The city of Ripon welcomes an influx of visitors from across the state over the four days of the Almond Blossom Festival each year. With anywhere between 30,000 and 40,000 festivalgoers, it is a great way to kick off the spring season. But for lifelong Ripon residents, it is about more than the $5 billion-dollar California almond industry or drawing crowds to Ripon. Over the past 58 years, the Almond Blossom Festival has become a deep-rooted part of Ripon’s identity
“The goal of the festival is to bring the community together for a series of family friendly activities,” says Kelly Donohue, President and CEO of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. “This is a chance for local businesses, community members, service organizations, police department, fire department, and city government [and] employees to collaborate together to enrich the community.”
Community groups work together to host spaghetti dinners, pancake breakfasts, and bake sales and enjoy the carnival, antique tractor show, and community parade—all traditions linked to the festival. “The Almond Blossom Festival is Ripon,” Kelly says. “It embodies the love we all have for this community.” Some of the most popular events date all the way back to the first years of the festival, such as Miss Almond Blossom/Miss Ripon. Less of a beauty contest and more a way to encourage community involvement, the contestants have a full schedule of community events to attend leading up to the coronation on Thursday, February 20. They also learn about the history of Ripon and gain public speaking and leadership skills.
Another time-tested tradition is the Diaper Derby, hosted by the Mom’s Club of Ripon-Salida. According to Kelly, it’s not uncommon for locals to brag about winning years later as adults.
This year’s theme, “Celebrating 75 Years of Service to the Community,” was chosen in honor of the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of Ripon and, as always, pays homage to the agricultural roots of Ripon, situated in the heart of California’s almond growing region.
ABF Don’t Miss List
Feb 20 @ 5 PM: Carnival opens with $1 ride night
Feb 20 @ 7 PM: Miss Ripon Coronation
Feb 21 @ 9 AM: Craft & Bake Sale
Feb 21 @ 3 PM: Festival vendors are open for business
Feb 22 @ 8 AM: Fun Run
Feb 22 @ 10 AM: Diaper Derby
Feb 22 @ 1 PM: Parade
Feb 23 @ 5 PM: Festival vendors and carnival close