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Olive Festival celebrates city's mascot
There was something for everyone and anyone to enjoy during the 23rd annual Olive Festival, which culminated on Saturday at Woodson City Park with day-long activities.
The festival's fun began earlier in August with the crowning of 2012 Miss Corning Catlin Ochs, followed by the Missing Olive Contest giving Corning's Sherlockians a chance to sleuth the city. This year's winners, Shelly and Monica White, found the hidden wooden olive in record time awarding them $150.
For those who needed a cooling off, the Water Festival at the city's Northside Park pool was the perfect place to be on Aug. 22, where diving contests and racing after wet and bobbing watermelons was the answer to relieving the heat.
Bell-Carter Foods' Olive Festival Mixer provided sumptuous olive-themed refreshments, catered by Dian Ryder, and a place to rub shoulders with some of Corning's finest.
Friday's Olive Festival Parade, although short this year, was the perfect lead-in to the Corning Does It Bedder - Bed Races. Extra fun was had this year with the addition of the "youth division" of the races, which was a great crowd-pleaser. And where else but Corning do you find people racing beds down the city's main avenue, changing clothes in the middle of the race, as the crowds cheered on the winning teams - which this year was Harvest Christian Center and Safeway.
The parade winners were Corning Senior Center for Best Float, Best Vehicle was Tehama County and Chico Shrine Club mini cars, Corning Volunteer Fire Department won Best Miscellaneous entry, Corning Cardinal Marching Band earned Best Marching Unit, and Olive City Rancheros received Best Senior Equestrian.
"Come Saturday the weather was perfect to welcome visitors to Woodson City Park," said Chamber of Commerce Manager Valanne Cardenas.
As people arrived at the park they were welcomed by the live tunes of Roy Dyer and the Bigguns band, craft booths, food booths, and everything olive, including ice cream laden with lemon olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegars served at the Chamber of Commerce booth.
"Try this," says Chamber Director Tony Cardenas to the Doubting Thomases. "You'll like it."
And lo-and-behold the vast majority of people did.
"Wow, this is really good," said Rotarian Steve Kimbrough, as he sampled the Loganberry Balsamic Vinegar variety.
Cardenas was busy serving samples all day once people got a taste of the delicacy.
The Rotary Interact booth was busy as well as youths served root beer floats to visitors.
Scattered throughout the park were vendors of area olive product companies providing tidbits of just about everything and anything olive - table olives, Sicilian olives, olives stuffed with almonds, habaneros, garlic, cheese and so on, olive oils of varying tastes and varieties, olive relishes, olives enhanced cheeses, you name it they had it. There was even a large wooden carved bear holding up an "Olive Juices" sign. Now that is everything olive.
The Exchange Club had its tried-and-true tri-tip sandwich booth that was kept so busy throughout the day, the club ran out of food before they ran out of customers.
But one of the truly unexpected delights of the event came from the festival's Talent Show stage when Andrea Brown, of Rancho Tehama and blind since birth, took the microphone and began singing "At Last." Her talent was mesmerizing and earned her not one, not two, but three rounds of applause from the appreciative audience.
Other talents including gymnastics, a rock band, two girls playing clarinets, and singing and dancing.
The trackless train giving rides around the park was in motion and filled to capacity all day, and decorated faces of young and old and every age in between were seen leaving the face-painting booth all day as well.
There was a jumping castle for youngsters, along with games and other activities.
"We didn't have as many vendors as in years past," said Valanne Cardenas, "but what we did have was quality, all of the booths were of good quality."
Cardenas said one reason for less vendors and less visitors was the wildfires burning in the north state.
Both of the Dutch Oven Cook Off contestants felt the same way.
"There was originally six contestants signed up," said Bill Baugh of Redding. "But due to the fires, the economy and poor health, four of them had to drop out."
Baugh and his competition, Ron Judson of Red Bluff, of course won first and second place in the competition.
Grand Prize winner of the Olive Recipe Contest was Sharon Searcy, with first place going to 15-year-old Wyatt Haywood, and second prize earned by Nancy Enos.
"This is Wyatt's third time to enter the contest," said his mom Rhonda Haywood. "He loves to cook."
Haywood's winning olive-based food was deep fried, battered, cheese-stuffed olives.
One of the food judges this year was Sen. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale.
"This is one of my favorite opportunities to be in Corning," he said.
For the first time ever, the festival hosted a Spaghetti Eating Contest, challenging participants to eat 3.5 pounds of cooked spaghetti covered with a tomato and olive sauce. The happy, but extremely full winner was Timothy Skaggs.
One of the final events of the day was the Corning Rotary Club's Olive Drop. The brave rotarian to scale the Corning Fire Department's extended engine truck ladder was Ginny Barrett, who dropped hundreds of olives onto a bull's eye on the ground. Each numbered olive had been "purchased" by people in the community and the closer an olive came to the center of the bull's eye, the greater the purchaser had of winning money.
Not far from the park, at Maywood School, REMAX American Dreams Realty had its hot-air balloon up and floating for the festival, giving rides at $5 a head from 8 to 10 a.m.
"We had a really good turnout," said REMAX Realtor Scott Davis. "People enjoyed the opportunity."
Valanne Cardenas said the winner of this year's Chamber raffle top prize, a bistro set, was Deb Taylor of Bell-Carter Foods.
The Olive Festival is organized by the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and sponsored by businesses throughout the area.