out into the fields where there were farmers and students explaining planting machines and horticultural problems. I stopped at the plant diseases table to learn about sclerotinia drop. If you look at the photos from right to left, you can see the results of this drop on a head of lettuce. Ick!!
I think the best display at the festival was put on by Dole. Got a free sample of mandarin oranges, and really found their posters on the growing and harvesting of vegetables in this area very educational. I also had a nice chat with a young Dole employee about how difficult it is to be a field hand out picking all those vegetables that we throw into our cart at the grocery store. A pleasant morning off of the refuge.
According to the weather guessers, we’re going to be in for some moisture replacing the high winds of the last few days. That means the dirt roads to the refuge will probably be a mess with possible flooding. I’m hoping it holds off until after my bird tour tomorrow morning.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy