Jolene Goes to the Lavender Festival
If you know me, you know that lavender is my favorite color, scent, & debatably one of my all-time favorite flavors. As I type this blog, I am sitting on a lavender comforter against a lavender pillow... even my nails are lavender right now. So naturally, when I heard about the Lavender Festival in Cherry Valley, CA, I had to go.
I'd heard of this festival a few years back, probably after seeing some whimsically romantic photos on Pinterest or something of the sort. I believe I had searched to see if my home state of California possessed its own majestic lavender fields that I could visit. Well, I was in luck! Not only does 123 Farm boast some gorgeous lavender fields, but they also hold an annual Lavender Festival in June, when the flowers are in bloom. This year, the festival was held on two consecutive weekends in June, but I chose to go on the second Saturday.
The drive actually wasn't too bad. We left around 9AM on Saturday morning, anticipating about a 2-hour drive. Google maps pleasantly surprised me with a 1.5-hour commute with very little traffic and generally easy driving. Accompanied by my good friend Amy and some great tunes, we made it safely and easily to the farm.
By the time we arrived, the turnout was already impressive. The farm's small parking lot was full, but street parking was encouraged and we also had the option of parking at a local high school and taking a shuttle to the farm. Fortunately we didn't have to drive all the way to the high school - there was one spot at the end of the block that I snagged. The walk to the entrance of the farm was about 10 minutes from where we parked, but keep in mind it was already HOT!
PRO TIP: EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE PLENTY OF SHADED AREAS, BRING SUNBLOCK, DRESS COMFORTABLY, AVOID OPEN-TOED SHOES (THERE IS QUITE A LOT OF DUST AND DIRT), AND BRING A WATER BOTTLE.
Upon arriving to the ticket tent, we had our first peek of the lavender fields. After paying our humble $8 entrance fee, we joyfully wandered into the fields for unlimited photo ops. Between the low hum of the bees and the scent of fresh lavender carried on the warm summer breeze, I was in absolute heaven.
I had read on several reviews and blogs that the festival was small, "boring," and there "wasn't too much to do." Part of me was afraid we had driven almost 2 hours to be bored, but this wasn't the case at all. Not only were there artisan lavender products for sale, but there were cute shops, even more fields, and so many things to be eaten.
The festival was broken up into many sections, and we tried our best to do as much as possible, though we did miss out on a couple things due to the heat and not making reservations.
PRO TIP: MAKE RESERVATIONS FOR THE LAVENDER TEA AND WAGON TOURS AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR DAY.
There was a beautiful shopping area full of 123 Farm products (dubbed the "Organic Marketplace"), and a separate area for other vendors that were local to the area. Despite the local, small-town feel to the event, it was actually quite large, and I was impressed by its organization. After snacking and having a lavender-infused feast, something quite special caught our eye: create your own lavender crown or wand (also known as a sachet). There was a tent providing shade for some pretty crafty ladies - $10 to literally build your own crown. We absolutely had to make one!
All of the necessary supplies were available, and there were a few ladies who were teaching us how to craft our crowns. There were 3 tables covered in freshly-cut lavender, all for us to build our crowns with. Amy and I are both artists, so we were fully prepared to put some real effort into these crowns, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Of course we had to take even more photos when we had our crowns...
One of my favorite parts of the Festival was a small area of shops, each housing a different specialty. The shops were small, rustic and quaint, a single room with shabby chic decor and artisan items. We stopped into the European butter shop, offering samples of handmade butter, made "European style," giving it a cheese-like flavor. We tasted some handmade olive oil (the citrus was to DIE for), then got ice cream and some drinks. Please see my Lavender Festival food blog for full food/drink review.
Overall, I found the Lavender Festival to be the perfect rustic getaway - a refreshing break from the urban madness of LA County, balancing both the farm-to-table trend with localism to serve the community. There were families with children, young couples, and plenty of photographers taking advantage of the stunning lavender fields. The Festival provided many areas with shaded seating, where attendees could sit in a comfortable folding chair and sip on a cold lavender iced tea while listening to a live singer crooning Frank Sinatra classics.
I would recommend this to anyone who thoroughly enjoys lavender, appreciates small farms and organic products, love nature and can bear the heat. While it may not have been the most "exciting" or well known festival, I genuinely had a great time and took some wonderful products home with me. If you are in Southern California next June, please make the trip and attend the festival yourself!
Until next time,