By Luke Phillips
The 63rd annual Holtville Carrot Festival kicked off this year with the Chamber of Commerce Banquet at the Imperial Valley Swiss Club and continues with tons of festivities throughout the following week.
The Chamber of Commerce banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with no-host cocktails. Dinner was served from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and a ceremonies will take place from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Carrot Festival royalty will be crowned, Holtville’s Citizen of the Year will be named, and Mayor Colleen Ludwig will give the State of the City address.
On Saturday the Holtville Athletic Club will be holding it’s annual Rib Cook-Off at Samaha Park beginning at 10 a.m. Vendors have bought 16,000 pounds of ribs and made 250 gallons of ice cream for the estimated 16,000 visitors who will be attending the cook-off. There will be cash prizes for the best ribs including a $1,000 grand prize for the Judge’s Choice Award. Entertainment at the cook-off will include music by Charly & Calico Ridge, BigJoyWow, and Tercer Elemento.
Also Saturday will be the Holtville Music Festival, an event that is new to the Carrot Festival lineup. The music festival will start at 2 p.m. at Hot Rods & Beer, 235 West Fifth Street. There will be live music and a beer garden outside until 9:30 p.m. when the music will be moved indoors.
Carrot Cooking Contests will take place Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the Holtville Civic Center. Monday will be the Little Chef, Junior Chef, Middle School, High School and Miscellaneous Divisions starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday will be the Adult Salad, Vegetable and Main Dish divisions at 6 p.m. Wednesday will be the Adult Bread, Dessert and Appetizer Divisions at 3 p.m. Thursday will be the Senior, Open, Energy Savings, and International Divisions at 6 p.m. and Friday will be the Sweepstakes Final Cook-off at 6 p.m.
The mid-way carnival will open at the corner of 6th Street and Pine on Thursday, Feb. 4 and will be open through Sunday, Feb. 7. Tickets are on sale at businesses throughout Holtville for $20 per book, or $20 per bracelet.
On Saturday, Feb. 6, festivities begin with the Carrot Festival Mile & 5K Races. Runners should meet in front of Parker’s Pharmacy at 7 a.m. Pre-registration for the race costs $15 and registration the day of the event costs $20. The top male and female runners in the 5K race will each receive a $100 grand prize, and the top runners in the mile race will receive $50.
Craft, food and other vendor booths will be set up in Holt Park from 9 a.m. until dusk and the Carrot Festival Parade will begin at 10 p.m. The parade will feature more than 100 entries including school children, bands, floats, antique cars and tractors, equestrians, the Holtville Citizen of the Year, and Carrot Festival royalty. Parade trophies will be presented at the gazebo in Holt Park at approximately 1 p.m. There will be entertainment at the gazebo from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Student artists will be showing their work at the Civic Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and an antique tractor and car show will be held at Hot Rods & Beer from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
The festival will wrap up Sunday with more booths, food and entertainment in the park and, at 11 a.m., the Holtville Rotary Club’s ‘No Bones About It’ barbeque in Holt Park. The barbecue will conclude around 2 p.m., just in time for the Super Bowl.