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Historic downtown hosts Yuma Medjool Date Festival Nov. 16
YUMA, Arizona -- Though you wouldn't think of the Old West as a place to find a traditional treat of the Middle East, the Yuma area is one of the world's largest producer of gourmet Medjool dates - long known as the fruit of kings.
That's why this town on the banks of the Colorado River is busy making plans for its second annual Yuma Medjool Date Festival from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 16 in historic downtown, brought to you by the City of Yuma's Heritage Festivals and the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association.
This free event kicks off with complimentary coffee and Medjool date muffins for the first 1000 attendees. The day continues with live music and dance performances, cooking demonstrations by local chefs and a recipe contest for amateur cooks (entry form available on the website, due by 5 p.m. Nov. 15, judging at 2:30 p.m.). Kids are welcome, too, and can burn off energy in a inflatable jumper.
There's an opportunity to listen to growers talk about the art and science of growing dates and see the specially designed equipment that allows workers to ascend the majestic palms the 15 - 20 times per year necessary to produce a premium product. Experience a year in the life of the Medjool date at a special exhibition in the world famous Yuma Art Center - and enjoy a display of Medjool date art created by local students.
Back by popular demand are guided tours of Datepac's state-of-the art date packing facility - or new this year, get the chance to see date palms up close and personal on a date garden tour. Tour tickets ($5 per person) may be purchased in advance at the Visitor Information Center at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park, 201 N. 4th Ave., 800-293-0071, or "first come, first served" at the festival on a space-available basis.
But no matter what, you can leave your guilt at home, because Medjool dates are a "super food" that's naturally fat free, high in fiber and potassium, and low on the glycemic index. Bursting with flavor, Medjools are so richly delicious that many first-time tasters can't believe they have no added sweetener. Don't miss the chance to sample the local favorite, a tantalizingly tasty Medjool date shake!
Dates are an important part of Yuma's number one industry, agriculture - and even Saudi Arabia imports Medjools from our corner of Arizona, recognized by Guinness World Records as the sunniest place on earth. Yuma's ideal growing conditions mean that local growers don't need to use pesticides or chemicals to produce a heaping harvest of these tasty treats, worth more than $30 million to the local economy.
"This festival is an opportunity for the whole community to learn more about the wonderful world of Medjool dates and the hard work our growers put into making these natural delights available to the world," said Dave Mansheim, president of the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association. "We're excited to provide an 'inside look' into our product and industry, so come out and enjoy a taste of something uniquely Yuman."
For more details, visit the festival website at www.yumamedjooldatefestival.com.
Yuma Visitors Bureau markets the Yuma area within the travel and tourism industry and to the general public. Direct travel spending in Yuma County in 2012 totaled more than $657 million, supported 6,660 jobs and generated more than $40 million in state and local tax revenues.
Yuma's population nearly doubles in the winter months, thanks to more than 23,000 spots in RV parks and resorts. The community also offers nearly 4,300 hotel rooms, conference and meeting facilities, and three modern casinos. To plan your visit, head to www.visityuma.com or call 800-293-0071.
Recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's sunniest spot, Yuma offered free meals to guests "every day the sun doesn't shine" for a full year during Arizona's Centennial. Final score? Sunshine 365, Gloom 0.
Yuma Visitors Bureau contact:
Ann Walker, 928-376-0100 (office), 928-210-9044 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association contact:
Stephen Spill, 813-905-1115
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