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Almond Festival returns to Capay Valley

After year off, popular event celebrates spring bloom in five towns


Almond blossoms against blue sky
Almond blossoms and the crop itself are celebrated
during the Capay Valley Almond Festival this weekend.
(Photos courtesy Capay Valley Almond Festival)

It’s time to get out and enjoy the almond blossoms (if they’re still there).

This weekend marks the 107th annual Capay Valley Almond Festival, a five-town salute to this major California crop.

After canceling the festival in 2021 due to Covid restrictions, the small cities of Esparto, Capay, Brooks, Guinda and Rumsey will again host all things almond with special events Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 26 and 27. Held on the last weekend in February, the festival showcases the beauty of the almond groves in the Capay Valley while saluting this signature crop.

Started in 1915, the almond festival originally was held in October as a harvest celebration. In 1964, the then-new Esparto Regional Chamber of Commerce breathed new life into the almond fest and switched it to early spring when the blossoms are in bloom.

Will there be flowers? Unseasonably warm weather in early February brought out the blossoms very early. Then, extremely cold overnight temperatures this past week forced many almond trees to drop their flowers prematurely. Nonetheless, there still will be trees in bloom along the Capay Valley almond trail and lots of almonds (from the 2021 crop) for festival weekend.

Each town will have something different going. For example, Esparto will host music, food trucks, vendor booths and an almond bake-off Saturday. On Sunday, Esparto festivities start with a breakfast at 8 a.m. and continue all day with music, food trucks, vendor booths, carnival rides and more (including appearances by the 2022 Almond Queen and her court).

Some Capay Valley landmarks will host their own almond-themed events. Seka Hills Olive Mill in Brooks will host Almond Festival events from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Admission to most events is free. For a schedule of what’s going on when and where, check out www.espartoregionalchamber.com/almond-festival-capay-valley-cache-creek-california and www.facebook.com/capayvalleyalmondfestival .


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Nov. 27

Before the rain comes later in the week, take advantage of sunny, calm days:

* This may be your last chance this season for the first application of copper fungicide spray to peach and nectarine trees. Leaf curl, which shows up in the spring, is caused by a fungus that winters as spores on the limbs and around the tree in fallen leaves. Sprays are most effective now, but they need a few days of dry weather after application to really “stick.” If you haven’t yet, spray now.

* Rake and compost leaves, but dispose of any diseased plant material. For example, if peach and nectarine trees showed signs of leaf curl this year, clean up under trees and dispose of those leaves instead of composting.

* Make sure storm drains are clear of any debris.

* Give your azaleas, gardenias and camellias a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches above the ground after they’re done blooming. Keep potted mums in their containers until next spring. Then, they can be planted in the ground, if desired, or repotted.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while dormant.

* Plant bulbs for spring bloom. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Other suggestions: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas.

* Seed wildflowers including California poppies.

* Also from seed, plant sweet pea, sweet alyssum, bachelor buttons and other spring flowers.

* Plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from winter rains.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and cool-season greens can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* If you decide to use a living Christmas tree this year, keep it outside in a sunny location until Christmas week. This reduces stress on the young tree.

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