Deep fried zucchini, zucchini smoothies, and a zucchini mascot, the 32nd annual Zucchini Festival represents a Hayward tradition.
The event, held August 16 and 17, is sponsored by the community based organization, South Hayward Lions Club, and hosts more than just zucchini. Over 150 booths and attractions were open to explore, learn and entertain all ages who attended. The festival, which was expected to host 20,000 guests is a staple summer attraction in the Hayward area.
“What began as a fun endeavor to bolster community spirit during a low-economic period has since turned into a huge annual event, which has raised and distributed over $2,500,000 to local charities and non-profit organizations,” Simran Moza in the Tri-City Voice, a local newspaper, writes.
The festival brings the community together in an unusual way. Each year a contest is held to see who can grow the heaviest, most bizarre shaped, or unusually colored zucchini—this year, the heaviest zucchini weighed a whopping 37 pounds.
While at The Pioneer newspaper, I was offered the opportunity to photograph the Zucchini Festival by one of the organizers. I quickly agreed--I love photographing festivals. The crowds are filled with big smiles, bright colors, and perfect candid shots. I have shot several festivals in the past, and was excited to be invited to both days.
Rick Stevens, formerly in Tower of Power, and his band Love Power graced the stage Saturday pulling small crowds towards the main stage. Frankie Moreno, a two time winner of Las Vegas’s Entertainer of the Year, performed on Sunday.
The festival is easily mapped out and is split into four, almost equal quadrants. There was a community service section, a food area, arts and crafts booths and tents, and kid’s games/attractions.
“Every year the festival comes up with new activities and foods related to zucchini. Try zuke fries, zucchini breads, cakes, cookies and more. Arts and crafts will highlight the work of fine Bay Area artisans. Among the crafts represented are beaded jewelry, hand-woven baskets, pottery, quilts, and handmade soaps,” explains the Zucchini Festival’s website.
All in all: a mix of famous and local musicians graced the stages, artisan foods of both the zucchini and regular variety, artist and specialty craft exhibits, travel agencies and several non-profit organizations were on display in the historic park pulling together for a good cause.