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Mountain Mandarin Festival celebrates Placer Co. harvest weekend before Thanksgiving



AUBURN, CALIF.–Seventeen years ago a handful of South Placer County mandarin growers gathered for the first Mountain Mandarin Festival in Newcastle, Calif. The little festival quickly outgrew the small town square and now has taken over the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, a couple of hours from Reno.

Now there are more than 75 Placer County mandarin growers, and more than 35,000 visitors–including many from Northern Nevada–will flock to the festival this year. The annual Mountain Mandarin Festival celebrates the new crop of delicious, locally grown mandarin oranges, a mandarin recipe cooking contest, professional chef demonstrations, food, AGROart competition and crafts and activities featuring the mandarin orange. Fifteen to twenty Placer County growers will sell thousands of pounds of fresh mandarin oranges and gift baskets accompanied by all the free samples you like.

A free children’s area, live music and entertainment make this an all-day destination.

The SaveMart Cooking stage is another favorite stop for sumptuous samples with demonstrations by professional chefs and the annual Kitchen Craft Make It With Mandarins recipe contest with more than $2,500 in prizes.

The festival is held under the large, old trees of the Gold Country Fairgrounds, and their autumn golds, rusts and burgundies are punctuated with the bright orange globes of mandarins everywhere you turn. The tangy scent of citrus is in the air as visitors discover chocolate-covered fresh mandarins, mandarin gelato, chicken wings, pizza, pulled pork or take-home mandarin BBQ sauces, syrups, dressings and dozens of other mandarin-inspired concoctions.

More than 225 vendors of quality gift items also sell mandarin-scented lotions, soaps and candles, along with artist-crafted jewelry, home accessories and holiday items. Live mandarin trees and other citrus are available, along with advice from citrus experts.

Even though the festival outgrew the town square of Newcastle years ago, it is still presented by the Newcastle Area Business Association. Proceeds support the NABA scholarship program with four $1,000 scholarships awarded in 2009. Fifteen community groups benefited from the festival, as well as the Newcastle Volunteer 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.

17th Annual Mountain Mandarin Festival
November 19, 20 and 21
Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn, Calif.

Hours: Friday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: $6; Seniors $4; age 12 and under free
Watch for offers via FaceBook and Twitter
Parking $5; some street parking available

Additional information: 916-663-1918 or www.mandarinfestival.com

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