Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lavender Festival in Cherry Valley 2018

     While looking for something fun to do this weekend, I came across a sponsored ad on Instagram for a lavender festival.  When I think of the word "festival", the thought of hoards of sweaty people and scorching sun always crosses my mind.  After seeing some cool pictures of people in lavender fields, I thought it was worth a shot to check it out.  This festival is organized by 123 Farm in Cherry Valley, CA.  It is an organic lavender farm that puts on this event once a year.  For those of you in SoCal that might be familiar, this farm is a short drive from the freeway, right before you get close to the Morongo Resort and Casino.  The Cabazon and Desert Hills Premium Outlets are also in the same vicinity if you really want to make a long day/weekend of it. 

     You can get tickets on Eventbrite, or pay at the entrance.  I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time if you want to avoid standing in line.  However, I did notice that there is an additional $2.50 fee if you buy online - still worth not having to wait in line, if you ask me! 😉

     Regular parking is either on the street or at a nearby high school with shuttles bringing people to the entrance.  Once you get to the entrance, you can be off to explore all things lavender.  Let me tell ya, there were a lot lavender-infused things at this festival!

     I'm always a sucker for some shopping, so the Organic Galleries was our first stop.  There are various shops selling gift items, lavender-infused items, and a little cafe and ice cream shop.

     I'm not gonna lie.  I normally can't stand the smell of lavender, except in essential oil form.  This lavender syrup changed my mind a little.  It was quite tasty, and I could see using it in iced tea or other edible things.  

     They have tons of things for people to taste.  It was like a lavender-themed trip to Costco! 😄

     The cafe had a little sitting area that was cute and peaceful.

     The lavender ice cream was the one thing I wanted to try, but didn't get a chance to.  I had picked myself up a lavender iced latte and just didn't have the room for it.  When we left, I overheard a lady raving about the elder flower ice cream.  I love elder flower, so now I'm curious about how it tastes!

     If you have kids, the Lavender Festival is very kid-friendly.  There are crafts, face painting, and even a puppet show for kids to enjoy.  

     Next stop - blueberry and lavender donuts!  These were pretty good.  They are old-fashioned cake donuts with a blueberry and lavender glaze.  I liked how it wasn't too sweet, but just sweet enough.  These also come in vanilla and lavender.

     We also made a stop to try the lavender cheese.

     I wanted to try this, but had reached my limit on how much lavender-infused food I could consume. 😋

     If you keep walking, you'll eventually run into the food court area.  They chose a really nice plot of land for this.  To the left is the food court, and to the right is a flower market.  There is plenty of  shade, and the tall trees lining the walkway almost make you feel like you're at a little resort in the woods.  I think Highland Springs Ranch & Inn is an actual operating inn.  They opened up the hotel rooms to the right of the food court so people could use the restrooms.  

     We found an empty table for lunch, and I decided to go with some wood fired pizza for lunch.

     The name of this food truck escapes me at the moment, but the bowls that people were walking by with looked very tasty.

     I went with the veggie pizza.  The pizzas are made using all organic and non-GMO ingredients.  It tasted like a healthy pizza.  You can interpret that however you'd like.  😉

      Not far from the food court are the lavender fields.  We were disappointed that the lavender hadn't bloomed yet.  I was expecting just a robust field of purple.  Instead, it was mostly green, with a few hints of purple.  However, you're in luck!  This year, they extended the festival for another weekend, and I remember someone telling us that they expect the bloom to happen by next weekend.

     We finished off our visit with some more tastings.  The building near the main entrance houses a lavender bar, an area used for demonstrations about bread, and tastings of fermented drinks and olive oil.

     Right before we left, I bought some wrapping paper and a pen from one of the shops.  I also snagged this flyer that highlights some upcoming festivals at Highland Springs Ranch.  I'm quite interested in the Sausage and Beer Festival and maybe the Sheep Shearing?  That sounds like an interesting photo op!

     I really enjoyed my time here.  We were able to get through everything (and eat) in about 3 hours.  Again, you're in luck, because this festival has been extended til next weekend!  It's a fun time with friends or with the family if you're looking for something to do next weekend.  Get your tickets here.

     Thanks for reading! 😊

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