Lodi Grape Festival 2022 returned this year to the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds from Sept. 15-18 with food, wine tasting, grape murals, live music, carnival and more.

What started out more than 80 years ago as a gathering to celebrate the grape harvest used to be held annually in downtown Lodi as a small food festival, according to the Lodi Grape Festival and National Wine Association Inc. The festival is now celebrated at the 20-acre fairgrounds every year over four days.

Cassie Rodriguez, a Lodi resident, has been attending the festival for five years and said she has been bringing her kids to the festival every single year.

“I love watching the kids enjoying themselves and having fun,” Rodriguez said, as she watched her 5-year-old son Mason Rodriguez fight the pirates on the “Pirate Ship” at the carnival. “That’s my favorite part about the festival.”

Inside the Ole Mettler Grape Pavilion were nine local wineries offering a variety of wine samples for only $15 per head on the closing day. Attendees would walk through the elaborate display of the festival’s history through donated dresses and jewelry of the festival’s Queens, old photographs, grape and community mural competition’s winning pieces and live music performance, before getting to the wine cellar.

The festival also had a number of food and drink stalls selling funnel cakes, hotdogs, nachos, beer and margaritas, among other things.

A highlight on the last day of the festival was a series of dance performances by a nonprofit group called Ballet Folklorico Janitzio, celebrating Mexican Independence Day. A young group of female dancers performed Jalisco as the audience cheered for them and chanted “Viva Mexico!”

“We are representing Mexico and Mexican culture,” said Vivan Resendiz, of Ballet Folklorico Janitzio. “It’s such an honor to be doing so, and it’s not easy, so I’m proud of the girls for putting their hard work and energy into the event.”

Harika Maddala is a photojournalist based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. They are a Report for America corps member and a CatchLight Local Fellow.