Second Annual Sweet Potato Festival celebrated in Livingston

cwinterfeldt@sunstar.comSeptember 22, 2013 

There was no shortage of tasty tubers this weekend in Livingston, as hundreds turned out for the city’s Second Annual Sweet Potato Festival.

Gusty winds and a few clouds in the sky didn’t prevent people from taking in all the festival had to offer, with 40 food and information booths set up on the grounds of the Max Foster Sports Complex.

Festival-goers participated in an array of activities, from petting a camel at the Kids Zone petting zoo, a Ferris wheel ride at the carnival, or checking out the selection of freshly harvested sweet potatoes and yams. At the Dress Your Tater contest table yams were dressed up as favorite movie characters such as Darth Vader, or in this case Darth Tater.

Cecilia Millan, 43, and Angie Del Real, 31, were posted at the sweet potato booth of Quail H Farms, the second-largest grower in Livingston. They passed out goody bags and recipe cards, while displaying the four varieties that the producer grows. “I really enjoy selling our sweet potatoes because they are good and good for you. They’re healthy,” Del Real said.

Del Real spoke positively about the festival, saying, “I’m enjoying it. I’m just wondering why we never had it before. It’s a very popular commodity. This is the start of something that’s going to get really big soon.”

Millan added, “It also helps because it brings the whole community together and not just people from Livingston. And it has a little bit of everything for families and kids. If we continue doing this every year, it’s going to get bigger and better.”

One of the popular attractions Saturday was a cooking demonstration. Livingston-raised chef Ismael Castro, 38, who recently returned to California from New York and now creates cuisine at a Palo Alto country club, showed festival patrons how to prepare sweet potato risotto, as well as sweet potato buffalo wings.

A young entrepreneur who just bought a food truck for her business Sweet Cheeks-Fair Treats, Mariah Vitoria, 20, of Hilmar, made funnel cakes covered with sweet potato sauce.

Merced Art Hop also had a booth with local Art Hop artists along with arts and crafts activities. There was also a car show, concerts and movie night, as the festival continued through Sunday.

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