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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 4:58 pm | Partly Cloudy 55º

 
 
 
 
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The Lemon Festival: A Strong Tradition with a Neighborhood Feel

{mosimage}Despite dusty Santa Ana winds, crowds turned up for the annual California Lemon Festival in Goleta.

{mosimage}Every year in October, lemon pies, bouncing kids, crafts vendors, classic cars and Safety Street make their way out to Girsh Park in Goleta for the annual California Lemon Festival.

While not as big or as flashy as other fairs and festivals on the South Coast, the Lemon Festival has become a tradition in the area and certainly has its share of regulars: vendors displaying their wares, visitors checking out the scene and local neighbors taking time out to be with friends and family.

“I’ve been doing this (festival) ever since it started ... That’s 16 years,” said Mel, owner of Shady Hut Hats. If you’ve been to the festival, you’ve probably seen his booth, lined with shelves and shelves of hats. A pro of the “California produce-related fair” circuit, Mel (who didn’t feel like giving his surname), has put the Lemon Festival on his regular schedule.

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Mel’s in good company: Other Lemon Festival staples, like the Girls Inc. 5K Run, Safety Street and the Goleta Fall Classic Car, Street Rod & Motorcycle Show came through this year as well.

Other festival regulars, meanwhile, haven’t even been around that long. Local kid Natalie Ardouin bounced higher and higher along with three other youngsters each strapped to a bungee/trampoline setup in the kids’ activities area of the festival.

“How do I do a backflip?” she called down to the man minding the jumpers. After a few attempts, she executed a perfect backflip to the cheers of her dad, Mike.

{mosimage}Over at the food booths, vendors proved that lemonade goes well with everything: falafels, Thai barbecue, roasted almonds, burritos, fish and chips. Visitors not lucky enough to shove their faces into a lemon cream pie by Anna’s Bakery for the fabled Pie Eating Contest found contentment in shoving Bacara’s lemon tarts into their faces instead.

And at the stage, a steady stream of performers entertained the enthusiastic audience with Irish jigs, Spanish dances, vocal jazz and karate demonstrations.

Spotted: Former Goleta City Council Member Margaret Connell, current Goleta City Council Member Eric Onnen, local emergency response heroes and Dora the Explorer.

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