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Stockton Charities Will Feel Brunt Of Asparagus Festival’s Cancellation

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STOCKTON (CBS13) — The Asparagus Festival won’t make it to a 30th year as its board of directors announced the event that’s been a mainstay in Stockton is ending.

For many years, the huge crowds gathered in Stockton for the three-day festival that means thousands of dollars for local charities.

But now, those charities in the bankrupt city will have to redo their budgets as they won’t have the help they’ve received for the last 29 years.

It was just a few years ago that the festival drew more than 100,000 people to the city. Once the bills were paid, the rest of the money went to local charities.

“A lot of charities, hundreds really, over the years have had a tremendous benefit from getting donations from the festival,” said Mayor Anthony Silva.

Charities like the Stockton Emergency Food Bank relied on those checks every year, somtimes up to $6,000. That money bought food for families who had nowhere else to turn.

But last year, the funds dried up. In 2006, $402,000 went to charity. That number plummeted to $70,000 last year.

The final nail in the festival’s coffin was a strong storm that rolled through on the first day of the event. High winds and the threat of thunderstorms forced organizers to call off the first evening of the three-day event well before the sun went down.

This comes about six months after this year’s San Joaquin County Fair was canceled. An event put on by a concert promoter hopes to fill that void in the first week of July.

The festival can’t pay its bills now, and still owes the city $130,000.

The board hopes to give something to the more than 100 charities it normally help.

Silva says he was shocked the festival was shut down and hopes the board buckles down and gets creative with a comeback.

“Once they have cleaned up their books and start from ground zero they’ll probably going to figure out a way we can find some corporate dollars to go after,” he said.

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