Hope, Frustration Mark Opening Day of Asparagus Festival

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STOCKTON —

The 30th annual San Joaquin Asparagus kicked off on Friday, a feat in itself. 2014’s promoters announced they were calling it quits, citing rising cost and low attendance.

This year’s promoters made some major changes, including moving the festival to the Fairgrounds instead of Downtown Stockton, and re-branding the festival as San Joaquin’s Asparagus Festival instead of just Stockton’s.

Anahi Desimone hung handmade dresses along her booth at the festival. It’s the second year in a row for the small business owner, who is hoping to attract new clientele at the event.

“Because my opinions for the shows before, it was very, very good. So I want to give it a chance to try in this location,” Anahi Desimone, Co-Owner of Sew Sweet told FOX40.

It’s a move every vendor at the festival has made cautiously. 2014’s Stockton Asparagus Festival in Downtown brought in small crowds and high operating costs.

Now known as San Joaquin’s Asparagus Festival and located in Stockton’s Fairgrounds, vendors like Desimone and Hui Zhang of Aloha Express said they’re hoping the change of venue will breathe in new life.

“The first year in 2009, the economy is good. But you know, every year down, down, down,” Zhang said.

While many enjoyed asparagus ice cream, bacon wrapped asparagus and other things asparagus, frustration marked opening day. Some visitors said they waited for hours before the gates opened.

“Two hours to get these, man. Standing in this line,” a man in line said Friday.

More frustration than smiles marked the long line to get into the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival on opening day.

“There was no sign in front of the Fairgrounds that it opened at 2 o’clock. So a lot of people were kind of confused,” Robert Avila, of San Jose said.

“Two hours, two hours. 12 o’clock, we thought it was 10 o’clock,” Jerry and Joyce told FOX40 in unison.

It angered those who drove for hours to get their asparagus fix.

It took organizers some time to smooth things over. An employee told FOX40 someone had accidentally locked themselves out of the ticket booth causing the delay.

“But now it’s past two, so it’s been ten minutes that we’re actually waiting for the gate to open,” Susie Lim, of Sacramento explained.

A quarter past two and the sound everyone in line was waiting for rang true.

“This was the first time they’ve had it over here, so I’ll cut them some slack,” Jerry said.

Along with the gates opening, a slight shift in mood.

“I mean it’s the first day. Things happen,” Carlos Valencia of Stockton said.

The path toward redemption cleared the way to the hard-to-come-by asparagus ice cream.

“You guys are right on the ball!,” Jerry exclaimed as he walked away with his ice cream cone.

Doors open Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. Organizers told FOX40, unlike last year, they were able to cut down on costs for 2015.

For instance, unlike the prior year, they had to pay for fences in downtown Stockton. The Fairgrounds don’t require additional fencing.

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