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DEEP-FRIED ASPARAGUS with parmesan cheese and asparagus ice cream were big attractions at the 37th annual San Joaquin Asparagus Festival.

There was a long line to enter the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton on the festival’s opening day, but it didn’t compare with the wrap-around line at Asparagus Alley, for its deep-fried asparagus and ice cream.

Renae Farrell, who was there Friday for the start of the three-day event, said each year she drives about an hour from Fairfield to attend the festival because of how much she loves the fried asparagus.

Volunteers with New Life Worship Center and Women United Nationally dress deep-fried asparagus with parmesan cheese during the Asparagus Festival at San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton on April 14, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Meloni Terrell of Lodi said it was her first time at the festival and she wasn’t sure what to think when she saw fried asparagus on the menu. Her opinion quickly changed after her first bite.

“It was salty, flavorful, hot and crispy,” said Terrell. “The batter was well seasoned, and they didn’t skimp on the cheese.”

Six pieces of fried asparagus went for $12. The green asparagus ice cream with visible pieces of asparagus mixed in and served in a cone was $4.

Besides asparagus related dishes, the festival included live music, carnival games, souvenirs, monster truck rides, and a free train that took visitors to see everything the festival had to offer.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco, Bay City News

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at