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Borrego Springs, CA

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lettuce Days Festival

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. 

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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.) 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

20 comments:

  1. We missed that last year...looks Iike fun! Sorry you couldn't go on the tour of the fields.
    I am addicted to salsa and would have gotten one of every kind!

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  2. I wish I had the patience to carve like Chef Ray, but I'd prob end up throwing whatever I was carving on up against a wall or something! And that is one nasty-looking head of lettuce. Sure looked like a fun festival. I like doing stuff like this, too.

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  3. Glad you got out for road trip but so sorry you didn't get the tickets you wanted. The fruit carving is amazing. I would have gone for the fruit salsa too. Somehow I always decide after I've left somewhere what I wish I'd done. Did they mention anything about the amount of fertilizers, pesticides or water they use to grow these things in what I assume would be a desert without the Colorado or some other river being dammed?

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  4. Why is it that so many people feel that way about Cilantro?

    Avoiding crowds is always a good thing -- even if that means a shorter stay. Yeah -- and what can we do about all those old people getting tickets ahead of us? We fall prey to the same phenomena.

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  5. Heading your way this morning. Hope to catch sight of you after the Lettuce Festival!

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  6. Sounds like a fun festival... I'd have liked that salsa booth... um um tasty!

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  7. We attended the festival in 2012. It was held downtown then. It was tons of fun.

    Chef Ray Duey is excellent. He is like an artist using food as his medium.

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  8. Yes, I am also a salsa addict...but be sure and throw in extra cilantro, I love it. I carry a plant around with me to add to our salsa.

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  9. We did a farm tour sponsored by the University of California Extension in El Centro, CA. It was less money ($20) than the Yuma tours and we were very pleased. We learned quite a bit and got to pick lots of fresh vegetables. Here's a link to the blog entry I wrote about it. http://rvkhroniclesofkevelyn.blogspot.com/2015/01/farm-smart-visit.html

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  10. That looks like a really interesting place to wander around. LOVE those melons... sooo interesting. Perhaps the guy doesn't talk so he don't slip with his knife??? I don't care for cilantro either....



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  11. That looks like a fun festival. I dislike crowds as well, so when we go to a festival we get there right as it opens, and are generally gone before the crowds close in.

    I think that Teri will put cilantro on anything!! I like it as well, but not as much as Teri...

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  12. Nice to see you got some time off to regain some sanity. Visitor Center cobwebs are hard to remove from the brain, so some melon art work seems to have helped cure you. :c)

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  13. I like your photos and the descriptions of everything...sorry that you couldn't go on the tour!

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  14. I thought to myself at the beginning...LETTUCE festival? Who celebrates lettuce...then I remembered I'm from a town that does a whole big thing about melons so of course there can be a lettuce festival. Too bad you couldn't get on the tour, but you learned a lot anyway, and that makes a successful day.

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  15. That Chef does amazing carvings...he is a real artist! Too bad about the tour. I like salsa and wow they made it to order that is something:)

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  16. We just love going to festivals. What a great talent, I have trouble peeling a banana

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  17. I never thought a lettuce event would be that busy, clearly I am out of touch and an old fart to boot:)

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  18. Thought about going to Lettuce Days but never made it. Getting to where we just don't like crowded events like that anymore. Now I know what we missed!

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  19. Sounds Amazing!! Lettuce day festival seems interesting. I am really fond of huge crowd’s gatherings and so I have booked tickets for NYC events. I will also join the food events there with my friends.

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  20. Nice Post. Thank you for sharing this in Your blog

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