Sunday, March 08, 2009

Butter! No, its Chiffon.

For anyone born before 1970, you may know the television commercial with Mother Nature sitting in a rocking chair, surrounded by woodland creatures, eating what she thinks is a buttered muffin. When she discovers she has been fooled by margarine, she exclaims, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature." There is a loud crackle of thunder and you immediately realize the folly in trying to trick her.

All of which brings us to the Capay Valley Almond Festival. Since 1915, the festival has taken place on the last Sunday in February. The festival coincides with the almond tree blossoms. Rain or shine, the "Almond Festival" as it is know by the locals, is a tradition. As it is with most traditions, change comes with more than a little resistance.

This year was typical almond festival weather; the last Sunday in February was filled with rain, and lots of it. The locals, who were not buying into the new festival date, crowded into the Capay Junction to keep the tradition alive. I know because I was one of them. While I applaud their stiffed neck response to moving the date, I am inclined to believe this is a win-win proposition. Follow along with me.

You can hold a party on the traditional Sunday, and if the weather is nice, you can laugh at the folks who moved the festival date. If it pours that day and its nice two weeks later, you have enjoyed both days. It is a win-win situation, at least for a decade or so. With each passing year, the last Sunday in February will lose a little of its luster. Ultimately, it will fall the way of Washington's Birthday.

Do not get me started on President's day; I have a few choice words on taking Washington and Lincoln's birthday and reducing them to a generic holiday. If there were ever two Americans to celebrate, I can't think any better. But I digress.

The main problem, as I see it, is the almond trees will have finished blooming by March 15. The whole idea of the Almond Festival is to see the valley in its full glory. This past weekend was a wonderful time to experience the Valley. The white almond blossoms, the lush green grass on the hillside, the soft fragrance of spring in the air, the "NO PRISON IN MADISON" signs along Highway 16, it was just perfect.

If you have a few hours of free time this Sunday, take a trip up the Capay Valley. The Almond Festival is a great time, food everywhere, kid’s games, car chows, Harleys and the beauty of the Valley.

If you come in early, Esparto's FFA chapter will have a Pancake breakfast at the High School gym, then head up for live music at the Capay Junction, more food and a craft fair at the Guinda Western Grange Hall and a trip to the festival is not complete unless you have at least one of the Famous Rumsey Ribs.

If you are new to the area and have never driven up the Capay Valley, this is a great time to see it, even if some of the blossoms have already fallen to the ground.

Well, you know what she says, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

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