Residents from all over Santa Barbara County added some zest to their weekend when they attended the 16th annual California Lemon Festival, which featured carnival rides, a car show and characters from “Dora the Explorer.”

Sponsored by the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the festival in Girsh Park celebrates the history of the Goleta lemon orchards and offers plenty of lemon-flavored food. According to the festival’s Web site, many of the orchards were planted in the 1890s and later sold during the housing boom in the 1950s.

Santa Barbara resident Thomas Emch said that he returns annually for the festival’s treats.

“We come every year for the lemon ice cream,” Emch said.

At the festival, passersby browsed through arts and crafts booths featuring Guatemalan accessories, landscape paintings, handcrafted jewelry, sunglasses and T-shirts. Meanwhile, local businesses and clubs sold lemon-flavored goods, including beer, cotton candy and ice cream.

First-time Lemon Festival vendor Teresa Selley said she came to promote her Italian-made lemon liqueur, Limonciello.

“It’s been made for generations by my family in Italy,” Selley said. “It’s served chilled in a shot glass. We’ll have it in bars and restaurants in Santa Barbara and Goleta starting early next year.”

Additionally, the event offered family entertainment, with a rock wall, carnival games and several park rides. UCSB writing program lecturer Madeleine Sorapure said the festival was a great place to spend time with her daughter.

“I like bringing her to the petting zoo, especially in beautiful weather like this,” Sorapure said.

The festival also included “Safety Street,” an educational show produced by the county’s fire, police and sheriff’s departments. At the show, the departments also displayed their fire trucks, ambulances and helicopters. Firefighter Barry Pabst said that the Lemon Festival was a great way to educate and reach out to a large part of the community.

“I’m here to remind people to be safe with fire,” Pabst said. “Don’t play with it – cook with it.”

Various festival-goers said they felt the event was entertaining and successful. Santa Barbara resident Bob Samuels said he felt the festival succeeded in uniting the community in celebration of local heritage.

“I feel as though I’m reconnecting with my inner lemon,” Samuels said. “They are bringing the lemon back.”

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