Wednesday, May 08 2013 01:35 PM

Cherry Festival worth a pit stop

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    A popular spot for locals and travelers is Murray Family Farms, east of Bakersfield on General Beale Road.

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Juvencio Ramirez picks Tulare cherries at Murray Family Farms on Monday morning.

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BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

With so much going on this weekend, you really need to cherry-pick your activities. Luckily, Murray Family Farms makes that easy with its second annual Cherry Festival.

"(Cherries are) something that everybody is drawn to," said Abel Varela, produce supervisor at Murray Family Farms. "You say cherry and people say, 'Where are they?' ... Cherries remind them of their childhood."

Related Info

Cherry Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Murray Family Farms, 6700 General Beale Road

Admission: $7.99; children 3 and under admitted free

Information: 330-0100

On Saturday, prepare to celebrate all things cherry with a variety of fruit and sweets, a seed-spitting contest, entertainment and more. The only thing you won't be able to do is pick your own cherries -- but they're working on it.

"On our property, we bring cherries in (from our other location on Copus Road). We're growing trees to pick. It'll be about another year to mature. They're 2-year-old trees; it's a minimum three years (to maturity)."

Like those trees, the festival is continuing to grow, with organizers moving it up to reflect the season.

"Cherries came into season about a week and half ago. Last year we had it later, in late May. We want to have it earlier (this year), bring in more people. We wanted to get people excited about cherries."

Even later in the season, last year's turnout was impressive, according to media coordinator Jennifer Smith, who counted 1,000 attendees.

A variety of cherries will be offered for tastings, including Minnie Royal, Royal Rainier, Flavor Giant, Champagne Coral, Brooks, Tulare, Sequoia and GG1.

To further tempt visitors, the Cal-Okie Kitchen will serve a sweet selection of cherry dishes: brownies, pies, cobblers, muffins, scones, cake, nut fudge, ice cream and cherry lemonade smoothies.

The bounty extends to the entertainment with employee Andrew Carrillo performing acoustic folk music as Andrew's Royalties. Murray tour guide and resident artist Mimi Ramos will also perform along with her Latin dance group.

Regular farm fun will also be in full effect with the giant jumping pillow, hayrides, kids' play area and petting zoo.

If you want to help provide the entertainment, join the seed-spitting contest, which was a popular show last year.

"The winner of last year's (contest) spit 18 to 20 feet," Varela said. "We had a 12-foot marker and they spit way over that."

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