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Stockton’s Long-Running Asparagus Festival Closing

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — After nearly three decades, Stockton’s Asparagus Festival will be coming to an end.

Festival Executive Director Kate Post told CBS13 on Tuesday that this year’s event, which was held at the end of April, was their last.

“As a result of several conversations and the many meetings held by Festival Board of Directors it has been determined, by unanimous action, that the time has come to say a farewell to an important and huge part of our community fabric and history,” Post said in a written statement.

Post cites “multiple circumstances and conditions” preventing the festival from being able to provide revenue to over 100 nonprofit organizations that depend on the festival for its reason for closing.

The annual event, which is held in Downtown Stockton, offered shopping, live music and almost every type of asparagus dish imaginable.

It started in 1986, and was designed to raise money for local nonprofit agencies, but attendance dropped off significantly in the last two years. Bad weather at this year’s event shuttered most of Friday’s events and contributed to a record-low attendance of 55,000 people. That’s half of its peak attendance from just a few years ago.

The city of Stockton requested more money from the festival for services, including police and cleanup crews for the event. Board members said they could no longer keep the commitment to both help charities and take care of expenses.

The festival’s end comes just months after this year’s San Joaquin County Fair was canceled in December, because of lagging attendance and costs of the event.

A separate festival called the San Joaquin County Family Fair, run by a concert promoted, will go on instead during the first week of July.

At the end of April, organizers were still planning on having the Asparagus Festival in 2015. They posted this message on the festival’s Facebook page:

“REPOST: Thank you to all the Aspara-fans for attending the 2014 #AsparagusFestival. We hope that you had as much as we did! We cannot wait to see you next year at the #30thAsparagusFestival!”

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