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Zest for mandarins draws thousands to Auburn

Annual event a tradition for some
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Editor
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Gold Country Fairgrounds was bustling with thousands at the annual Mountain Mandarin Festival, held this weekend in Auburn. The festival continues through Sunday and features local mandarin growers as well as a plethora of vendors selling a variety of wares. Joanne Neft, who founded the event 18 years ago, said she was "totally amazed" at the turnout Saturday. "This is outstanding," Neft said. "Who would've thought that this little event started in Newcastle 18 years ago that we would have these masses of people?" The event draws thousands from around the region, including three friends from the Sacramento area who say they come to the Mandarin Festival every year to do their Christmas shopping. "You can find just about anything you want at this festival," said Antelope reisdent Eileen Mathias. "It's so much fun. Mathias' friend and Orangevale resident Judith Dabai said she sends her finds from the festival to out-of-state relatives. "I have kids in Alabama and I send them oils and dried fruit," Dabai said. "Plus, it's fun to come to Auburn." Roseville resident Anna Davis said she enjoys teh atmostphre and typically good weather that accompany the festial. "The weather is usually good," Davis said. "And it's a very home-based, local produce event we want to support." Mandarin growers and their staff said they also enjoy the festival. Mary Lee Van Dalsam, who was helping sell Satsuma mandarins for Magnolia Hill Orchard in Newcastle, said she enjoys the people. "I love being around people and I love selling mandarins," Van Dalsam said. Reach Jenifer Gee at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com ---------- Mountain Mandarin Festival When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., Auburn Cost: $6 general admission ($4 for seniors; kids under 12 free). Parking is $5 (some street parking available). More information: www.mandarinfestival.com