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Ojai Valley Lavender Festival Marks Rebirth After Devastating Fires

Lavender Fest will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 30, in Ojai’s Libbey Park.
Lavender Fest will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 30, in Ojai’s Libbey Park. (Christel Rogero)

While several of Ojai’s lavender farms suffered damage and loss in recent fires, purple fields of lavender are reclaiming their season, and that is reason to celebrate.

In its 15th consecutive year, the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival (OVLF) will honor local blooms 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 30, in Libbey Park amidst an array of art, music, food, games, prizes, raffles, speakers, vendors and lovely Ojai lavender.

The park will host 116 vendors including five lavender farms: Central Coast Lavender Farm, Ojai Dirt Candy, Ojai Lavender Farms, Rivendell Aromatics, and St. Barbara’s Orthodox Monastery will offer live plants, fresh and dried bouquets, wreaths, sachets, and lavender products like soaps, lotions, oils, and more.

Frog Creek Lavender Farm, will offer U-pick tours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at its Upper Ojai farm on festival day and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Lavender Sunday, July 1, with a talk on lavender-growing and a lavender wand-making workshop 11 a.m.-noon. Visit www.frogcreekojai.com.

The festival’s music tableau will include songwriter Eliya Frantz at 10:15 a.m. and Lynn Mullins with his new band Coyote Creek at 10:45 a.m.

Returning favorites will be Richard Kaller, 10 a.m.; Cindy Kalmenson & The Lucky Ducks, noon; Smitty and Julija, 1:15 p.m.; Ventucky String Band, 2:30 p.m.; and The Jon Gindick Band, 3:45 p.m. Smitty West will emcee, and engineer Roger Phelps of SoundNEyes will mix.

Featured speaker ecological landscaper Laura Maher of Greywater Gardens will talk about How to Design, Build and Maintain a Greywater Irrigation System for Your Home Garden at noon.

Amanda Mullins, artist/musician turned health advocate/coach will discuss Make Your Favorite Foods Nutritious and Delicious at 2 p.m.

Despite losing a major portion of its campus to the Thomas Fire and being displaced to Bakersfield for many months, the women of Ventura Teen Challenge will return to the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival as they have for years to assist with and manage festival details.

They will bring back their food booth with hot lunch and lavender lemonade. Both Teen Challenge and OVLF will offer raffle baskets with high-value, handcrafted items, many donated by local merchants.

Money raised by both benefits their respective nonprofit activities, outreach and scholarships.

Twenty-six Ojai artists produced lavender-themed art pieces this year for the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival Art Contest. An exhibit is currently on display at the Ojai Coffee Roasting Company, 337 E. Ojai Ave.

A free cake and coffee reception will be held at the Ojai Coffee Roasting Company, 3-5 p.m. Sunday, June 24, 3-5 p.m. Attendees can view the art and learn which art pieces will win ribbons. The art moves to Libbey Park for display and sale in OVLF’s art tent on June 30.

The festival’s Passport Game returns with prizes donated by festival vendors.

Festival-goers will find activities and seven food trucks offering meals, drinks and snacks.

Food booths include Deer X-ing, Bites Gourmet Apples, Freezer Monkey, Kona Ice of Ventura, Metro Dogs, Paradise Italian Ice and Javacat trucks, Hansen Enterprises’ Aebleskivers, Lori’s Original Lemonade, Taffy Tyme, Ventura Teen Challenge and Yankee Doodle Bakery.

Other vendors will offer oils, vinegars, salts, food mixes, drink mixers, and pet supplies.

Park rules: no alcohol, smoking or pets. Due to parking difficulties downtown, festival-goers are urged to walk, ride bikes, take the trolley or catch a free shuttle.

OVLF offers free off-site parking at Live Oak Christian Fellowship Church, 441 Church Road. Purple signs will point the way; Chief Peak 4H members will direct parkers; and HELP of Ojai will provide free shuttle service to and from Libbey Park. The last bus leaves the park at 5 p.m.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Ojai Valley Lavender Festival Inc.'s mission is “to demonstrate and promote the many uses of lavender, to broaden public awareness and to educate potential growers/farmers about the benefits of plants that celebrate the Ojai Valley’s Mediterranean climate.”

OVLF does this by providing annual scholarships, honoring former Ojai resident and historian David Mason, to pursue agriculture and/or lavender-related education to valley residents.

OVLF also awards community grants; this year giving seven $1,000 awards to Ojai residents devastated by the Thomas Fire.

For more, visit www.ojaivalleylavenderfestival.org.

— Maureen Volland for Ojai Valley Lavender Festival.

 

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