'Lettuce' entertain you!
Annual festival kicks off March 9th
About 25,000 visitors will learn about the roots of Yuma's agriculture industry during the 2013 Yuma Lettuce Days Festival March 9 and 10.
“This event celebrates the agriculture industry in the Yuma area,” said Susan Sternitzke of Limelight Creative Group, which is involved in organizing the festival.
“It is an opportunity to showcase the industry from the ground up, and it offers our agriculture leaders the opportunity to share their stories. The festival raises awareness that Yuma is the Winter Vegetable Capital of the World.”
The No. 1 question asked by visitors to the Yuma Visitor Information Center is about crops growing in the area, Sternitzke noted.
“This festival helps shed light on how it's grown, how the sophisticated irrigation system is designed, how immigration policies affect the industry, etc.”
The agriculture festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 9, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 10, at the Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, 201 N. 4th Ave.
Tickets are $5 per day and can be purchased in advance at the Yuma Visitor Information Center or by calling 800-293-0071. The first 500 guests to arrive each day will receive an “I love Yuma” bumper sticker.
The festival will combine locally grown ingredients, cooking demonstrations, interactive displays and programs, exhibitors, vendors and Yuma culture into a sophisticated, educational and entertaining weekend event, organizers stated.
In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to sample a variety of locally grown, freshly made food and beverages in an outdoor setting.
“This is the chance to ask local agriculture leaders about the industry and also the ideal festival to sample and learn about fresh produce,” Sternitzke said.
“Consumers want to know where their food is coming from, how to pick the freshest products, how to cook it, and the nutritional components. If the world would eat what Yuma is growing, we could solve some of the largest healthy epidemics. Eat your veggies!”
The culinary festival will include guest appearances by gourmet chefs such as Ben Ford and Ray Duey.
As a chef and restaurateur, Ford, the son of Harrison Ford is known not only for his creative techniques, but for celebrating the cycle of life and freshness of the earth through his choice and treatment of ingredients, organizers said.
That makes him a great match for Yuma, which during the winter months supplies more than 90 percent of the nation's leafy vegetables. In fact, Yuma County ranks third in the nation for vegetable production, and its annual agricultural output of more than $3.2 billion accounts for more than a third of the total production for the state of Arizona.
“We're excited to introduce Ben Ford to Yuma and to see what he will be inspired to create from our amazing agricultural bounty,” said Linda Jordan, executive director of Yuma Visitors Bureau, which organizes Lettuce Days.
“We know he brings a lot of energy to his appearances and will be a real crowd pleaser.”
Ford will perform live cooking demonstrations, and offer a taste of the food he creates to those in the audience at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Schedule of events
Saturday, March 9th...
9 a.m. to 10 a.m - Junior Jazzercise & Yuma Valley Jazzercise exercise on the entertainment stage, and a meet and greet with Bob & Sheri at 9:30 a.m. next to El Dorado Radio's 100.9 FM exhibit area.
9:30 to 10 a.m. - Medjool date cooking contest on the cooking stage.
10 to 11 a.m. - Yuma School District One's cooking demonstration. Gadsden Mariachi band on the entertainment stage.
11 a.m. to noon - Cooking demonstration by Headliner Chef Ben Ford from Ford's Filling Station
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - “Toss it Up” salad bar arena, $2 per person. This event benefits Yuma area FFA.
11:30 to 1 p.m. - Bobby McClendon's band performs on the entertainment stage.
12 to 1 p.m. - Cooking for Kids cooking challenge.
1 to 2 p.m. - Food Network challenge Winner Chef Ray Duey provides a vegetable carving demonstration on the cooking stage with a little help from Bob & Sheri.
1 to 4 p.m. - Yuma's Recipe Box tasting event. Local restaurants offer up their most tasty treats. Tickets are sold separately at $10 each. Includes food samples from over 10 local restaurants, beer & wine samples and live entertainment. Must be over 18 years to purchase a ticket. This events benefits the Western Growers Association's Yuma school gardens project.
1:15 to 2:15 p.m. - Old Time Fiddlers will perform on the entertainment stage.
2 to 3 p.m. - Chef Ben Ford will provide a cooking demonstration on cooking stage.
2:15 to 3:15 p.m. - Kamyla Ruiz, winner of the Yuma Sun's “Yuma Star” contest, will perform on the entertainment stage.
3 to 4 p.m. - Healthy Cooking the RV Way Cooking Contest.
3:30 to 5 p.m. - Downtime performs on the entertainment stage.
5 p.m. Park Closes
Sunday, March 10...
9 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Jawhara Belly Dance Troupe on the entertainment stage
9:30 to 10 a.m. - Ray Duey's vegetable carving demonstration on the cooking stage.
10 to 10:30 a.m. - Yuma School District One's cooking demonstration.
10 to 11 a.m. - Jazz of Yuma performance
10:30 to 11 a.m. - Kale recipes presentation by Melissa Behunin, professor at Arizona Western College.
11 a.m. to noon - Chef Ben Ford's cooking demonstration on cooking stage.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Yuma Jazz Company
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - “Toss it Up” salad bar. Take a trip through for $2 per person. This event benefits Gila Ridge FFA.
noon to 1 p.m. - Color Your Plate cooking contest.
1 to 2 p.m. - Jean Myers, Food for Life cooking instructor, will offer a demonstration of recipes from the Food for Life Cancer Project cooking classes.
1:15 to 3 p.m. - Grupo Missael performs
2 to 3 p.m. - Chef Ben Ford's cooking demonstration on cooking stage. The “Sassiest salsa contest” will take place during this final demonstration, judged by Ford.
3 p.m. Park Closes