The 30th annual Avocado Festival was held in Carpinteria on Oct. 7–9, gathering thousands of eager avocado-patrons and community members in celebrating the eponymous fruit.
The essence of the festival was in the appreciation of the small, green fruit. Found at numerous booths on Linden Ave., the central hub of the event, the avocado is what attracts thousands of attendees every year. The AvoExpo tent provided festival-goers with insight into the importance of the avocado as well as the history of its cultivation in Santa Barbara County. Without even visiting the tent, anyone from the Central Coast can understand the value of the avocado, as according to the AvoFest website, Santa Barbara County is the third largest producer of avocados in North America.
While commonly found in salads and sandwiches, avocados were the inspiration of variety of extraordinary products at the festival. Avocados were a main ingredient in soaps and oils, as well as in creative edibles such as cream cheese, ice cream and even beer.
Despite these innovative creations, the avo-infused foods didn’t meet their hype. Avocado provided a novelty aspect rather than flavor-enhancement. In particular, the avocado gelato tasted more like a bland vanilla than a remarkable new flavor and the avocado found in tea bread seemed to serve more like a butter substitute and failed to provide any recognizable taste.
Anti-climatically, the most classic dish was the star of the event: the homemade guac succeeded its “revolutionary” avocado alternatives. Just as delicious as one would expect it to be, guacamole sold at the festival was tasteful, tangy and fresh and proved to be the best value for one’s money. While one may expect to find a remarkably unique dish, they would soon find that their best purchase to be this staple dip.
The festival wasn’t only for foodies: it featured live music on four stages, a children’s block with arts and crafts, and a commercial venue with vendors from local businesses as well as organizations looking to fundraise. People from all walks of life filled downtown Carpinteria. Whether people were in the market for homemade jewelry or interested in testing their avocado juggling skills, the festival included something for everyone.
AvoFest is as much as a festival for the community as it is about avocados. In prior years, participating non-profits and service organizations generated over $80,000 returned to the community.
Local businesses, clubs and school organizations use this festival to fundraise for their causes. Even 100 percent of the tips from beer booths go into a scholarship fund to benefit Carpinteria high school students. Supporting local small businesses or helping the fundraising efforts of a high school club were just some of the small ways that one found that the avocado festival was as much as a heartwarming communal event as it was a fun one.
Eating an avocado treat in a small beach-side Californian town is something so storybook and so stereotypically southern-Californian that the festival is worth the visit. Even if one is miffed by the lime-green vanilla-tasting ice cream, they can at least know that their money is going towards the community and a good cause.