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Independent Voice

Almond Blossoms Signal Spring

Feb 28, 2024 12:01PM ● By Debra Dingman, photos by Debra Dingman

The road less travelled brought acres of beautiful almond blossoms in the Capay Valley.

DIXON, CA (MPG) - The 109th annual Almond Festival was this past weekend and like the Dixon May Fair, brings together generations of family and friends to enjoy the rich agricultural history of northern California. It is also the only 6-town event known in the state.

Almonds are a very valuable crop, with California being the only place in North America that grows commercially. It is a $2 billion industry with over 6,000 growers working an estimated 530,000 acres. It is the largest tree crop in California, according to the Esparto Regional Chamber of Commerce.

We started toward Esparto after early church in Dixon and we were so glad we did that as we didn’t have traffic going or coming thanks to the timing.

Esparto featured a car show for kings with blocks of unique and colorful creations on four wheels like this green one - even a souped-up fire truck.

We got a great parking place right near the entrance of the huge FFA Breakfast where one could order the traditional pancakes, eggs, and two succulent sausages or you could order a custom omelet. The tables were donned in blue and yellow covers and FFA students wandered around to help serve coffee or juice and clean up when you were done. All proceeds benefited the Future Farmers of America at Esparto High School.

Walking through the few blocks of downtown, there were classic cars of every make and model lining the streets on both sides and in every lot available—so were the motorcycles that started pouring in about 11.

I had just enough time to peruse the many booths in the downtown park where I discovered one booth making necklaces and bracelets with people’s names by bending wires into scrolling cursive letters. They offered it in silver or gold for $30 and $5 additional if you wanted a small birthstone attached. I just happened to have two daughters with birthdays very soon and there were the perfect gifts for them. For the 20 minutes it took the man to make, we admired more cars then headed out for our next stops: Capay, Brooks, Guinda, and finally Rumsey.

Art, auction, barbecue, and oven-baked pizza were part of the stop in Rumsey.

The drive through the countryside was peaceful with bright green hills and lines of barely pink almond blossoms.

In Capay, the Road Trip Bar and Grill offered live music all day and the motorcyclists knew it. There were hundreds with more on their way, but it seemed the restaurant was ready for the extravaganza.

We drove through Brooks only because the Deka Hills was all about olives, and we are not so onto Guinda and its popular Fire Station with grilled oysters. We were anxious to get to Rumsey where we enjoyed the barbecue a couple years ago plus the craft and bake sales in the tiny church where we bought goodies. This year I tried a walnut bar that was so moist and flavorful I wish it could have lasted for days. I also got to meet the Almond Festival Queen and her court.

The items for auction included a fishing trip and a wine tasting tour and knowing one did not have to be present to win, was a draw for all and helped fund the event.

It was so fun to recognize some Dixonites while out in the brilliant sun: Bill and Susan Motley had also made the trek. It’s funny how when you know Dixonites, you can spot them from afar and we had happy smiles and visits about where to go and what to check out.

We stopped to take pictures of the luscious green rolling hills on the way back and caught the buzzing sound of honeybees flitting from blossom to blossom.

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is the tribe that operates Cache Creek Casino Resort and its nationally acclaimed golf course that looks over the gorgeous almond tree orchards and majestic mountains. I’m thinking next year this would be a place to spend the night so we could soak in all of nature’s beauty without rush…or sounds of roaring motorcycles.