Seven sweet and savory food festivals to attend this season


From peaches to tacos, we’ve got the best of the fests for the region’s summertime food celebrations. Here are seven great ways to partake in the abundance of the Golden State this season.

Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival
May 30-31
The artichoke—which is almost exclusively grown in California and was ordained as the state veggie in 2013 by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom—will get the star treatment at this 56th annual festival in Castroville. In addition to sampling various preparations (fried, steamed, grilled and roasted) and infused items (ravioli, burritos, ice cream and cupcakes), you can also take part in contests like the artichoke-eating competition and the Marilyn Monroe look-alike contest (the iconic blonde bombshell was crowned the first Artichoke Queen in 1948) or head to one of the nearby artichoke farms and learn about the agricultural production of the crop firsthand. $10 ($5 for ages 4-12; free for ages 3 & under). Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monterey County Fair & Event Center. 2004 Fairgrounds Rd. Monterey.

Gumbo Ya Ya
June 6 & 7
Go gaga for gumbo at Louisiana Sue’s yearly fete in honor of the Southern okra-based stew. While gorging on seven different types of gumbo (adventurous eaters can try the version with alligator meat), festival-goers can also indulge in down-home favorites like fried catfish and barbecue ribs washed down with a Gumbo Mary (a bloody Mary-style cocktail made with okra). Local bands like the Kyle Rowland Blues Band, jazz-rock quartet Todd Morgan & the Emblems, and the Oakland-based band BeaufunK, featuring Michael Jeffries of Tower of Power fame, will perform. $15 ($12.50 in advance; free for ages 15 and under). Sat. 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sun. 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Yolo County Fairgrounds. 1250 East Gum Ave. Woodland. 962-6415.

Raley Field Brewfest
June 12
The home of the Rivercats turns into a hop haven for its ninth annual beer bash, featuring more than 50 Northern California breweries pouring tastes of their trademark brews, including local favorites like Hoppy Brewing Company and Oak Park Brewing Company. True hopheads can sample rare, seasonal and small batch beers in a separate tent. Pair the suds with ballpark grub like Dinger dogs (covered in chili and cheese) or Raley Field’s infamous doughnut bacon cheeseburgers while grooving to ’80s hits provided by local cover band, 8 Track Massacre. $45 ($40 in advance plus $10 for tent tasting); 6-10 p.m. Raley Field. 400 Ballpark Dr. West Sacramento. 376-4000.

Sacramento Taco Festival
June 20
This Del Paso block party will take tacos to a new level when it comes to North Sacramento for its second year. The traditional corn tortilla will cradle everything from marinated Mexican meats like carnitas and asada to high-end fillings like lobster and vegetarian-friendly stuffing like beans and potatoes. Park at the main stage to witness the onslaught of event competitions, including eating contests (iron-stomached competitors can try the mystery meat taco-eating competition), taco-making contests (festival-goers can vote for their favorite) and Chihuahua beauty contests. Other highlights of the all-day affair include Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) and musical performances by acts like Sacramento-based cover band Q-Vo, and The Sweet Bones, a Spanish garage-punk group out of San Francisco. $10 (Free for ages 12 and under). 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Del Paso Blvd. between El Camino Ave. and Arden Way. 914-4665.

Marysville Peach Festival
July 17-18
At this two-day street fair, load up on a variety of fresh peaches from Yuba and Sutter county farmers like Sodaro Orchards, Urbina Family Farms and Bocks Fruit. Little ones can participate in activities like a water balloon relay, hula-hoop contest and, of course, a pie-eating contest. On Saturday morning, start things off bright and early with a 5k walk/run, and partake in a pancake breakfast where the hot cakes are smothered in warm, sweet peaches before heading out to try the array of dishes highlighting the sweet stone fruit like peach cobbler, peach ice cream, peach salsa, barbecue peach burgers and peach kettle corn. Free. Fri. 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Downtown Marysville. 530-749-3954.

Gilroy Garlic Festival
July 24-26 Spice up the summer at this 37th annual festival that will dish out two tons of garlic harvested from Gilroy’s Christopher Ranch. At the event’s Gourmet Alley, fill up on foods like garlic calamari, garlic fries and garlic scampi. Attendees can also try novelty treats like garlic ice cream, browse over 100 art booths, take the kids to a play area with zip lines or attend Sunday’s Garlic Showdown where chefs will compete for garlicky glory. $20 per adult. Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Christmas Hill Park. 7050 Miller Ave. 408-842-1625.

Courtland Pear Fair
July 26 Come to the small Delta town of Courtland to celebrate its signature export – the Bartlett pear. Take home pounds of pears from the area’s farms, as well as homemade pear-stuffed treats like pies (get there early for the pies; they can sell out fast), fritters, breads, tarts and ice cream. Sip on a sudsy pear cider and stop by local merchant booths with wares like a pear-inspired tea set. Kids can climb on a rock wall, race their friends in an inflatable obstacle course or get quackin’ in a duck-calling competition. Other yearly activities will include a pie-eating contest and a display of archival photos in the town’s auditorium. Free ($10 parking). 9 a.m.-6 p.m. 180 Primasing Ave. Courtland. 775-2000.

You Might Also Like
13 top farmers’ markets to visit around the Sacramento region
Taste: The region's latest food, drink & restaurant news
First look: Brasserie Capitale serves up a French revelation on K Street