For two days, Girsh Park became a place for carnival rides, face painting, pie eating contests, live music and good food at the Twentieth Annual Goleta Lemon Festival. The festival, held on Oct. 15 and 16, celebrated Goleta, its people, and the lemons that grow there.
Lemon history in Goleta started in 1875 when Sherman Stow planted 600 acres of lemon trees on his ranch. After discovering that the weather provided perfect climate for his plants, he shared this knowledge with neighbors and fellow ranch owners. Soon after lemon trees began to fill the landscape. The trees are now a prevalent sight along the hills of Goleta and the Lemon Festival aims to celebrate the culture.
The Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce organizes the event by coordinating vendors and recruiting volunteers from local high schools, junior highs and community groups.
“It supports local businesses and brings people of all different demographics together,” said Lisa Rivas, the chairperson of the Lemon Festival Committee, who believes the festival serves a critical purpose in the community. “It’s very family oriented.”
Lemons could be spotted on the table and booth of every vendor, which included the Stow House museum, in honor of Sherman Stow, and smaller local businesses. Though the lemons were in no short supply, the same could not be said for the lemon meringue pies being sold by volunteers of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, many of whom were sporting “I love Goleta” shirts.
Teresa Hernandez, a volunteer who has worked at the pie booth for 11 years confessed the never-ending line extending in curves away from the booth did not stop rushing since it first opened.
“It’s been really busy,” Hernandez said. “But it’s like this every year and it’s nice.”
Many of the people operating the booths are volunteers and students looking to fulfill school requirements.
“We’re doing our community service hours, enjoying the festival, and having a good time,” said Lily Mora, a volunteer at the pie booth.
Candidates for Goleta Teen of the Year volunteer and sell lemon-flavored cotton candy at a Rotary Club of Goleta booth.
David Gore, a member of the Rotary Club and coordinator of the booth, said it gives them a “chance to do something new but fun.”
Though focused around lemons and the history of Goleta, the festival also celebrates the changes that have occurred in our community and the progress being made for the future. Local businesses use the event to increase their exposure and attract new costumers while other booths encourage recycling and water conservation. The festival also included the seventh annual Goleta Classic Car and Street Rod Show, attracting vintage car lovers.
Amidst the sweet smell of lemons, the festival concluded on Sunday and Goleta residents and business owners cleaned up to wait another year for an experience that was anything but sour.