Nut Festival brings community together, celebrates ag(ri)culture


Randall Mattson, Co-owner of Richvale Natural Foods, stands at his booth for a picture. Mattson is a donor to the Hungry Wildcat Food Pantry. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Sept. 25

The 14th annual California Nut Festival returned this weekend after being postponed then canceled last year. The event attracted consumers and vendors alike to the Patrick Ranch Museum on Saturday.

Attendees had the opportunity to sample a variety of dishes, beverages and support local agricultural vendors. Two stages hosted a number of local bands, including Channel 66, Brad Petersen & Friends and Sunday Iris, which provided live music for festival-goers throughout the entire event.

In addition to various samples and live music, the festival included an artisan fair where local artists could showcase and sell their work. The festival also held the Nutty Chef competition, a “crowd favorite” that features three local chefs competing for the best dish.

Early stages of preparation for round three of the Nutty Chef competition. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Sept. 25

Susan Donahue, the event coordinator, said the festival served mostly as an opportunity for consumers to learn more about local agricultural vendors.

While local vendors engaged with festival attendees, Chico State’s College of Agriculture, led by External Relations Director Sarah Deforest, answered questions and educated the public at its information booth. Angel De Trinidad and Ryann Vierra, Chico State students who are a part of the newly revamped Ag Ambassador program, helped run the booth as well. 

Deforest spent the time rotating between the College’s booth and the Butte County Cattlewomen’s booth. She said the point of the school’s presence at the event was to let attendees know about Chico State’s College of Agriculture by showcasing University Farm produce and how they relate to the California agriculture industry.

De Trinidad and Vierra cheerfully answered questions from attendees of all ages, from older Chico State alumni to children.

Angel De Trinidad and Ryann Vierra working the College of Agriculture booth at the festival. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Sept. 25

De Trinidad said attending the event was important because “it’s easy for the consumer to forget where their food comes from.” He felt like the University Farm has been underutilized by Chico State students. 

Both Ag Ambassadors encourage students to try one of the University Farm’s free, tractor-driven monthly tours.

Like all public events in 2021, safety and COVID-19 protocols are still a concern. Donahue said that hand sanitizer was abundant and booths had more space between each other than in previous years.

Enloe Medical Center had a booth where medical workers educated the public on COVID-19 and administered vaccinations upon request. 

All ticket sales went toward the Patrick Ranch Museum’s mission to preserve the museum and the agricultural history of the Sacramento Valley

Anyone who missed the event this year can look forward to next year’s Nut Festival, you will have a shell of a time and walnut regret attending. Cashew later!

Local band plays while attendees visit booths. Photo by Noah Herbst, taken Sept. 25

Noah Herbst can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @NoahHerbst13