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Yuma Lettuce Days off to great start
The Yuma Lettuce Days festival will be back on Main Street Sunday after a successful run Saturday. The event runs again from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Sunday and Monday.
After a few days of gloomy and wet conditions which caused the festival to be delayed by a day, the weather gods took pity and granted a clear sky Saturday under a golden sun.
"The weather is great," said Susan Sternitzke, special events coordinator for Heritage Festivals. " It is beautiful, sunny and there are blue skies. I'm glad its not raining. I think we got more people this year than last year because of the rain. Everyone was cooped up and now they want to get out and come see what is happening. We've had a lot of people here today. I'm estimating between five and seven thousand people just (on Saturday)."
The attendees casually strolled from booth to booth Saturday to check out the wares of artisans, or to sample the fine vegetables offered up by local farmers.
Canadian husband and wife musical duo Peter and Mary Jansen were walking amongst the standing room only crowd with their guitar and banjo to pluck a little good cheer into the hearts of the passersby.
"This is our third year involved with the Lettuce Days and it really is a lot of fun," Mary said.
"We like lettuce, all kinds of lettuce," Peter said. "This is a good afternoon out and it doesn't get any better."
Mary said there was a larger crowd this year than in years past.
"It is not to hot and not to cold. It's perfect. It doesn't matter what age you are. This year I've noticed there are quite a bit more families coming down, which is good because that means the festival is expanding."
Sternitzke said more families is exactly what is needed at Lettuce Days.
"Main Street is alive today. A lot of people in Yuma still haven't been to Main Street, and so we are adding a lot more family things to get the families to come. We have also added a lot of youth activities."
Sternitzke said she is very happy with Saturday's turnout.
"In fact it is almost overwhelming in areas because it is hard to walk. I’m glad we expanded it another block this year for that reason. There are more vendors and we got a lot more local participation which is nice. There are a lot of non-profit organizations that are making money. This is a win-win for everybody."
One of those non-profits, the Yuma Community Food Bank, was on hand to sell fresh produce.
"We are having a farmers market for the Lettuce Days, and we are selling produce and food items which are donated to the food bank," said Jerry Garcia, YCFB special events coordinator.
"The money goes back to the food bank to help feed families. We are selling cauliflower, broccoli, salad mixes, potatoes and lettuce. We have it all down here and it ranges from 25 cents to $3 each. It is all fresh and was donated by local farmers. If somebody wants a taste of Yuma, come to lettuce days and see what the food bank has to offer."
Sternitzke said the agriculture tours are a huge hit, and if folks are interested in taking it, they should get there early before all the spaces are filled up.
"There are about 400 spaces available so if people want to take the tour they need to be at our tent at 10 a.m. and line up. If they miss it Sunday they can come back Monday. The tour is only available during Yuma Lettuce Days. Sunday and Monday it is free but we are asking people to donate money to the Save the Territorial Prison Campaign. We are going to start saving money for the prison. We've got to save it."
Sternitzke said people are sure to have a great time at the festival.
"There are clowns puppets, dogs, kids and tons of food. There is something for everybody. People can come and maybe thank a farmer for everything they do because this community thrives on agriculture. We are really happy to have a lot partners this year from the local community."
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.