My family and I drove out to the Capay Valley Almond Festival this past weekend to catch the almond blossoms at their peak.
The festival, which dates back to 1915, encompasses a 21-mile stretch of Highway16 and is hosted by the towns of Rumsey, Guinda, Brooks, Capay and Esparto. It originally began after the fall almond harvest but later switched dates to take advantage of the spring blossoms.
According to festival organizers, almonds are California’s largest tree nut crop. They’re a $2 billion industry in California, with more than 6,000 growers devoting 530,000 acres in the Central Valley to almonds. Festival-goers are encouraged to admire the blooms of these trees in the Capay Valley using the Blossom Trail Map.
When we passed by Esparto Park around 10:30 a.m., a busy little festival was underway, complete with a classic car show, pancake breakfast and novelties like almond churro shortcakes. By noon, traffic was backed up to the I-505 and an influx of weekend motorcyclists had arrived, understandably drawn to the idea of a beautiful drive in the country followed by live music and barbecued ribs.
But for us, the main attraction was a few more miles down the highway, and off to the side of the road — almond orchards in full bloom.
Some of the trees were at their peak, while others looked like they’d prefer to bloom this weekend. After all, the festival may be over, but the days of almond blossoms are not.