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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019


Join in the celebration of the sweetest time of the year

Ripon’s 57th festival set for Mistlin Sports Park $1 carnival ride night takes place Thursday By G L E N N KA H L The Bul l et in The Bulletin

A Ripon area almond orchard is in full bloom.

Ripon’s Almond Blossom Festival perfect way to celebrate approach of sunny days


journey through the countryside between Ripon and Manteca as well as east toward Escalon finds an endless sea of almond trees ablaze in delicate pink and white blossoms The intoxicating smell of almonds in bloom has been filling the air around Ripon, Manteca and Escalon for the past DENNIS few weeks. WYATT The scent is the Editor sweetest perfume nature offers in February. It helps snap you out of your winter doldrums. It is a sure signal that spring is arriving to push away dreary skies and chilly weather. If you are new to the South County or have been here 20 years and sim-

ply haven’t ventured out into the countryside this time of year, do yourself a favor this weekend and take a drive. It doesn’t matter where: Louise Avenue east of Manteca, Jack Tone Road, River Road, North Ripon Road, Murphy Road, West Ripon Road, and countless others roads too numerous to mention. This week the scent will be a tad weaker and the trees won’t be as flush in white and pink blossoms. But it is still a pleasure to see the almond trees awaken from their winter slumber while stark branches help frame the skies and bright green grass graces the ground. Drive with your windows down to catch a slight whiff of almond perfume in the air. It is so strong that on some eve-

nings all you have to do is step out your front door to awaken your senses even if you’re miles from the nearest almond orchard. As the final weekend of February nears blossoms have started gently falling to the ground to create a magical snow-like covering as the pleasing aroma starts to subside and the mercury starts inching upwards. It is little wonder the Ripon Chamber of Commerce picked the last weekend of February to celebrate its blessings with the Almond Blossom Festival now in its 57th year. There’s no doubt about it. This is a sweet time of the year. And for countless thousands of South County residents the festival — and the orchard crop it salutes — is the perfect way to mark the return of sunny days.

Ripon’s 57th annual Almond Blossom Festival gets underway today with a $1 ride night. All rides are $1 (Thursday only) at the carnival that opens at 5:30 p.m. at the Mistlin Sports Park, Jack Tone Road and River Road. Thursday is also when the Almond Blossom Queen coronation takes place Thursday, at 7 p.m. at the Ripon Community Center. The Ripon Lions spaghetti dinner starts at 4:30 p.m. at the same location. The Almond Blossom bake-off starts at 7 a.m. at the Ripon Community Center. The carnival opens Friday starting at 4 p.m. There is also a craft and bake sale at the Ripon Senior Center, 433 S. Wilma Ave., starting at 9 a.m. The Almond Blossom Festival with its wide variety of food and craft vendors also takes place at the Mistlin Sports Park where the carnival is being staged. The festival and carnival get underway at noon. Saturday with the festival closing for the day at 5 p.m. Vendors are open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the carnival opens at noon. Admission to the grounds of free. There is a $5 parking charge. Also taking place on Saturday: u 6 a.m., Grange Pancake Breakfast, 827 Ripona Avenue. u 7 a.m., American Legion Auxiliary Breakfast, 100 block South Stockton Avenue. u 8:30 a.m., Almond blossom Fun Run at Stouffer Park. u 9 a.m. Craft and Bake Sale, senior center 433 South Wilma Avenue. u 10 a.m., Diaper Derby, Ripon High School North Gym; . u 11 a.m., Quarterback Club Beer and Brats fundraiser, Ripon Community Center. u 1 p.m. Almond Blossom parade.

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Almond Blossom Festival


The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019


When Saylor De Abreu heard her name called at the Almond Blossom Queen Coronation ceremony last year, she almost didn’t believe her ears. Being crowned Miss Ripon – and taken on the whirlwind, year-long tour of chamber events and social functions – was the furthest thing from her mind when she signed up to participate in the annual rite-of-passage. But now, looking back on the experiences that she has had and the people that she has met, De Abreu isn’t sure that she wants to surrender the crown and all of the fun that comes along with it. “Wearing the crown – definitely the thing that I’m going to miss most,” the Ripon Christian senior said with a chuckle. “But in all seriousness, you meet a lot of amazing people and get to do so many amazing things, and that’s what I’m really going to miss next week when I turn the crown over to the next young lady. “It’s been an amazing experience, and it’s something that I never would have expected and will never forget.” While she hopes to be studying at Vanguard University or another school in Southern California by this time next year, De Abreu – who plays golf and tennis for Ripon Christian and is very active in the drama department – said that she’ll be better off in her academic pursuits having picked up practical skills that participating in the Almond Queen Court provided her. From speaking in front of groups of people to being able to effectively communicate in a one-on-one setting, De Abreu said that being Miss Ripon has honed her ability to talk to people and opened her eyes to the community that she feels lucky enough to call home. “I feel like I have been blessed that I have been able to do this – that God has put me in this town and in this position,” she said. “I’m so blessed that I’ve had these opportunities, and this chance to play a role in something that’s so significant in this town’s history. SEE QUEEN, PAGE 4


