Saratoga Blossom Festival returns after 2-year pandemic hiatus – The Mercury News

After a two-year hiatus forced by the pandemic, Saratoga’s Blossom Festival returned on Saturday in full swing.

Hundreds of people came to the Heritage Orchard in Saratoga to celebrate Saratoga’s history, its farming roots and the community itself.

Rows of arts and crafts stalls lined the orchard as musicians performed and costumed historical figures roamed the orchard.

“It’s so family oriented, and it’s like Saratoga before. Friendly and it brings back some of Saratoga’s past history,” said Dianna Espinosa, a longtime Saratoga resident.

The Saturday Blossom Festival has been sponsored annually by the Saratoga Historical Foundation since 2013, but the tradition goes back much further in the past. The very first Blossom Festival began in Saratoga in 1900 and was held until World War II. The Historical Foundation then relaunched the festival in 2013.

“It’s a big family event, and it’s kind of unique to Saratoga, so it’s kind of nice to have,” said Annette Stransky, president of the Saratoga Historical Foundation. “You can bring your kids, go for a walk, [there’s] lots of great activities for the kids, it’s just a lovely way to spend a day.”

The historical society had to suspend the event for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year, the band closed Warner Hutton House to allow for better social distancing.

“My daughter could hardly wait!” Espinosa said. “She said, ‘It’s been two years and we haven’t been to the Blossom Festival! “”

Dozens of attendees flocked to the rows of vintage cars and Early Day gasoline engines and tractors that were parked outside the Warner Hutton House.

Vivek Vengateri and his daughter Swara, who live in Cupertino, joined the crowd to watch the unique cars as they drove through the area.

“I kept wondering how they kept it in such good condition!” Swara said cars.

David Welch, who lives in Saratoga, said he’s been coming to the festival for years and the vintage cars are his favorite part of the event.

“I just had a lot of friends involved in this for many years,” he said. “I exhibited my 56′ Oldsmobile, but have since sold it.”

But there were also plenty of activities to keep the kids riveted. Several children gathered in the petting zoo area to gawk and pet – the bunnies, the chickens and even a pony.

Arts and crafts vendors included everything from handcrafted woodwork and pillows to blown glass and fine jewelry.

And, about a dozen people dressed as distinguished personalities, like Isabel Stine – who built Hakone Gardens or Olivia de Havilland – the acclaimed actress who grew up in Saratoga – roamed the grounds to answer questions about Hakone’s past. the region.

Meanwhile, bands like Parlor Tricks, Dolce Musica, and Toot Sweet performed at locations in the orchard and in the gazebo.

But as Stransky noted, the story of the orchard is an integral part of the festival. Once known as the “Valley of Hearts’ Delights”, for its acres of fruit trees, the valley produced a third of the world’s annual prune production, she said.

“The valley was once the leading producer of prunes and agriculture was an important industry,” according to the Saratoga Historical Foundation. “Holding the event in the thriving Heritage Orchard and surrounding area is a reminder of the significance of this time period.”

Authors Tim Stanley, who wrote The Last of the Prune Pickers, and Lisa Newman, who wrote For the Love of Apricots, also made sure to keep the story alive on their own booths at the festival where they spoke about the role history of the valley.

“What a great way to spend this glorious sunny spring day in Saratoga!” said Mayor Tina Walia. “The Blossom Festival celebrates Saratoga’s fascinating history, and I can’t wait to see where our community goes next.”

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