The Little Miss Strawberry contestants excitedly primp their pink dresses and adjust their sparkling tiaras in anticipation of the pageant’s beginning. The lighthearted event—in which girls compete in five different age groupings—is one of many novel attractions at BerryFest. A Mother's Day–weekend tradition, the 2012 festival marks the year's harvest by bringing together local farmers with a host of vendors, sponsors, entertainment acts, and conciliatory deer families at the Placer County Fairgrounds.
Daytime revelers can indulge in a surplus of diverse, certified-organic berries, which can be purchased whole or in the form of inventive, strawberry-based eats such as strawberry pizza, strawberry barbecue sauce, or strawberry-flavored strawberries. The festival’s lineup of booths also includes a beer garden where Lost Coast Brewery whets patrons’ whistles with strawberry drafts. A no-hands shortcake-eating contest crowns the winner with a commemorative trophy and proceeds benefit the Boy Scouts of America. During a live cooking demonstration, TV star Michael Marks of Your Produce Man shares recipe tips as well as tips for catching runaway piecrusts. On Sunday, festival-goers can take in a car show with a gathering of shiny, classic wheels, and all weekend long, kids can kick it on the Fun Zone’s Berry-Go-Round or drop by the event’s on-site petting zoo.
Every year, on the weekend just before Thanksgiving, the Mountain Mandarin Festival unites crowds beneath the Gold Country Fairgrounds' autumn-leaved trees to celebrate fresh crops of mandarin oranges. Throughout the event, family-centered activities keep visitors of all ages entertained, including cooking contests, professional-chef demonstrations, and live musical performances. Also on hand, Placer County growers dole out thousands of pounds of fresh mandarin oranges, and more than 200 vendors showcase gifts ranging from lotions and candles to artist-crafted jewelry.
Launch unites eclectic artistic forms in a dance-infused celebratory atmosphere. Guests can irrigate ear canals with a variety of musical performances. Breakout musician Neon Indian tops the bill with infectious psychedelic pop, and turntablers such as DJ Sam I Jam will spin records in reverse to unlock instructions on how to perform the Macarena during emergencies. The runway fashion show will parade eye-catching apparel and catwalk dynamics cooked up by up-and-coming designers such as Van Der Neer, who custom crafts pieces from vintage fabrics. Along the hotel's corridors, guests connect with designers, photographers, and painters and search for Where's Waldo motifs in their displayed pieces.
Now celebrating its 17th anniversary, the Sacramento Art Festival continues to blossom as one of the country's top cultural jubilees with its periphery-stretching array of creations. This year's festival features 225 artists working a myriad of techniques, including painting, sculpting, ceramic making, printmaking, photographing, metalworking, stone crafting, and pyrokinetic blacksmithing. Forty-two painters display their works in oils, pastels, watercolors, and acrylics, while 25 ceramic artists unveil porcelain masterpieces. Meanwhile, 18 woodworkers whip out their exotic carvings, 12 sculptors find malleability in bronze, and 40 jewelers forge and fuse adornments. To boot, most of these artists are happy to share their tricks of the trade with attendees. The spirit of competition also adds to the glee of gawking, as all art is reviewed by a jury.
Throughout the day, art fans can feast on Restaurant Row's variety of Greek, Indian, and American grub while taking in the sounds of GG Amos Blues Bands and the Kurt Ribak Jazz Quartet. After eating, guests can watch the comedy jugglers and marvel at their ability to keep balls in the air without breaking any pottery.
Every summer, the paths of William Land Park come alive with all things banana for the annual Sacramento Banana Festival. Taking a look at the banana?s influence as a staple food in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, the festival incorporates activities that celebrate those cultures, including jazz and reggae music and international dance performances. One unique draw is the Power Soul Stroll 5K Run/Walk, and food lovers can munch on plantain chips, banana teacakes, or frozen bananas. There are also banana-themed art exhibits and an open-air marketplace, making it easy to find the right banana depiction for your home's kitchen or banana closet. To close out the day, watch kids mug for the audience in the banana pageant or spend some time walking down the banana bread path while tasting recipe samples and raising money for local organizations.
Each year, the SnowBomb Ski & Snowboard Festival steeps NorCal-powder addicts in gear, lift tickets, and mountain-ready swag, all offered for free or at discounted prices. Reps from area resorts such as Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Mammoth, and Bear Valley are on hand to dole out season passes and highlight their most recent facility improvements, such as faster lifts and more advanced yeti warning systems. Meanwhile, mountain outfitters such as Atomic and Burton show off this season's newest gear and winter sport shops such as Lombardi's, Ground Zero, and the Sports Basement offer discounts on repairs and equipment. Amid the flurry of excitement and demonstrations, local breweries and wineries pour their warming libations for festival goers schussing from booth to booth.