 Photo contributed

For the last year Saylor De Abreu, right, has represented Ripon at public events and parades throughout the area.


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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019


“I didn’t grow up here like some of the other girls did, so it really allowed me to develop an appreciation for Ripon and the people that

live here.” The daughter of Ralph and Melody De Abreu, Saylor will formally relinquish her title tonight in a ceremony very similar to the one that she said was one of the most shocking moments of her young life – giving her the

chance to offer some words of encouragement and wisdom to whoever steps into the position. While she wishes that she could do it for another year, De Abreu said that she’s confident that whoever assumes the title will do it

the justice that it deserves – and have a wonderful time in the process. “When you first get crowned you think about how you have a whole year and there are so many things that you have to do, but it goes by so quickly – faster than you can realize,” she said. “So my advice to whoever gets crowned next week is to just take it all in. “Enjoy the moments while you have them because they’re gone before you know it.”

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To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@ mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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Photo contributed

Saylor De Abreu, currently a senior at Ripon Christian High School, will give up her title of Miss Ripon tonight when the 2019 Almond Blossom Queen is crowned.

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019


Van Laar almond growers come from long line of local farmers Bulletin Correspondent

vested first, followed a week later by the Sonora,” he said.

The sun was shining, and Herman and Lynette Van Laar were smiling. They were standing in the back of their century-plus-old family farm home surrounded by the sweet-smelling blossoms of almond trees in their 20-acre orchard. Absent was a trace of worry on their faces that was there five years ago almost to the day. It was the height of the drought in California, and they were debating whether they should turn on their water wells – an expensive proposition – to preserve their crop that year. They were not alone in their water worries. In orchards and fields around them – in rural Manteca and Ripon – were desperately hopeful blueand-white placards carrying the message, “PRAY FOR RAIN,” distributed by other farmers becoming increasingly apprehensive about the lack of any precipitation to quench the thirst of bone-dry fields and orchards. Not so this time. Even the previous days’ rains did not pose any harm on the almond trees bursting with buds. Even the early blossoms on the early varieties – the Sonora and the Nonpareil, which are the only two varieties that they have in their orchard – did not manifest the slightest destruction on the delicate petals. The Van Laars’ nut trees are expected to reach the peak of their blooming phase within the next few days. Other orchards around them consisting of later-harvest varieties such as the Carmel, Butte, and Monterey are still in the budding stage but on the brink of a full-flowering explosion in time for the perennially popular annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival held the last weekend of February. “It’s the Sonoras that are blooming now; next to bloom are the Nonpareils,” Herman said of the trees in their orchard. Interestingly enough, he pointed out, that order reverses come harvest time. “The Nonpareil will be har-

Harvest time happens in the fall. NO STRANGERS TO FARM LIFE The Van Laars are no strangers to farming. While Lynette was Ripon’s city clerk for many years, retiring only a few years ago, she grew up as a country girl and was raised by farmer parents and grandparents who lived and farmed in rural south Manteca and Ripon. Her grandparents actually had a dairy on the corner of the acreage where they have the almond orchard today on West Ripon Road. Later, they lived on another farm property with an almond orchard on Almondwood Avenue in rural Manteca. The grandparents later sold that property to Larry Haworth who continues to farm the 40-acre almond orchard today while at the same time helping his family run the Dutra Dairy on West Ripon Road founded by his late grandfather, Tony Dutra. Both Van Laars have many fond memories growing up in the country and helping their parents and grandparents. Herman actually chuckled as he recalled helping the family during walnut harvest time as a young boy. He still remembers picking up the walnuts on the ground “on my hands and knees” and gathering them in buckets. The nuts were knocked off not by machine but by hand by his grandfather, he said. For her part, Lynette remembers growing up in her grandparents’ farm on the corner of their current property. “They had an old house and a barn here. It was an operating farm at the time. They had cattle. They used to raise ducks too, and chicken” which they sold at Chinatown in San Francisco, she recalled. Their lifelong experiences growing up on a farm, and being exposed to the ups and downs of relying on the earth and the vagaries of Mother Nature, are evident in their positive attitude about things in life. A case in point was Lynette’s unflagging opti-

