Festival fun for February


There may be a chill in the air, but with Valentine’s Day and a three-day President’s Day weekend on the calendar, February is anything but boring.

Here are a few fun options for festive fun in February.

Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival

Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Milt Brandt Visitors Center, 3333 Skaggs Springs Road, Geyserville. Info: lakesonoma.org/support-lake-sonoma/lake-sonoma-steelhead-festival.

Celebrate the return of the Steelhead Trout at Lake Sonoma at the family-friendly Steelhead Festival. Fun activities include food, beer, wine, archery, fishing, tours, demonstrations and live music from The Blue Rock Band.

San Francisco Tulipmania Tulip Festival

Feb. 9-18

Location: Pier 39, Beach Street & The Embarcadero

San Francisco. Info: pier39.com.

Tulipmania is a free event showcasing the vibrant color of tulips filling planters throughout the area. Apricot Beauties, Texas Flames, Purple Princes, Flaming Parrots, Swan Wings and Burgundy Lace are types of tulips you’ll want to photograph during this colorful event. Free guided tours begin at 10 a.m. daily.

Kernville Whiskey Flat Days Festival

Feb. 15-18 Noon-5 p.m.

“Whiskey Flat Encampment” located on Scodie Avenue across from the Rodeo Grounds (11447 Kernville Road, Kernville).

Info: gotokernville.com

The 62nd annual Whiskey Flat Days “Boots, Chaps and Cowboy Hats” is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Santa Clarita Valley, (50 miles east of Bakersfield on Hwy 178). The event features a parade, live music, carnival rides, games, Wild West Daze Rodeo, gun fights, frog jumping contest, melodrama, line dancing, pet parade, food and craft booths, Old West Encampment and Kawaiisu Indian Village. Most events are free. The parade will be held at 10 a.m., Feb. 16 in downtown Kernville and includes mules, gunfighter entries and all things containing the Old West theme.

The Kawaiisu Indian Village is a living history event with authentic crafts, Native American hand games, Native American food, demonstration on basket making, beading, regalia making and other items. Activities include archery, flutes, painting, drumming, singing and dancing.

In addition, experience early California history at the Mountain Man Camp, Cowboy and Mining Town and Civil War Camp. Authentic demonstrations of life in the Old West include: gunfights and history, Wells Fargo Station and Eatery, “cowboy cook’n,” horse trader and livery, “horse shoe’n” and “horse doctor’n,” Whiskey Flats Saloon, justice of the peace, saddle maker and leather craft, bath house, beautifier and hygienist and story tellers of the Wild West.

National Date Festival and Riverside County Fair

Feb. 15-24

Riverside County Fairgrounds, 82-503 Hwy 111, Indio. Info: (800) 811-FAIR, datefest.org.

The Indio Date Festival and Riverside County Fair “dates” back to 1921. The event celebrates the desert’s favorite crop, dates. Other attractions: Llamas, dairy goats, poultry; camel and ostrich races; WGAS Motorsports Monster Trucks, concerts, contests, games, food and a carnival with midway action.

A President’s Day Parade will be held 9 a.m., Feb. 18.

Opening Ceremony and Blessing of the Dates at 9:30 a.m., Feb. 15.

Daily attractions: Hedrick’s Camel and Ostrich Races, Salute to America 6 p.m., Arabian Nights Pageant 6:30 p.m., Amateur Date Recipe Contest 2 p.m., Cooking with Dates, Humpz & Hornz Bull Riding 5 p.m.

Long Beach Queen Mary Scots Festival and International Highland Games XXVI

Feb. 16-17, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

For information, call the Queen Mary at (562) 499-1771 or visit queenmary.com.  Tickets are available online and by phone

$25. The majestic Queen Mary was “born” on the banks of the River Clyde in Clydebank, Scotland and launched on Sept. 26, 1934. She was the flagship of the Cunard and White Star Lines, built by John Brown & Company. She sailed on her maiden voyage to New York on May, 27, 1936. In recognition of her Scottish heritage, the family-friendly Queen Mary Scottish Festival was established in 1993.

Daily festivities include Grand Parade of Clans and Bands with an Address to the Haggis, Border Collie sheep-herding, cannon and musket firing demonstrations, performances by the Scots Greys Calvary, Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Celtic Harp & Wren Iniquity Ensemble, historic re-enactments, professional and amateur competitions in piping, drumming, massed bands, darts, Highland dancing and Highland athletics.

Internationally acclaimed athletes compete for titles in stones, hammer throw, weights for distance, weight over bar, sheaf and the famed caber toss. The event also features whisky tasting sessions with aged malt experts and craft beer samplings, Queen Mary’s coronation, knighting ceremonies and Wee Highland games.

Complete your Scottish experience with the Robert Burns Supper (Scotland’s best-loved bard) with a traditional Burns Supper, including haggis, whisky, traditional Scottish music and dancing in the Queen’s Salon aboard the Queen Mary.

Palm Desert Greek Festival

Feb. 16-17, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 74-109 Larrea, Palm Desert. Info: Church office: (760) 568-9901 or pdgreekfest.org.

Directions: Just off El Paseo, behind the Wells Fargo Bank, where Lantana meets Larrea. Look for the Santorini island style, domed, white church, sky high balloons and Greek flags. Cost: $3 per adult and free to children 12 and younger.

The festival includes live Greek music, traditional folk dancers, authentic homemade foods, pastries, Greek beer and wine, vendors, church tours, Byzantine Iconography and a Kids Zone.

Set up in in themed areas, the village center Plaka, the lawn Taverna courtyard and other areas offer opportunity to dine, shop, stroll and dance to the music.

Food includes: Paidakia, country-style lamb chops, (St. George Signature Dish), Taverna-style Mezedes appetizers, Greek Salads, Greek Fries with hot Greek seasonings, Feta cheese and olives, Spanakopita (fillo layered with rich cheeses and fresh spinach), Spanokopita Pastitsio (baked macaroni w/ beef filling and Romano cheese, topped with béchamel), Tyropita (triangular shaped cheese filled pastry puff), gyros, flaming Saganaki Cheese (flamed with brandy and quenched with fresh, tart lemon juice) and Loukoumades (puffs of hot pastry drenched in cinnamon and sugar).

Ripon Almond Blossom Festival

Feb. 22-24

Mistlin Sports Park, 1201 River Road, Ripon (Stockton-adjacent).

Info: www.riponchamber.org.

The 57th annual Almond Blossom Festival is a quaint hometown celebration of all things almond. The almond, which is the crop by which the Ripon region is identified today, were introduced near Ripon on a trial basis about 1900 by J. P. Watkins.  

The Ripon Almond Blossom Festival includes a parade which circles historic Ripon (Main Street-4th Street) and a festival which includes food, crafts booths and a carnival. The city of Ripon in the middle of California’s central San Joaquin Valley claimed a population of just over 14,000 in the 2010 census. It calls itself “The Jewel of The Valley.”

Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off

Feb. 23-24 1 p.m. public tastings begin on both days.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk, 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz. Info: beachboardwalk.com/Clam-Chowder-Cook-Off

The festival features amateur and professional chefs preparing their finest clam chowder recipes along the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Teams compete in the friendly competition, hoping to win prizes and bragging rights for “Best Clam Chowder” in the country’s largest and longest-running clam chowder competition. Amateur chefs will compete on Saturday, followed by professional chefs on Sunday.

The Boardwalk is admission free. Clam chowder tasting kits can be purchased for $10 each. Each Tasting Kit includes six taste tickets, spoon, cup and a People’s Choice ballot. All tasting kit sales benefit Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation.

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