Carrot Festival: Crunch in Holtville

Orange, bite-tastic, nutritious; a January soiree fetes the famously long veges.

VEGE-FRESH FUN: Though we tend to think of foodstuffs around the holidays as being of the sweet, cakey sort, there are vegetables and fruits that make a very strong standing once winter begins. Brussels sprouts are spied in many a roast dish, as are potatoes, and green bean casserole couldn't be properly made without, well, green beans. But we'll stand behind a certain root vegetable that is commonly orange in hue as the most popular, gotta-incorporate-it piece of produce of the holiday season. Carrots show up in so many places, from main dishes to appetizers to the occasional dessert (thanks to their somewhat sugary characters). And are they often seen on a plate left out on Dec. 24, alongside Santa's cookies? Well, the reindeer do need something to nosh upon, after all that flying. We're in a carrot-cool frame of mind around the holidays, and after the holidays wrap, too, thanks to all of those new year's resolutions regarding healthier eating. This all means that the January start to the annual Holtville Carrot Festival, which has been around for nearly 70 years, is very well-timed to our seasonal, carrot-centered interests. Are you carrot cuh-razy? Did you end up eating all of the healthy treats left out for Santa's antlered crew? Then make for the El Centro-adjacent fest from...

FRIDAY, JAN. 29 THROUGH SUNDAY, FEB. 7: Yeah, this one's big, and there's daily stuff to do throughout the orange-amazing festivity. Look for a carnival and a cooking contest and a parade and an antique tractor show and a caboodle of homespun fun, all with a particular brightly colored, green-topped icon at its heart. Now that we ponder it, is there any edible that can cameo in savory dishes as well as sweets in the manner of the carrot? Well, yes, peanuts do a fine job here, so our favorite root vegetable is not alone. If you're feeling incredible healthy as the new year begins, and vegetable-oriented, and salad-obsessed, pencil in Yuma's annual lettuce celebration at the end of February. Could you, in fact, make a veritable green salad, of sorts, by traveling from festival to festival this late wintertime? Hang tight; tomatoes and garlic and artichokes get their festivals later in the year in Northern and Central California.

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