Still nuts for mandarins

New for the 25th annual Mandarin Festival are ice rink, beer contest and fun run
By: Paige Smith
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Make it with Mandarins recipe contest to award $2,300 in prizes

There’s still time to enter the Kitchen Craft Make It With Mandarins recipe contest — entries will be taken 11 a.m. to noon Nov. 18, the day of the contest. This year’s contest will give away $1,700 set of Kitchen Craft cookware for Best of Show and $100 for top place in each category. In addition, Snow’s Citrus Court will be offering a $100 bonus cash prize for a recipe using their Mandarin Orange Grill Sauce in a savory dish.

The popular event draws 30 to 40 entries and the judging will be on the Mandarin Cooking Stage in the Armory Building.

Categories are open to all ages and can be for main dishes, side dishes, including preserves, and desserts, but sorry, no cheesecakes. Entrants will need to bring the dish and give a typewritten copy of their recipe. No late entries will be accepted and recipes must be original, becoming the property of the Mountain Mandarin Festival. Judging begins at 12:20 p.m.

For an application and detailed rules, go to


Mandarin Festival

  • Nov. 16 – 18
  • Friday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Sunday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn
  • Tickets are: $4 Friday; $8 Saturday and Sunday; $5 seniors; free for 12 and under
  • Discount coupons are available at Save Mart in Auburn
  •, 530 5-ORANGE



Twenty-five years ago, the Newcastle Area Business Association started the Mandarin Festival in downtown Newcastle. The goal was to promote mandarin growing in Placer County. At the first event there were only four mandarin vendors and 10 craft vendors.

The festival has since moved to the Gold Country Fairgrounds in 2001 and has grown to be a three-day event. It serves as a kick off to mandarin season, said Gary Gilligan, executive director for the event.

“Last year we hosted 25,000 people and raised and donated over $500,000 to local nonprofits,” Gilligan said. “We fund five senior scholarships that the Newcastle Area Business Association hands out each year and also have a culinary scholarship that is provided annually.”

This year the 25th annual Mandarin Festival will have many exciting changes and new additions that will accompany the milestone. Guests will be able to enjoy 17 mandarin growers, 225 craft and commercial vendors and 15 food vendors. Gilligan said that all hot food vendors have to offer at least one item using mandarin oranges.

There are a few new additions to this year’s festival.

The Heritage Festival Foundation is installing the synthetic ice skating rink and it is slated to be open all season. It will be Auburn’s first skating rink of its kind for this time of year.

Plus, the first annual Run for the Mandarins will take off Nov. 18. This 5k event allows family and friends to run through the streets of Auburn. It starts at the fairgrounds.

Finally, the craft mandarin beer contest will showcase local craft breweries. The festival will have a panel of judges and crown the best mandarin beer. Don’t worry, the judges won’t be the only ones to enjoy the beer entries, festival attendees will also have a chance to try them.

Returning festival fun are pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids and three stages of entertainment for all attendees.

“One stage will offer cooking demonstrations with mandarin recipes, another is a kid’s stage that is being sponsored by the Farm Bureau,” Gilligan said. “The last stage is the community stage, which will include local dancers, the salvation army and other local groups.”