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Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival goes back to its roots
Chamber announces plans to move festival back to spring
Hughson festival
Diane Younker enabled grandson Isaiah Kelly to get closer to an alpaca in the Hughson 4-H petting zoo corral during the 2014 Hughson Harvest Festival. - photo by Journal file photo

Although the Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival will once again assume its original name—after being called the Hughson Harvest Festival for the past four years—its underlying purpose will remain the same.   

“This event means a lot for our farmers,” said Allison Riggs of the Hughson Chamber of Commerce. “Agriculture is a big thing, especially with the drought which is very hard for them. This event recognizes the farmers in our area.”

The Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival was established in 1988 to raise money for the town’s community center. After running for about 20 years, the chamber and the festival dissolved.

The community brought the festival back approximately five years ago under the name Hughson Harvest Festival with the same goal to raise money for the community. However, this is the first year that the event will once again be called the Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival, as requested by community members.

“The Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival was a big deal over here in Hughson and when it closed they decided to change the name to the Hughson Harvest Festival, which I don’t think people related to,” said Riggs. “I have had people come up and tell me that they are so happy that the Fruit and Nut Festival is back because they didn't think it was around since it was called the Harvest Festival.”

Riggs said that this year’s name reversion is not the only change due for the annual festival, as the Chamber announced its intention to move the date of the festival back to springtime after this upcoming event. The festival was previously held in the springtime when it first kicked off nearly 30 years ago, according to Riggs.

“The farmers really like it at that time and they are the main reason we have the festival,” said Riggs, “but in September they can’t participate because they are too busy. We want to move it back to when it was a long time ago.”

Over the course of two days, the festival will feature free samples of fruit from Bella Viva Orchards and Cipponeri Family Farms at the Taste of Central Valley’s Agriculture Booth. Nearly 20 food booths with options ranging from pizza to chocolate covered treats, arts and crafts, a free make-your-own ice cream booth, petting zoo, farm equipment show and FFA Kiddie Tractor Pull will also be available at the festival.

A new addition to this year’s festival is The Barrel Room, which will feature five different craft beers, including one made from Sandude Brewing Company in Turlock, and three different wines, including one made from Ceres-based Bronco Wine Company.

“We added The Barrel Room this year in hopes that we can bring something new to the festival,” said Riggs.

The festival will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday with an opening ceremony and performance by the Hughson High School Jazz band at the main stage.  Throughout the day there will be a chili cook off, classic car show featuring over 100 cars, Hughson Historical Society open house, Fantazia STARFIRE Dance at the main stage, and musical performance by Big Earl and the Cryin’ Shame.

On Sunday, there will be a Hughson United Soccer Pancake Breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Hughson Community Center. Festival-goers will also be given the opportunity to raise money for their favorite charity during the Walk 4 Love walk-a-thon, which raises over $40,000 every year.

Charities included in this year’s event are Ciara Circle, Danielle’s Gift, United Samaritans Foundation, Hughson Family Resource Center, Hughson 4-H, Hughson Key Club, Camp Taylor, Jessica’s House, Monkey Business, and the Stanislaus County Education Foundation.

“I think anytime that you can bring the community together, only good can come of it,” said committee member Christina Staack. “All of these are great local charities and groups that do so much good in our own backyard and community.”

The last day of the festival will also include a performance by Greg Scudder and the BEER: 30, Adamantine Belly Dancers, and a fireman’s muster, which will pit several different fire departments together to see who can transfer a the most amount of water from one container to another without spilling.

“They will be doing a dry muster this year instead of using water because of the drought,” said Riggs. “It is really fun to watch to see who can do it the fastest.”

There will also be plenty for kids to do at this year’s festival with a Kidz Zone that includes face painting, games, prizes, inflatable adventures and zippy pets. This year, the zone will also welcome a mechanical bull ride, dunk tank and water activities.

Last year, over 13,000 people attended the two-day family friendly event.  This year, Riggs said that the festival hopes to attract even more.

The Hughson Fruit and Nut Festival is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Hughson United Soccer Pancake Breakfast is from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Hughson Community Center and the Walk 4 Love walk-a-thon is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hughson High School track on Sunday.

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