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin correspondent

Almond farmers Herman and Lynette Van Laar are all smiles surrounded by the Sonora and Nonpareil almond varieties at their almond orchard on West Ripon Road. Lynette is also Ripon’s longtime city clerk who is now retired.

mism even at the peak of the record drought in California five years ago when she com-

mented in an interview with the Manteca Bulletin, “We’ve had other years when it rained and rained, and we still came

up with something.” A few days before she made that remark, she predicted that there will be rain when the

almond trees are in bloom. Sure enough, that’s what actually happened.



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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019

Eastburg’s 100-year love affair with Ripon By GLENN KAHL The Bulletin

Les Eastburg at 100 years will lead the 57th Almond Blossom Festival Parade Saturday as the grand marshal. The parade will begin on Stockton Avenue at 1 p.m. and head in a westerly direction down Main Street through the historic downtown to Vera Avenue where it will turn left and continue to Fourth Street where it will turn left again and end at the Ripon Community Center. Born in his parent’s farmhouse on Walnut Avenue, name changed later to Mohler Road, in 1919. He attended Ripon schools and graduated from Ripon High in 1937 being later turned down for military duty in World War II because of high blood pressure. Les and his wife Margaret will be chauffeured in a four-door 1934 Ford with “suicide doors” in Saturday’s 57th Annual Almond Blossom Parade driven by Randy Heuvel who remembers racing gocarts as a teen with his son Art behind the Eastburg’s barn. Heuvel also recalls asking Eastburg, at the age of 95, to show him how to do some metal work on his lathe in the elder’s workshop. Heuvel said Les couldn’t help but to do the job himself – being out of the house standing at the lathe for two hours – said he liked being outside, Heuvel said. The Eastburgs had three children Elizabeth, Daniel and Art. They all followed their own dreams with Eliza-

beth Cilker teaching second to fourth grades in Milpitas. Daniel became an architectural engineer, and Art an electrical engineer – all graduates of Ripon High School. Daniel lives in Hemet in Southern California and Art in Las Vegas. Being a farmer’s kid, he has often been lauded for being “generous and kind and never involved in politics or any civic organizations.” He was the Ways and Means chairman as well as the treasurer of the Bethany Covenant Church on West Main Street at Acadia Avenue for 20 years, located across the street from Ripon Elementary School. Daughter Elizabeth recalled this week that her dad was the consummate farmer every day before they had left for college: “up at 6:15 every morning, went out to the barn and onto his farm and came back into the house for dinner, back to work at 6 and came for the night from his barn at 9.” She added that he loved his dogs and had several over his lifetime. His special dog in his growing up years was “Spot” with a big brown spot on his lower back. “We grew up amidst fruit trees and almonds, peaches, apricots, plums along with a number of horses,” she said. Les and his first wife Margaret Larsen were together for 39 years until she passed away in 1982. She was a legal secretary and they had met at Forkner College of Business in Stockton and married in 1942. Currently, he is married to Margaret Weststeyn,

San Joaquin Farm Bureau

wed in 1984. She is an ICU and emergency room nurse. They met playing miniature golf with a seniors’ singles group. His total married life has spanned 73 years. Les had shared a story of having his leg run over by his dad when he was 5-years-old in 1924. As the story goes, he wanted to ride into town with his dad from their farm that faced onto West Ripon Road. His dad said, no, but he added that he could jump on the running board, hold onto the door and ride up the dirt road where his dad would be making a right turn toward downtown Ripon and Les was expected to jump off. Luckily the car had somewhat bald tires and the ground was soft and sandy as he jumped and fell under its wheels with his leg being run over. His dad, hearing his son’s screams, backed up and in doing so ran over his leg a second time. With limited medical care available in Ripon in 1929, he recovered at home under his mother’s tender, loving care. “They didn’t go to the hospital for anything in those days,” daughter Liz noted. He has continually taken care of his own 20 acres of almonds and those for other farmers in the area along with running the Eastburg Almond Huller for some 35 years, she added. He also worked at Sharpe General Depot as a civilian employee before becoming an employee for Bank of America in Brentwood, a bookkeeper for Stockton Iron Works, a time keeper

