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Must-Attend Events & Festivals in California’s Central Valley

By Wes Rhea | Festivals, Fresno/Clovis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Madera Wine Trail – Madera Vintners Association, Merced Visitor Services, Modesto Convention & Visitors Bureau, Oakdale Tourism & Visitors Bureau, Visit Bakersfield, Visit Fairfield, Visit Stockton, Visit Vacaville, Visit Visalia, Visit Yolo, Visit Yosemite | Madera County, Yosemite | Mariposa County

There’s no better way to experience the local culture and heartbeat of a destination than attending one of the communities’ favorite local events. Plan your California road tripadventures around these epic Central Valley annual events and festivals!   

Oakdale Rodeo

Saddle up! The Cowboy Capital of the World pulls out all the stops for the annual Oakdale Rodeo. Always held the second week of April, the fast-paced crowd-pleasing professional rodeo features two days of world champion cowboys and stock, as well as a Rodeo Parade and annual Miss Rodeo competition.   

San Joaquin Asparagus Festival - Stockton

For more than 30 years, Stockton has celebrated this infamous spear once grown by the thousands of acres in the Stockton area. Now held at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, the three-day festival remains a family favorite. Known not only for its asparagus dishes, such as deep friend asparagus and asparagus ice cream, the festival hosts a wide variety of food vendors, many selling asparagus dishes, and fair favorites. Craft beer, a family stage, petting zoo, local vendors, and a large midway carnival are also part of the event. Concerts and other live entertainment are also featured each day. 

Vacaville Fiesta Days

A tradition since 1957, each year the city of Vacaville celebrates Fiesta Days to usher in the summer season. Fiesta Days is a five-day celebration held over Memorial Day weekend where visitors and locals come together to enjoy live music, a carnival, food, drinks, and the ever-popular Fiesta Days Parade.   

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Suisun Valley Passport Sunday

Taste your way through Fairfield’s Suisun Valley wine country each spring when the vintners and growers come together to present their annual Passport Sunday experience. A passport buys your way into participating wineries, all partnered with local chefs and restaurants to create a wine and food pairing trail that rivals neighboring Napa Valley’s tasting experiences (at a much more affordable price tag).   

Taste of Yolo

Bringing together the many agricultural delights of Yolo Country, Taste of Yolo is a summer celebration highlighting the bounty of the Central Valley. From wine and beer tastings to street food vendors, farm vendors, cooking demonstrations, music and more, visitors flock to this annual event to get a taste of the flavors of the region.  

Modesto Graffiti Summer

The birthplace of acclaimed filmmaker George Lucas celebrates the inspiration for his popular classic film “American Graffiti” every summer. Throughout the month of June, visitors will find an ever-growing event calendar featuring everything from street fairs to classic car parades, concerts, and an impressive showcase of American Graffiti culture.   

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Bakersfield Jazz Festival

This iconic event has been a fixture of springtime in Bakersfield for more than 30 years. Held at the beautiful CSU Bakersfield campus, the two-day Bakersfield Jazz Festival features a lineup of local and internationally-acclaimed jazz musicians on two stages, plus food, drinks, and activities for the whole family.  

Madera Wine Trail Wine & Chocolate Weekend

A perfect Valentine’s Day experience, Madera Wine Trail’s annual Wine & Chocolate Weekend celebrates everyone’s favorite combination of wine and chocolate (generally held the weekend prior to Valentine’s Day). Participating wineries along the wine trail offer chocolate sampling, live music, delicious food and gift shopping.  

Fresno County Blossom Trail

Each year when the weather begins to warm, the blossoms of the Central Valley come alive in full force. The Blossom Trail is a 62-mile self-guided motor tour featuring blossoming stone fruit and nut orchards, citrus groves, vineyards and historical points of interest. Fresno County’s blossom trail lets visitors from around the world come and experience the magic of the massive bloom with stops along the many orchards that dot the countryside.  

Visalia- A Taste of Downtown

Each year in October more than 30 restaurants in Visalia come together to welcome visitors and locals to the annual Taste of Downtown event. A ticket to the event admits you to tasting at all participating restaurants, plus access to beer and wine tasting. Live music sets the mood as you stroll downtown. Tickets usually sell out so plan early!  

Merced County Fair

The Merced County Fair, founded in 1851, welcomes the summer season by showcasing the area’s agricultural abundance and the history of its culturally-diverse communities. This five-day event features delicious fair food, carnival rides, live music, livestock exhibits, competitive floriculture exhibits, interactive science exhibits, and much more.    

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