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Hello, Sunshine; Hello, Festivals

With this weekend’s Stockton Asparagus Festival, comes an entire season of festivals to celebrate the juicy eats grown on trees, the aromatic gifts from the field and the best music from the east to the west.

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Posted: Friday, April 27, 2012 7:45 am

Show me a field or orchard anywhere in the great San Joaquin Valley and I will show you a festival celebrating the flavors, history and region of whatever sweet or interesting crop is bursting from limbs and the ground.

As the essence of summer arrives with April, so does an overflow of one of the area’s favorite vegetables: Asparagus.

Celebrating the stalky spear is this weekend’s annual Stockton Asparagus Festival, complete with live music every day, games, family activities and food that incorporates asparagus —from asparagus ice cream to the star of Asparagus Alley, deep-fried asparagus.

The weekend will be filled with constant entertainment. If you don’t stop to watch Ballet Folklorico de Frank Zapata, Stockton Bukkyo Taiko, the eating competition or Tyson the Skateboarding Dog, you can catch a live show. The Weber Point Main Stage will feature performances by Rockin’ Down the Highway: Music of the Doobie Brothers and All-4-One on Friday; American Idol finalist Bucky Covington and Restless Heart on Saturday; and Average White Band and Tower of Power on Sunday.

It doesn’t matter why you love asparagus — whether it’s for its flavor or because it’s a reason for pre-summer fun — the Asparagus Festival is for the entire family.

The festival is in Downtown Stockton, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Sunday. For more information, visit www.asparagusfest.com.

Galt Strawberry Festival

May 19 and 20

They’re sweet. They’re juicy. They oh-so-pretty. And one of summer’s favorite fruits. Whether eaten fresh from the vine or in a decadent dessert, Galt celebrates the versatility of the strawberry with its annual Strawberry Festival.

In addition to sweet treats, there will be entertainment, including a performance by Whiskey Dawn, as well as entertainment by Cap City Stunt Team and a classic car and motorcycle show.

One of the biggest draws is the carnival, which means fun for everyone, strawberry- and thrill-lovers alike.

For more information about the Strawberry Festival, visit www.galtchamber.org.

Linden Cherry Festival

May 19

What has a queen, a pie-eating contest and free admission?

Answer: The Linden Cherry Festival, which takes place May 19 at Linden Elementary School. The festival is kicked off with an annual parade and then other festivities begin, including the presentation of the Linden Cherry Festival Queen and an annual baking contest. Don’t forget, delicious tree-ripened cherries are always there as the big crowd pleaser.

Oakdale Chocolate Festival

May 19 and 20

If there was ever an avenue to peruse, it would be Chocolate Avenue at the 20th Oakdale Chocolate Festival. Fudge. Truffles. Ice cream. Chocolate cheesecake. Can you handle it?

Cut the sweetness with giant onion rings, Lockeford sausages and more.

The Chocolate Festival also features entertainment by local performers and cover bands.

The Oakdale Chocolate Festival is May 19 and 20. Dogs on leashes are welcome.

For more information, visit www.oakdalechamber.com.

Sacramento Music Festival

May 25-28

The Sacramento Music Festival is known as one giant party. Why? Because Old Sacramento and surrounding venues beat with the sounds of jazz, swing, blues, zydeco, rockabilly, bluegrass, Latin music and more.

The weekend’s special events include a Saturday morning parade, swing dance party, family stage, jam sessions, Sunday gospel set, ragtime sets, Old Sacramento museums and a Memorial Day ceremony.

The Sacramento Music Festival is May 25 through 28. For information, visit www.sacjazz.com.

Isleton Cajun Festival

June 16-17

If visiting the sultry state of Louisiana doesn’t fit into your summer plans, get your fix of the Bayou at The Cajun Festival just down the road in Isleton. On Father’s Day weekend, experience the sounds of California Zydeco and Cajun bands, including Catfish & the Crawdaddies, Gator Beat, Tom Rigney & Flambeau, Zydeco Flames and Mumbo Gumbo. There will be two stages for dancing and hanging out on a hay bale.The Cajun Festival is June 16-17. For information, visit www.cajunfestivalisleton.com.

Obon Bazaar in Lodi

June 23 and 24

The Obon Bazaar is a Lodi tradition that allows locals and visitors to step into another culture. Hosted by the Lodi Buddhist church, the Obon Bazaar features good food and lots of entertainment. You can see Gagaku, a traditional Japanese orchestra and dancing, as well as Japanese vocalized poems, folk dance and more.

You’ll  be able to taste homemade favorites and traditional eats like shrimp and sushi.

Gilroy Garlic Festival

July 27-29

Just think about it. A festival dedicated entirely to garlic. Can you smell it? Garlic is in everything on that Gourmet Alley: Calamari, garlic bread, garlic fries, garlic chicken stir fry and so much more.

This is the festival that goes through 10 tons of beef, four tons of pasta, four tons of calamari and two tons of Christopher Ranch garlic.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is yearly at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy. This year’s event is July 27-29. For information, visit www.gilroygarlicfestival.com.

Lodi Grape Festival

Sept. 13-16

Have you ever seen the colorful fields of the Central Valley “painted” with grapes? Well, you will (and you’ll see more) at the Lodi Grape Festival Sept. 13 through 16.

This is one of Lodi’s biggest events, complete with a traditional midway, carnival games with prizes, wine celebrations, and food: from Lockeford sausage to funnel cakes and corn on the cob.

The Grape Festival is also a place to rock out, as there are live performances every single night.

Visit www.grapefestival.com.

Contact Lodi Living editor Lauren Nelson at laurenn@lodinews.com.

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