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August 14, 2012 > Zucchini Festival turns 30

Zucchini Festival turns 30

By Mahima Goel

Amid this summer season of good weather, celebrations, and numerous festivals, the Zucchini Festival in Hayward clearly makes its stand. Taking place on August 18 and 19 in Kennedy Park, it features live performances by talented community members and a myriad of stalls full of arts and crafts ranging from face painting to jewelry to a country store of souvenirs. All this, of course, is nestled within the smell and taste of fried, sauteed, dipped, and even stuffed, zucchini.

Back in 1982, as the economy was hitting a low point, many charities and non-profit organizations were having a difficult time. Hayward's mayor, Alex Giulani, saw this situation as an opportunity. Knowing that zucchini is a highly versatile plant and one of the easiest vegetables to grow, Giulani enlisted the help of other community leaders to start a festival that has become a popular entertainment venue, an enticement to try new dishes and opportunity to meet others. The festival has grown to become the largest zucchini festival in the nation.

Watching cooks prepare zucchini shish kebabs, chocolate zucchini cake or hamburgers with zucchini relish is not only enjoyable but ends with healthy, tasty and satisfying treats. Zucchini's surplus of vitamins is excellent nutrition for the immune system, lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. The festival not only is an introduction for many creative uses of this beneficial food, but also supports many local non-profit organizations including the South Hayward Lions, Salvation Army (who give $1 discount on Saturday in exchange for donating a can of non-perishable food) and Booster Clubs and Leo Clubs of various Bay Area school districts.

"We have a very nice arrangement this year," says festival General Manager and Zucchini Expert Rich Essi. "On one side, our 'Kids Town' covers all ages from kindergarten-sixth grade, with its wonderful rides and games with guaranteed prizes. We have everything from bouncers too spinning teacups to remote controlled racecars - this year, we even have wall climbing and bungee jumping." Assistant Manager Reese Essi continues, "On the other side, our main stage performers cover Latin music on Saturday and country and rock & roll music on Sunday."

Vice President of the Directing Board, Herb Witt added, "Saturday is a tribute to musicians that had been with us for what seemed like forever - Bobby Escovedo. He passed away recently so we wanted to make sure he was remembered."

"The best part about us," Rich says, "is that we have something to entertain everyone: live cooking demonstrations, a petting zoo owned by the park itself, a growing contest that I judge myself, and so many of these things are done by volunteers who just want to help out their community."

Feast on an extensive variety of zucchini dishes and help support local schools and nonprofit organizations at the 30th Annual Hayward Zucchini Festival. Don't miss it!

Hayward Zucchini Festival
Saturday, August 18 - Sunday, August 19
10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Kennedy Park
19501 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
(510) 278-2079

General admission $7; juniors/seniors/handicapped $4; kids under five are free

Entertainment Schedule:

Saturday, August 18: Latin Saturday, Bobby Escovedo Tribute
10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.: Red Paint
11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Blues Bottle Band
1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.: Third Sol
2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: En Vivo
3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.: Lava Latin Rhythms
4:45 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Manzo
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: Run4Cover

Sunday, August 19: Country Western, Rock & Roll
10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.: Reincarnated Revival
11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Tribute to Legends of Rock & Roll
1 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.: Joni Morris Country Ladies
2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Tribute to Elvis
3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.: Tribute to Johnny Cash
4:45 p.m. - 6 p.m.: California Cowboys
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.: Delta Wires

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