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Les Eastburg and wife Margaret

but an electrician, welder and devoted member of the Covenant Church in downtown Ripon, adding that he knew his first wife, Margaret. “He helped me remodel my house 25 years ago. He was my electrician. My Dad had recruited a couple more men from the church to help along with Les who has always has had his heart in the right place. You see genius in everything he has created in his barn, Tornell said, who first had an old farm house on River Road where he wanted to set up an

office in a dark canning basement. Eastburg had to crawl under the house and through small holes to place the wiring despite a number of rats he ran into in the process – and there was light.” Les and Margaret have recently moved to a cottage at Bethany Home on West Main Street in Ripon. His family honored him with a birthday party on his actual birthday, January 6. To contact Glenn Kahl, email gkahl@mantecabulletin.com.


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for a Japanese Relocation Center at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in the World War II era and he became a journeyman welder after taking night classes realizing welders made more money than time keepers. He then signed on as a welder with the Pollock Shipyards in Stockton having also having welding in a shop class at Ripon High School and working at Spreckels Sugar from 1937 to 1941 the year his dad Victor passed away. All his jobs were instrumental in educating him for his own farming business as a welder and bookkeeper. His daughter added, “He created and repaired all his own equipment.” “I can remember him as a child sitting at the table at home with his big bookkeeping book for both business and family incomes and expenditures. Dad was not one who wanted praise or his name in the paper,” she said. Les is a well-known customer at Schemper’s ACE Hardware Store in Ripon where he shops for parts and tools several times a week with everyone one working in the store recognizing his joyful demeanor on one of his many projects. Retired Ripon High Math and English teacher Jim Tornell knew Eastburg for many years and said he was close to being considered a genius as he was able to think out the necessary elements to creating new tools for his farm production. Tornell said Eastburg was not only a farmer

Heather Armstrong Fogg states it simply. There’s “nothing better than California almonds to cook with.” That’s not just boastful speaking. She has proofs. First, there’s her Lemon Sable Cookies. She entered these in The Record’s cookie contest a few years back, and then “I entered them into the State Fair,” she said. “I think I got a red ribbon for them.” She won The Record’s readers’ voting category for which she received a grocery card.

She does not recall where she got her other recipe, Crockpot Cinnamon Almonds, “but they are a family favorite,” said Fogg, a teacher at Venture Academy charter school in Stockton. Ruthanne Bassette, a retired Manteca Public Library employee, has a very simple recipe when it comes to this popular and nutritious nut. In fact, it’s her favorite almond recipe. It consists of “two cups of fresh raw almonds” microwaved for four minutes. “Cool and eat at least ten

every day!” she said. Her “Sweet and Spicy Almonds” recipe below is also relatively quick to prepare. Longtime and now retired Manteca Unified employee Gloria Brown Dovichi also shared her family’s favorite almond recipe. It was something that her mother originally found in the newspaper several years ago. The ingredient does not call for actual whole almond nuts but “almond extract flavoring.” The other recipe she shares Blue Diamond Almond Bars - is a “wonderful recipe from a dear

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019

slivered almonds Grease a bundt pan with butter and thinly sprinkle with slivered almonds. Stir together other ingredients, and pour into bundt pan. Bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. BLUE DIAMOND ALMOND BARS


1 cup sanding or lrg granulated sugar for rolling Directions: 1. In a medium bowl combine confectioner’s sugar with almond flour. 2. Place butter in the bowl By G l ori a Brow n D ov i c hi of an electric mixer with the Crust: paddle attachment.  Beat until 2 cups flour light and fluffy then add lemon 1 cup powdered sugar zest and beat to combine, about 1 cup butter, softened            1-2 min. Topping:         3. At a low speed, gradu1 cup butter            ally add the almond flour/con1 cup brown sugar fectioner’s sugar mixture until ¼ cup sugar combined. 1/3 cup honey 4. Add the eggs and lemon ¼ cup heavy cream juice until combined. (up to 3 cups sliced almonds 1TBS extra can be added if you   desire a more lemony taste) Heat oven to 375 degrees. 5. Slowly add the flour until combined Crust:  6. Place 2 or 3 sixteen inch In medium bowl, combine pieces of waxed paper oe parchment on the counter. Divide the crust ingredients until soft and dough evenly onto the pieces.  crumbly. Press mixture into 15-inch x Fold the paper over and using a ruler, roll and form the dough into       a  log with a 1 ½” in diameter.  Wrap the log and chill for 3 or more hours. 7. Preheat oven to 350*F line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. 8. Pour the large granulated sugar into an unlined cookie sheet. Unwrap the logs and roll them in the sugar until well coated. 9. Cut the logs into ¼” slices and place on the lined cookie sheets about 1” apart. Bake until the edges of the cookies start to brown, about 12-15 min. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Store baked cookies in an air tight container up to 2 weeks or freeze cookies in the freezer up to 1 month. CRACKPOT CINNAMON ALMONDS

10-inch jelly roll pan. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.   Topping:  In saucepan, combine brown sugar, sugar, honey and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil without stirring; boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream and almonds.  Spread over crust. Bake until bubbly, about 15 minutes.  Cool. Cut into diamonds, triangles, or bars. ENJOY!!

