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NEWCASTLE, CALIF.–It’s the little festival that grew–and grew, and grew. It has been 16 years since Mountain Mandarin Festival started in Newcastle, when there were just a few mandarin orange groves in Placer County. Now there are more than 65 growers, and more than 35,000 visitors flock to the festival each year.
The festival is held under the autumn-leaved trees of the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, and their golds, rusts and burgundies are punctuated with the bright orange globes of mandarins everywhere you turn. It’s fitting that this kaleidoscope of colors will be honored this year with a hands-on exhibit of handmade kaleidoscopes. More than 25 scopes will explode their colors into thousands of intricate designs that are a delight to all ages.
The 16th annual Mountain Mandarin Festival, Nov. 20-22, celebrates the new crop of delicious, locally grown mandarin oranges; a mandarin recipe cooking contest; professional chef demonstrations; food, crafts and activities featuring the mandarin orange; free children’s area; and live music and entertainment.
Twenty Placer County growers will sell thousands of pounds of fresh mandarin oranges, and more than 200 vendors will be on hand with quality hand-crafted gifts, home decor, gourmet food and art ready for holiday shopping. You can even purchase your own mandarin orange tree.
Try chocolate-covered fresh mandarins; mandarin gelato, smoothies, chicken wings and pizza; mandarin glazed almonds; mandarin fudge; mandarin olive oil, syrups, dressings, BBQ sauces and marinades; and dozens of other mandarin orange-inspired concoctions, including a creative menu of mandarin libations.
Even though the festival outgrew the town square of Newcastle years ago and is held at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn now, it is still presented by the Newcastle Area Business Association (NABA). Proceeds support the NABA scholarship program and community projects as well as the Newcastle Fire Department, which will be manning the admission gates.
Follow the Mandarin Festival on FaceBook and Twitter for special discount offers. Learn more at www.MandarinFestival.com.
Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn, Calif.
Preview Friday Noon–5, admission $2, age 16 and over
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission $5, age 16 and over; seniors $3
Discount coupons available on Web site
Parking $5; some street parking available
More information: 916-663-1918 or www.mandarinfestival.com
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