For the second year in a row uncontrollable circumstances have affected the attendance at the Asparagus Festival. A severe rain storm caused an early closure to the festival on Friday, but sunny days Saturday and Sunday saw brisk attendance for the remainder of the three-day event. This year’s event attracted 55,025 visitors which is down from last year’s attendance of 75,237 resulting in a 24.2% decrease.
Still to come are the final revenue tally and the annual allocation of proceeds to San Joaquin County charities. Last year, the festival distributed $63,550 to more than 100 nonprofit organizations. More than $5.9 million has been given to participating charities since the Asparagus Festival started in 1986.
Despite the dampening effects of rain, “spear-its” were high for festival-goers who enjoyed great food, great entertainment, and enough other events and sights to fill a day. A highlight on Saturday was the Deep Fried Asparagus Eating Competition where world-record eater Joey Chestnut regained his asparagus eating crown breaking his previous record of 9 lbs. 5 oz. by eating an incredible 12 lbs. 8.75 oz. On Sunday, over 500 runners braved an early morning drizzle to run 1-mile, 5K, and 5-mile races. That afternoon, it was standing room only at the Weber Point Main Stage for the performance by War.
Asparagus dishes were as popular as ever with 29,000 orders of deep fried asparagus served, over 7,000 scoops of asparagus ice cream, plus thousands of servings of asparagus & beef sandwiches, asparagus pasta, and asparagus burritos, with a grand total of 45,150 dishes served. Some 8,500 pounds of fresh asparagus was donated to the Emergency Food Bank, following the festival’s on-going mission of giving back to the community.
Our 2015 event will be celebrating our 30th anniversary which is scheduled for April 24-26. Although planning for next year has already begun, it begins in earnest in August. Booth applications for 2015 go online mid-September.