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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEB. 16, 2016
Yuma Lettuce Days bigger & better in 2016
Annual ag "feastival" sprouts up on UA farm Feb. 27 & 28
YUMA, Ariz. - Ever thought that what Yuma Lettuce Days needs is just a little more lettuce? Then heads up, because the annual “feastival” of desert agriculture promises to be bigger, better and greener in 2016.
Lettuce Days sprouts Feb. 27 & 28 at University of Arizona (UA) Yuma Agricultural Center (YAC), a working research farm just seven miles west of downtown.
And that means you won’t just be sampling delicious cuisine created using fresh Yuma produce, you’ll actually be surrounded by lettuce – and have the chance to pick it yourself, see it being thinned, flown over by drones and more.
“This is the real deal – Lettuce Days now sprouts up right in the heart of Yuma agriculture,” said Linda Morgan, executive director of Yuma Visitors Bureau, which organizes the festival. “We’ve evolved from a street fair with some ‘special dressing’ to an event with culinary flair, to a full-on farm adventure.”
New this year, you can get down and dirty and pick your own veggies at the Yuma Area Ag Council U-harvest field, and watch master gardeners arrange blossoms from on-site flower gardens. Besides veggies, there will be free tastings of citrus varieties and, if the weather cooperates, samples from a test planting of strawberry varieties.
Bringing star power to the Barkley Ag Kitchen Stage is “celebrity chef” Michael Cairns of the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia. A passionate advocate for local sourcing who often works with Arizona tourism groups to showcase the state’s unique cuisine, Cairns will give two live cooking demonstrations each day, backed up by an all-star lineup of local chefs that even includes “beer pairing” tips and samples.
The J.V. Smith Chop Chop Challenge returns this year, with both aspiring culinary students and professional chefs squaring off to see who can create the tastiest dish from a mystery basket of ingredients .
Also returning is Chef Ray Duey, world renowned for his fanciful fruit and vegetable sculptures, along with red-hot ice carvers who transform blocks of ice into frozen masterpieces.
To celebrate Yuma’s status as the world’s largest producer of Medjool dates, an old-fashioned “Datewalk” sponsored by R. J. Moody Appraisers steps off hourly. The Tanimura & Antle Toss It Up Salad Bar offers the chance to tie into a healthy meal and score a sample of artisan red onions.
Entertainment will be plentiful both days, with bands including hometown favorite Common Ground on the Quechan/Paradise Casinos Entertainment Stage, and dance groups, singers and a variety of smaller acts on the 1st Bank Yuma Family Stage.
A special Dole Vegetable Kids’ AG-tivities area will offer a variety of free, hands-on activities, from arts and crafts projects to mini-tractor races to interactive education in the UA Water Lab. The free Tractor Supply farm animal petting zoo will also offer with pony rides for a donation to Saddles of Joy. A rock climbing wall and castle maze with tower slide will be available at extra charge, either by the ride or with an unlimited-use wristband.
In addition, there will be a plethora of ag-related and assorted other vendors on hand along with lots of fun food and drink. You can explore the farm on a walking tour or aboard an open-sided Gowan “YACmobile” bus, and there will be plenty of tractors and equipment to check out.
Back by popular demand on Saturday only is the Westerner Products Yuma Recipe Box tasting event, where an array of local restaurants offer samples of their specialties. To minimize waiting and lines, a limited number of tickets will be sold for three different serving times (1, 2 and 3 p.m.) this year. Cost for this adults-only (21 & older) event is $10.
New for 2016 is Salúd to the Field Workers presented by Pasquinelli Produce. This Sunday-only feature begins with a church service and includes a free art exhibit and poetry readings. Special presentations at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. (limited seating, separate $10 admission) will include custom videos, first-person storytelling, Q & A sessions, and tasting samples of five dishes featuring Yuma-grown fruits and vegetables. Proceeds benefit Campesinos sin Fronteras..
All Lettuce Days tickets -- including those for farm tours, Recipe Box, and Salúd are available now at the Visitor Information Center, 201 N. 4th Ave. (credit cards accepted) or on site at Lettuce Days (cash only).
"We’ve really tried to offer something for all ages and interests at Lettuce Days this year," Morgan said. "It’s all about family fun, so come on out and lettuce entertain you!"
The Yuma Visitors Bureau is always happy to assist members of print, digital and broadcast media, either on assignment or pitching an idea with a Yuma angle.
Media Relations Specialist Ann Walker can suggest itineraries and facilitate visits, or provide you with the inspired details to help nail down an assignment. We pride ourselves on always going "above and beyond."
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For more information, contact Ann Walker at 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell) or email email@example.com. Thanks for your interest in the Yuma area.