Event is kickoff for the 26th annual California Lemon Festival Sept. 16-17 at Girsh Park
Children tested out ‘lemon launchers’ made for a competition at the California Lemon Festival’s kickoff event Wednesday at the Glen Annie Golf Club. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
More than 75 Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce members and supporters celebrated the Goleta Valley’s largest community gathering Wednesday evening with the Lemon Launch kickoff event at the Glen Annie Golf Club.
The park is on Santa Felicia Drive in Goleta and behind Home Depot, 6975 Market Place Drive.
“It’s a big, hometown and family friendly festival that makes everyone feel that we are a community together,” said Kristen Miller, chamber president and CEO. “I love the youth performances from the local schools. It speaks to our local values, and it’s amazing to see how talented they are.”
An estimated 40,000 people are expected to attend the two-day festival, said Michele Schneider, the chamber’s director of business development.
The gathering commemorates the history of the citrus fruit in the Goleta region and goes back to its roots when Sherman Stow — builder of the Stow House in Goleta — planted 600 acres of lemon orchards on his ranch in 1875.
This year’s free event features pie-eating contests, as well as lemony food and drink vendors.
“We are going to have more lemon-centric things this year,” said Anne Pazier, chairwoman of the festival and a chamber board member. “Every food booth is required to have at least one item that is lemon related.”
Rock climbing, carnival rides, miniature golf and bounce houses will be set up in the kids’ zone. Pre-sale wristbands for unlimited access to children’s activities are available online for $ 25. Advance wristband sales end at 5 p.m. Sept. 15.
The start of lemon season in Goleta kicked off Wednesday night at the Lemon Launch event at the Glen Annie Golf Club. The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors gathered for a photo at the event that helped mark the 26th annual California Lemon Festival on Sept. 16-17. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
There will be live entertainment from local dancers and music groups.
Guests 21-and-over can sip lemon ale brewed by Hollister Brewing Company, play cornhole and watch college and the National Football League in the outdoor “Lemon Lounge.”
“What’s unique about the festival is that there’s a little bit of something for everyone,” Pazier said. “We go out of our way to make sure those participating are local — it’s supporting our community. We want to ensure everyone who benefits is local.”
The Glen Annie Golf Club sponsored Wednesday’s Lemon Launch event, where all eyes were on the children launching the yellow fruit from a catapult to compete for distance. Attendees also enjoyed appetizers and local beer and wine.
Another festival pre-event is the Goleta Education Foundation’s Lemon Run, which takes place Sept. 10. Proceeds from the run benefit elementary students in the Goleta Valley’s nine schools.
The Goleta Fall Classic Car show, presented by DCH Lexus of Santa Barbara, takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept 16 at Girsh Park.
Other sunshine sponsors include American Riviera Bank, BlueStar Parking, City Ventures, Classic Party Rentals, GoGoleta, Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, KARL STORZ Imaging, Parentclick.com, Rincon Broadcasting LLC and Spherion.
Hunter Schneider, who is 2 1/2 years old and the honorary “lemon prince” at this year’s 26th annual California Lemon Festival, plays with a catapults on Wednesday that sent lemons through the air to a target on hole 9 at the Glen Annie Golf Club in Goleta. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)