By Malak Habbak
Ready-to-pick berries and vegetables, pony and camel rides, the Tractor & Car Show, an art competition, historical exhibits, a petting zoo, live music and food vendors.
That is what awaits the public on Saturday at the Cal Poly Pomona College of Agriculture’s 10th Strawberry Festival, Tractor & Car Show.
“We really have something for everyone,” said AGRIscapes Director Craig Walters. “So if you’ve never ridden a camel or you want to pick some strawberries and produce out of the field, this is definitely the place to come.”
The produce, much of which was grown on the university grounds, is the primary motivation for Azusa Honda, a third-year food and nutrition student.
“I want fresh strawberries, so I can pick it myself and then eat it at home,” said Honda.
But six years ago, before the strawberry festival component, the festival’s roots were displayed in the Tractor & Car Show. This year, the show will feature around 150 antique custom muscle and street rod cars and about 40 tractors that were restored by groups, such as The Western Antique Power Associates.
WAPA will bring a couple of its tractors to the festival, some of which will run the fields and others possibly will pull hay wagons for people to ride.
The event will take place at AGRIscapes, located next to the Farm Store, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with free admission. There will be a temporary parking field that will fit around 200 cars near The Farm Store and additional $4 parking for visitors at the university lots.
Classic rock and traditional American music will be played by The Swinging 8 Balls and Desert Croquet Band.
“We do some older styles,” said Steve Cahill, a member of the Desert Croquet Band trio. “We do a few odd things like the William Tell Overture on the banjo, which is a lot of fun.”
At the festival, the Children’s Garden will be open to the public for the first time after recent renovations. It will include interactive features, such as tunnels covered with plants, a worm culture exhibit and home gardening displays.
This year’s festival has also branched out to local historical societies and to CPP’s art department, largely due to the efforts of John Atwater and Michelle Pederson-Tomes, both CPP alumni.
Atwater, also current vice president of Upland Heritage, contacted local historical societies for the festival. Pederson-Tomes, who graduated CPP with a degree in art history, brought CPP art.
Some members of the Hurst Ranch, a 3-acre site with a farm and museum, will be dressed in period costumes and will bring brochures, pictures of old tractors and farm equipment for the public to see. Larry Walker, a board member of the Hurst Ranch Historical Foundation, will be showing kids how to make leatherwork.
There, attendees will get the chance to glimpse into an era where Pomona and its neighboring cities, then called Rancho Santa Fe, were awarded to the Palomares and Vehar families in a Spanish land grant.
“The area was very, very much a California rancho with agriculture and cattle racing and that type of thing,” said John L. Clifford, director of the Historical Society of the Pomona Valley.. “Unfortunately there’s not much agriculture left in the city.”
The city itself came into being in 1888 and was named Pomona, after the Roman goddess of fruits and vegetables. The city, named for its agricultural roots, was referenced in an “I Love Lucy” episode where Fred wanted to go to Pomona and open an orange grove. Pomona was a place of comfort to Secretary of State William Seward, who later retired to Pomona where he raised oranges. The city was also where W.K. Kellogg came and created his ranch of Arabian horses and later donated the property to state of California for the CPP campus.
“Southern California especially has a reputation for ‘everything’s got to be new, we don’t care about history.’ Well there are some of us that do,” said Clifford.
Clifford says history matters because it is who we are and where we come from.
Like the historical societies, it is also Sarah Jo Antonucci’s first year participating at the festival. Antonucci’s Stella Divina coasters are another way to get a glimpse of the past.
The coasters are made from old citrus crate labels at antique shops, which are then scanned, fixed up and sized down to fit on coasters. These crate labels show what towns and life used to be like and serve as a link to California’s past from over a century ago.
“Each citrus crate label tells a different story about California’s past,” wrote Antonucci in an email correspondence. “And I want to share these stories with people through my art.”
This past harkens back to the 1880s with the boom of the railroad, when farmers had to brand their farms and hired artists to draw different citrus labels to represent the family farms. The labels were placed on the side of the boxes carrying fruit so customers knew which farmer grew the fruit. On the labels, one can see a picture of monks making orange juice on the land that is now Chapman University or the wild and natural scenery of California at a time when it seemed there were more farms than people.
Under the art department, Rebecca Hamm and Deane Swick’s Design and Color Theory students had the chance to create and showcase their art, which will be judged at the festival with prizes for the top three finalists.
“I would love to attend to see their work in exhibition; it would be really fun, and I hope my whole class will be attending,” said Swick.
This experience, Swick said, serves a larger purpose.
“We want to teach [our students] how to participate in community events because they won’t always be students,” said Swick. “We want them to look at their community as a way to continue to use their visual communication skills for kind of a larger stage.”
Unlike Swick, whose class was given an option to either participate in the art competition or do another class project, Hamm had all her students participate.
“It’s so good for our guys to have exposure with their works presented in exhibition, [and to be] able to put it on their resumes [is] a wonderful benefit,” said Hamm.
Hamm said the collaboration has given the students “impetus to think of the application of their hard work and projects, so it was just brilliant” and “perfectly timed.”
The class’ aim for students to resolve compositional issues and color relationships was a challenge for Vanessa Patin_ÏÒo, a second-year graphic design student who is in Hamm’s Design and Color Theory class.
The project, Patin_ÏÒo said, started off as 10 thumbnail sketches to the top three and then narrowed down to one.
The project was challenging as it began around the second week of spring at a time when students were not all completely confident in their work.
“At first yes it was challenging,” said Patin_ÏÒo, who started with red, but did not like it, “went through a long process” and “a lot of exploration” and settled with aqua. Yet, Patieo said it was a great experience overall: she learned to make things look three-dimensional without blending or shading. Aside from proving to be a good educational experience, Patin_ÏÒo is excited for the expo where her work will be displayed beyond her classroom peers and to the general public.
“I think it is really cool to have your painting and having people see it. I’ve never done that, so it’s pretty exciting,” said Patin_ÏÒo, who will attend the festival for the first time this year and also is bringing her family.
Brittney Fleshman / The Poly Post
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