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Loomis celebrates 36th annual Eggplant Festival

Free community party features food, music, shopping and family fun

Loomis celebrates all things eggplant this Saturday, Oct. 7. The festival and parking are free.

Loomis celebrates all things eggplant this Saturday, Oct. 7. The festival and parking are free. Courtesy Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce

Go purple! Here’s a salute to a Sacramento Valley vegetable (or is it fruit?) that doesn’t get its due: The 36th annual Loomis Eggplant Festival.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, all things eggplant will be in the spotlight as the Town of Loomis celebrates its agricultural roots. Hosted by the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce, the festival will be held at the Loomis Train Depot, 5775 Horseshoe Bar Road, Loomis. Admission and parking are free.

“Step back to some of California’s rural roots in farming and fruit packing,” say the organizers. “Loomis was the primary hub for regional fruit packing at the historic Train Depot where the Eggplant Festival is held.”

More than 100 vendors and community groups are expected to take part in the festival, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Sponsors Raley’s and High-Hand Nursery will hand out free eggplants to patrons, while supply lasts.

All cooks are invited to participate in the eggplant cooking contest. Submit your finished dish plus the recipe by 10:30 a.m. Entry in the contest is free with $100 to the winner.

“Eggplant Festival vendors include some of the best food vendors, craftsmen, and artists in Placer County, so plan on taking time to explore, shop, and dine while taking in entertainment on two stages,” say the organizers. “The cooking contest will bring out some tasty treats, all featuring eggplant, with local, fresh craft beer on hand to wash these tantalizing bites down, including Loomis’s own Loomis Basin Brewery and High-Hand Brewery.”

Plenty of family stuff is on tap, too. Check in at the Little House of Eggplant next to the Train Depot entrance and get a full schedule of activities.

Hosted by the South Placer Fire District, a free pancake breakfast starts things off from 8 to 10 a.m. at Firehouse Station 18, 5840 Horseshoe Bar Road, down the block from the Train Depot. That’s followed by a kazoo parade at 10 a.m.; pick up a free kazoo at the Little House of Eggplant.

For details and directions: https://www.loomischamber.com/eggplant-festival/.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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