FOR THE PAST NEARLY 30 YEARS, THE FRAGRANCE OF CITRUS has perfumed seemingly every corner of Goleta, California for two-to-three days each September. The city’s denizens and visitors alike have taken to lots decked out with vendors and fair regalia, orchards, restaurants—and anywhere else they can fit to partake in lemon-based treats in celebration of the region’s agricultural history.
Suffice it to say that, in Goleta, lemons are a big deal. In fact, the Goleta Lemon Festival is a key cultural artifact for the region. In many ways, it symbolizes the local’s collaborative relationship with nature—in particular, its long-standing agricultural history. As has been detailed extensively elsewhere, history is of profound importance to Goleta’s locals, and many of their cultural gatherings situate it as a centerpiece of their celebrations.
Lemons are an integral part of Goleta's agricultural history.
As you make your way through Goleta, you’ll likely notice that there is an abundance of lemon trees that line the streets and perfume Goleta’s vast, green hillsides. You may be inclined to ask yourself: why so many lemon trees?
The Stow House is arguably the origin point for much of Goleta's cultural and economic history.
Edgar Stow was a manager of Rancho La Patera in the late 1800s up until the mid-1900s. As the director of the ranch’s activities, Stow was responsible for developing irrigation and harvesting techniques—which he did by experimenting in his laboratory for several years.
These experiments yielded a variety of positive results, including Stow’s realization that lemon plants could thrive particularly well in Goleta’s uniquely balmy environment. He promptly set about planting and cultivating the most productive lemon trees that he could, which was an act that would influence the fate of the region for years to come. Soon, Goleta became a highly prominent lemon growing center with a thriving packing industry. The economic and cultural impact of this addition to Goleta’s agricultural history cemented lemons as an important local treasure, hence the eventual adoption of the annual festival.
Lemon-based bites and sips are a major part of the Goleta Lemon Festival.
There’s more to be found at the annual Lemon Festival than proud-standing trees and the smell of citrus. In fact, the festival is a massive carnivalesque affair complete with arts and crafts vendors, a lemon pie-eating contest, a classic car show, and a variety of lemony treats dreamed up by local hobbyists, restaurateurs, brewers and more. Add live music, carnival games, rides and more to the mix, and you’ve got a seriously festive occasion before you.
For those who like to imbibe, the M-Special Brewing Company has in the past debuted a “Lemon IPA Beer” which uses local lemons to elevate the citrus in the flavor profile of its ales; the region’s bars and restaurants are likely to participate in the festivities by serving up delicious, citrus-based desserts, cocktails and more.
Similarly, since 2007 the Hollister Brewing Company has been using over 50 pounds of Goleta lemons to brew up their famed Lemonale. This delectable concoction fuses the sweetness and zest of local citrus with the spice of ginger and a little bit of lemongrass to create a complex lemony-sweet flavor akin to a high-brow lemonade.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the annual Lemon Festival is its family-friendly atmosphere.
Families can get to know local businesses who join the festival to sell their wares; teenagers can engage in acts of community service by connecting with the festival for volunteer opportunities; and all community members are welcome to cooperate with local nonprofits to volunteer for a community clean-up.
Lodging throughout Goleta is comfortable, unique and spacious.
The Lemon Festival represents one of the most exciting and highly anticipated events along the Goleta Coast each year. People flock to the region to enjoy the sweet scent of lemon and the feel-good sense of community togetherness. Why not join in the fun this September 28 and 29, and book your stay today?