Califonia Bountiful

The hills are alive with mandarins

Festival celebrates one of Placer County's most popular crop

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The new gold in Placer County is growing on trees these days, as the county has become known for its intensely flavored, sweet mandarins.

The annual Mountain Mandarin Festival celebrated 20 magical years recently, with a new crop of foothills-grown mandarin oranges. Placer County farmers sold thousands of pounds of fresh mandarins to festival-goers, who were able to meet some of the folks responsible for growing their local produce. In addition to all the samples you could ask for, there was also a mandarin recipe contest, chef demonstrations, food, artisan crafts, a "Peel & Eat" contest and live music.

Begun in 1993, the Mountain Mandarin Festival is held each year on the weekend before Thanksgiving at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn. The festival celebrates the new crop of locally grown mandarins that have become a traditional staple for this Sierra Nevada foothill town. More than 225 vendors were at the 2013 festival to sell mandarins and mandarin-scented products.

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