The annual San Joaquin Asparagus Festival is back in Stockton this weekend. April 14th-16th will be filled with more asparagus food combos, events and activities than ever before.

The festival will provide locals and inbound travelers alike with live music, vendors, a petting zoo, pony rides, train rides, a pageant and so much more in addition to the traditional asparagus-themed grub attendees have come to expect over the years. 

A recent and much anticipated addition to  the event’s activity schedule is  monster truck rides.

The opportunity to ride in the back of a monster truck has risen in popularity  according to festival spokesperson Alan Sanchez. 

“It’s an experience that you never would have had a chance to do before,” Sanchez said.

The Miss Asparagus Pageant, which has been around since the start of the festival, is offering new chances for winners in all age groups. According to the rules,  those 12 and under can compete in the Princess Program, a Teen Division is available for kids  13-15 years olds and the Miss Division is for those  ages 20 and older.

“It’s just such an amazing way for the youth to be involved within our community,” Miss Asparagus 2022 Arveen Birdi said during the presentation at the official media day on April 6. “To be able to gain volunteer experience and just to be a part of this amazing festival where family and friends could come together and have a great time.”

Local bands and local dance groups will be performing instead of the usual bigger-name bands, giving them an opportunity to perform on stage in front of a familiar crowd, their community. … said who?

“This gives them an event and a memory that they can have for the rest of their lives,” Sanchez said.

According to Sanchez, the Asparagus Festival has garnered questions and concerns about safety and security over the years. Working with Stockton Police and Quality Service Security, law enforcement will be walking in groups touring the entire area while enjoying the festival and interacting with the community.

“We’re just here to make sure everyone is happy,” said Tokyo Thompson of Quality Security, which is involved in securing the event.. “The smoother, the better.”

But last year was noted as a success with zero (criminal? safety?) incidents reported Stockton Police Department representatives said  during the media preview event they’re hoping for a repeat.

“We just really want people, if they’ve never tried out this Asparagus Festival before, I want them to give us a chance,” Sanchez said, noting how if people realized how much fun the festival is they’d be a fan forever. “They think well, Stockton is not gonna be safe and I go well, what incidents have you heard before?”

In 2014, Tony Noceti, the CEO of the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, took over the Stockton Asparagus Festival having their first run at San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in 2015. 

Noceti renamed the festival ‘San Joaquin Asparagus Festival,’ explaining how he wanted to continue the legacy since asparagus originally started in the Delta, noting the festival is the crown jewel of Stockton.

“Along with that said it takes the group, my family, my wife, my kids, you know, our friends have really jumped in there,” Noceti said, noting how they are a small group of people who make things happen. “We’re blessed to have friends like that.”

The fairgrounds is located at 1658 S. Airport Way in Stockton. Ticket prices are $20 for adults (18-64), children ages (6-17). Seniors and military personnel are $15 with children 5 and under free. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. each day.

“We’re proud about what we do here and we want people to experience it,” Sanchez said. “Definitely try to experience it in different ways like they never thought: deep fried, ice cream, bacon wrapped, and then you realize, okay, maybe if you don’t like asparagus, maybe there’s a good way to eat it.”

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