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Mountain Mandarin Festival celebrates local crop

Popular event features tons of fresh citrus and more

Fresh mandarins, of course, are the stars of the Mountain Mandarin Festival, but the event also features music, crafts and food booths.

Fresh mandarins, of course, are the stars of the Mountain Mandarin Festival, but the event also features music, crafts and food booths. Courtesy Mountain Mandarin Festival

It’s mandarin season. If you crave those little citrus gems, there’s no better place to soak up some local flavor than this weekend in Auburn. The 30th annual Mountain Mandarin Festival returns to the Gold Country Fairgrounds with the pick of the crop – rain or shine.

Friday through Sunday, Nov. 17-19, enjoy the three-day citrus celebration including tons of just-picked fruit. The family- and foodie-friendly event usually attracts about 30,000 people over its long weekend.

“Placer County growers will sell thousands of pounds of fresh mandarin oranges and gift baskets, accompanied by all the free samples you like,” say the organizers. “Join in the fun with food, artisan crafts, and activities featuring the mandarin orange and music!”

This year, there will be plenty of fruit to enjoy. Tons of fresh Placer-grown mandarins are ready for the event as well as countless mandarin-related products.

Scores of farmers and other vendors will be on hand, offering their locally grown fruit and other products. Snack on mandarin-flavored treats. Shop mandarin-inspired gift ideas and decorations. For extra zest, listen to live music and performances at the main stage.

In addition, the Placer County master gardeners will staff a booth all three days. Get your 2024 garden guide and calendar! The theme: “Try Something New … Ever Changing Gardens.”

Want to grow your own citrus? The master gardeners will offer advice on growing mandarins and all their citrus cousins as well as other fruit trees. Get advice on planting bare-root roses and winter vegetables, too. As an extra bonus, get free seeds (while they last).

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 pm. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

General admission is $12; children age 9 and younger are admitted free. Seniors: $8. Friday discount admission: $7. No pets admitted.

Gold Country Fairgrounds is located at 209 Fairgate Road, Auburn.

For tickets and details: www.mandarinfestival.com.

-- Debbie Arrington

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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