1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tbsp water. Stir until combined, about one minute.  Add almonds and toss to coat.

Transfer almonds to sugar mixture (do not scrape extra glaze into bowl). Spread almonds on a waxed paper lined

baking sheet and let cool. Nuts can be stored up to 2 weeks at room temperature in an airtight container

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By Ruthan n e B as s e tt

In a large bowl , combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt and 1 tsp cayenne pepper. Microwave 21/2 cups almonds for 7 minutes.  While they are cooking, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat

IN RIPON, 234 W. Main St., 209-254-2100 IN MANTECA, 660 N. Main St., 209-249-2200 bankofstockton.com


By Heather Armstrong Fogg

Ingredients: 1 1/2 C. Sugar 1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar 3 Tbsp. Cinnamon 1/8 tsp. Salt 1 Egg White 2 tsp. vanilla 3 Cups Almonds 1/4 C. Water Directions: In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it’s a little frothy. Add almonds. Make sure the almonds are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture. Add cinnamon mixture to the almonds and toss until coated. Thoroughly spray with the stoneware of your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray and add the mixture of almonds and sugars. Cook on low (with the lid on) 3-4 hours stirring every 20 minutes. In the last hour, add the 1/4 C. of water and stir well. This ensures a crunchy yummy coating. (*make sure after you’ve added the water that you continue to cook the nuts for another 45 minutes to an hour.) You have to stir really well, especially as it gets later in the cooking process. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the almonds flat to cool. The almonds will be sticky at this point, so make sure you separate them a little and have no large mounds. EGG NOG CAKE

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Garton Tractor, Inc. 5933 McHenry Avenue Modesto, CA 95356 1-877-TRACTOR

By G l or i a Brow n D ov i ch i

1 yellow cake mix 1 1/2 cups egg nog 1/8 tsp. nutmeg 2 eggs 1/2 cup soft butter 1 tsp. rum extract (or almond extract, if desired)


Optional equipment may be shown.




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Deep Roots ~ Strong Branches






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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 21, 2019

Natural Path Wellness Center Invites you to celebrate our

6th Year Anniversary

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2019 • FROM 9am-12pm Stop by and meet our staff | Enjoy a mimosa & food Enter into our drawing for free SERVICE GIVEAWAYS iBEAUTY Treatment • One Hour Massage Full Set Classic Lashes • Product Giveaways

Specials for the day 2/23/19


MICRODERM PACKAGE-INCLUDES FACIAL Package of 4-$380 • Package of 6-$540 • Package of 8-$640 • Package of 12-$900 60 Minute Massage-Regularly $75 Package of 2-$130 • Package of 4-$240 • Package of 6-$330 • Package of 8-$400 VITAMIN SHOTS $10 OFF

Customized Facial-$65 PRODUCTS

Buy One Get One 50% off *OF EQUAL OR LESSOR VALUE.

Some of our Amazing Services

• Massage Therapy • Cupping • Yoga • Skin Care • Wellness Care • Vitamin Shots

February Specials

Enjoy a glass of Champagne & Chocolates with your service during the month of February MASSAGE & FACIAL SPECIAL 1 Hr Massage with Strawberry Smash back scrub & 1 Hr Facial with Chocolate Mask Non-Member rate $130 • Members rate $120 • Teen facial with brow wax for $50 LASHES INTRODUCTORY OFFER Full set Classic $120 • Full set Hybrid $160 IBEAUTY INTRODUCTORY OFFER $99 Exfoliates • Plumps • Lympthatic Drainage • Removes fine lines CHEMICAL PEELS Medical Grade Chemical Peel 15% off • Members enjoy 25% off

Natural Path Wellness Center Voted Business Of The Year 2015! 303 W. Main St., Ripon 209-599 WELL (9355) • NATURALPATHWELLNESS.CO

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57th Annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival  

57th Annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival  


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