Locals were anything but sour this weekend, as the Goleta Chamber of Commerce hosted its 14th annual Lemon Festival.
The event, which occurred Oct. 15 and 16 in Girsh Park, commemorated Goleta’s long history of lemon production, which began in the 1890s. The free festival featured approximately 3o booths by local businesses and sponsors, such as Cox Communications and Ralph’s Supermarket. Over the weekend, the event provided free live entertainment, a pie eating contest, a petting zoo as well as rides and games for all ages, Committee chair for the Goleta Chamber of Commerce Patricia Fabing said.
“The festival is a great way for Goletans to celebrate our history and get together to party,” Fabing said. “We’ve got great vendors and great entertainment. This could be the best lemon festival ever.”
This year’s festival also included a 5K run, organized by Girls Inc. — a nonprofit youth group for adolescent girls — a car show featuring classic cars and hot rods and a performance by Beatles-tribute band Imagine on Saturday night. Representatives from the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept., the Police Dept. and other county agencies hosted a “Safety Street,” where children received demonstrations about law enforcement and safety and were allowed to sit inside fire trucks and helicopters.
“Safety Street” gives local children the opportunity to look at the state-of-the-art technologies used by local emergency personnel, said John Fehr, the Chief Pilot for the Santa Barbara County Air Support — the airborne division of the county fire department. He said he thinks “Safety Street” was very successful this year.
“It’s a very beneficial event, and I’m happy to play a small part in making it a more successful event,” Fehr said. “Hopefully next year we can play a bigger role.” According to the Chamber of Commerce’s website, Santa Barbara County’s year-round spring-like temperatures provide an ideal climate to grow lemons. The website said Sherman Stow planted the first successful lemon grove, which began at 600 acres, in the 1890s. By the 1930s, despite economic tolls of the depression, the lemon industry in Goleta was booming. In the 1950s and 1960s, much of Goleta’s farmland was turned into housing. However, the website said, Goleta is still remembered for its lemons.