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JAUNTS : Head for the Guacamole at Carpinteria's Avocado Fest : The two-day event will feature the high-calorie crop in such foods as ice cream, pie, pizza, tacos, chow mein--even sushi.

September 30, 1993|JANE HULSE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Imagine peeling 2,000 avocados. Then picture dicing 700 garlic cloves, 2,650 chilies, 700 tomatoes, 330 onions, 40 pounds of cheese and 40 cups of cilantro.

Those are the ingredients in what has been billed as the "World's Biggest Vat of Guacamole." You can take a gander at this sea of green mush this weekend during the seventh annual California Avocado Festival in Carpinteria.

The two-day festival is a giant party in honor of the avocado, the eighth-leading crop in Santa Barbara County and No. 6 in Ventura County. These don't sound like mighty numbers, but our county's avocado crop was valued at about $29 million in the county agricultural commissioner's report last year.

So 2,000 avocados for a little guacamole won't clean us out. Carpinteria High School cheerleaders and football players will be making the concoction in a kiddie-style swimming pool, wielding paddles for the mixing. The recipe is expected to yield about 200 gallons of dip, or 12,000 servings.

"Guacamole Alley" will be a market of sorts for shoppers to buy ingredients for the dip and other avocado-based products, such as dog food and shampoo.

If guacamole gives you heartburn, you can sample some avocado ice cream or avocado pie. "It tastes like key lime pie--it's actually really good," festival organizer Debbie Murphy said. The real taste test will come Sunday when contestants gorge on the stuff in the avocado pie-eating contest.

The avocado will find its way into a number of other foods at the festival--pizza, tacos and chow mein. Tom Kotraba's Tokyo Sukiyaki restaurant in Oxnard will serve up avocado sushi at the festival.

However, there is only so much avocado a person can eat. (Remember, it's high in calories and fat.) A farmers market will feature fruits, vegetables and flowers. Festival-goers can also get a glimpse of the 26th annual Carpinteria Flower Show.

An arts and crafts section will offer handcrafted items such as clothing, leather work, bonsai plants, jewelry, fine art and toys--even avocado whistles.

Continuous musical entertainment is scheduled: everything from salsa and rhythm and blues bands to big band and rock 'n' roll sounds. A gospel choir will sing Sunday morning. For the kids, the Magical Moonshine Theater will perform with its puppets and masks both day.

Last year, about 100,000 people converged on Carpinteria for the festival, Murphy said. There is no admission to the event, but those who attend are urged to park at Carpinteria High School and take a shuttle bus ($1 per person and 50 cents for senior citizens and children) to the festival grounds downtown on Linden Avenue.

* WHERE AND WHEN

WHAT: California Avocado Festival.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Downtown Carpinteria on Linden Avenue. Park at Carpinteria High School and take the shuttle bus to festival site.

COST: Admission to the festival is free. Bus fare is $1 per person and 50 cents for children and senior citizens.

FYI: For information, call 684-0038 or 684-5479.

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