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Lemon festival is sweet as lemonade

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Gabriel Salazar of San Bernardino makes a Baja-style bacon wrapped hotdog Saturday at the Upland Lemon Festival. The event also featured live bands, various vendors and carnival-style games. / photo by Ariel Torres

Gabriel Salazar of San Bernardino makes a Baja-style bacon wrapped hotdog Saturday at the Upland Lemon Festival. The event also featured live bands, various vendors and carnival-style games. / photo by Ariel Torres

Thousands of laughing and smiling guests gathered last weekend to enjoy carnival rides, lots of fried food, live music and a pie eating contest Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the 22nd annual Upland Lemon Festival.

The Lemon Festival began in 1997 as a small celebration of Upland’s citrus industry origins, but has evolved into a city-wide attraction for families all over the area.

This year’s festival was organized by the Learning Centers at Fairplex.

All guests were welcomed free of charge all weekend to enjoy carnival rides, like the Ferris wheel, teacups and the zipper.

In addition, contestants could compete in a lemon pie eating contest and Upland’s Got Talent on the Citrus Grove Stage.

Upland resident Josh Williams said he came to the festival for the first time last year, and was sure he would return.

“The Lemon Festival is a great way to get my family together,” Williams said. “My 11-year-old daughter and my 75-year-old dad can both find something for them to do here.”

Another attendee, Elizabeth Gonzalez, said she loves the way the festival entertains her four active children.

“I’ve been bringing my kids here for five years now,” Gonzalez said. “They love the carnival rides and all of the weird fried foods. My kids are always wiped out after, so it makes my job easier.”

The Lemon Festival is also a great way for people to support local artists and businesses.

Guests had the chance to shop at vendors that sold everything from African art and toe rings, to Tupperware and organic fashion.

Adults could also indulge in a gazebo and wine garden, as well as local craft beer vendors.

Karina Munez, a team manager for the Upland Jr. Football League, helped recruit new children who were interested in Pop Warner football.

“We have had a steady group of parents sign their kids up so far,” Munez said. “The festival is a great way to reach more kids in our community, and help them get outdoors and active.”

A variety of bands and musicians preformed hourly, some of whom payed tribute to the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and Queen.

All weekend long, fair goers could enjoy the Citrus Museum, a butterfly exhibit, a caricature artist and even a gardening experience.

—Savannah Dingman

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