Pistachio Party celebrates all things pistachio


Miss California 2018 MacKenzie Freed poses with Mr. Pistachio in front of the American Pistachio Growers booth during the Pistachio Party in Old Town Clovis. APG was handing out pistachio pesto pasta and pistachio brittle and merengue samples to market goers. KELSEY LESTER-PERRY/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

Friday marked the eighth annual Pistachio Party, a nutty event that concludes the Old Town Clovis Farmers Market season.

Carole Lester, Executive Director of the Business Organization of Old Town (B.O.O.T.), said the organization hosts over 40 events per year. But this one in particular she holds near and dear as a way to bring the community together.

“A lot of the ag (agriculture) education gets sent elsewhere,” Lester mentioned. “You’ll find that the residents here don’t know a whole lot about what happens in their own backyard. Providing an education for these residents is one of the main reasons for the event.”

“We expect anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 valley residents to turn out for the event,” she continued. “Especially for the free food!”

The sponsors of the event, Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers (APG), partnered with the Institute of Technology culinary academy to hand out pistachio-inspired treats such as pistachio pesto pasta, pistachio brittle, pistachio meringue and of course the ever popular sample bags of straight-up pistachios.

Any vendor or retailer that is a member of B.O.O.T. can get a free bag of pistachios to use for a pistachio-themed item. For two years in a row, Two Cities Coffee Roasters has used it in a dark chocolate, espresso, cranberry and pistachio bark – a hit with the coffee crowd.

This year’s Pistachio Party featured Miss California 2018, MacKenzie Freed, 23, originally from Lodi.

Director of Membership Services and Communication for APG, Casey Lamonski, who was tasked with taking photos for fans in front of a backdrop that read, “First crunches, then crunching” said, “99 percent of American pistachios are grown in the valley from Bakersfield to Modesto. We are here to provide exposure to the community where the growers actually are.”

Miss California was soon overshadowed when a giant green figure approached the APG booth. It was Mr. Pistachio himself, and anywhere he is found, “We love the nut!” can be heard being chanted by excited market-goers.

“This is unlike any other farmers market I’ve been to,” Freed said. “It’s huge! There is something about a small community like this that brings everybody out and makes for a really great market!”

Besides loving farmers markets, Freed was in attendance because the APG is a sponsor of Miss California USA.

Regular market vendors like School of Rock, a music school that will soon open at 400 Clovis Ave., were represented by Turner Brisky, a guitar instructor and Jacob Lopez, owner Ted Lopez’ son.

The 20-year-old Brisky, who has been at every other market, said, “We have been here offering free (first) music lessons. We want to have a pretty good roster before opening.”

Fresno resident Stephanie Norgard listed the nice weather as one of the main reasons she and her husband made it out to Pistachio Party this year.

“We try to come four or five times a year, but this is the last one so we had to come! I got some good plums,” she said. “And my husband is in the museum – and that’s never open during the regular farmer’s market so that’s nice.”

Though a large portion in attendance at the final Friday market of the year travelled from Fresno or furter, Clovis resident Amie Koeper didn’t have to come far from her home behind Clovis High School to enjoy the festivities.

“I used to live on Pollasky and would come all the time,” she said. “Now, if I’m off on Friday, I always try to come to the farmers market.”

Kelsey Lester-Perry
Kelsey is an award-winning reporter from San Jose who recently moved to Clovis. Her previous work experiences includes the Spartan Daily, La Voz Weekly, and the Gilroy Patch.