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San Joaquin Asparagus Festival Returns Despite Local Farming Setbacks

STOCKTON -- From frozen, to fried the Asparagus Festival is back at the San Joaquin County fairgrounds in Stockton.

“It’s the whole community here," Tony Noceti the executive producer of the festival said. "Three stages going on, carnival, I mean so much to do out here.”

The three day event kicked off Friday.

One of the first stops for most visitors? Asparagus alley, where people stood in long lines for fried asparagus and asparagus ice cream.

“Along with the ice cream and, like you said, there’s traditional deep fry, I mean the bacon wrapped...there’s 14 different dishes down there,” Noceti said.

Organizers said every box of the green vegetable, every stalk at the event, came from the San Joaquin Delta.

“Very important to us that we get local, valley asparagus, and so it is coming from right here where we love the asparagus,” said Julie Linesburgh, the event’s "asparaboss."

While getting locally grown asparagus at the festival is relatively easy, getting some at your grocery store may be a little more challenging.

Bruce Blodgett with the San Joaquin Farm Bureau said Delta farmers have to compete with asparagus brought in from Mexico.

“When you start seeing asparagus at $1.99 a pound, $1.97 a pound…when you start seeing those prices, that’s less than the cost of our production,” Blodgett told FOX40.

Blodgett blames state lawmakers.

"And we keep seeing Sacramento pass law after law after law to drive our costs up,” he said.

Blodgett added that there used to be 60,000 acres of asparagus growing in San Joaquin County, that number has dwindled down to 3,000.

If you want to visit the asparagus festival in Stockton the last day to do so is this Sunday.