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October 1, 2008 > Olive Festival

Olive Festival

By Julie Grabowski

Olive trees and the making of olive oil might bring to mind beautiful and ancient Mediterranean isles with exotic names and landscapes, but Fremont has its own history with the age-old tree. Viewed worldwide as a symbol of peace and wisdom, olive trees have been flourishing on the property of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose since the late 1800s. The sisters pressed olives until the mid 1960s when there was no longer a need for large quantities of oil.

After a hiatus of over 30 years, the sisters decided to begin harvesting olives again in 2000, thinking that olive oil would be a good item to sell at their annual Christmas Boutique. The result was a surprisingly wild success, with every bottle sold. The idea to celebrate the fruit and its reemergence onto the community scene was not far behind; the Olive Festival made its first appearance a year later. Sponsored by the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce, the festival now marks its eighth year in the olive grove behind the Mission San Jose Museum.

This festival celebrates the versatility of the olive in all its forms, from the plain eatable version to oils and dips. Vendors from Livermore, Rocklin, Oregon House, Woodlake, and Uba City will converge, bringing their own special brand of olive oil. Three food demonstrations will be presented, with Trader Joe's among those offering recipes and tips for dishes a la olive.

Aside from olive inspired food, there will be hot dogs and tri-tip sandwiches grilled on oak charcoal, with a selection of beer, soda, and water. You can further tempt your taste buds by sampling the fare of local wineries and a selection of cheeses provided by Mission San Jose's own Cheese Taster Delicatessen.

But festival activities extend far beyond the gastronomic. Unique arts and crafts will be available for viewing and sale, as well as a children's center featuring face painting, balloons, and creative projects. Live music will enhance the atmosphere with rock and roll from "Canyon Band," the enchanting strains of "Celtic Group," plus a little jazz on the side. A special feature this year is a car show hosted by the Mission Trail Mustangs displaying 50 to 60 vintage cars. Attendees also have the chance to win raffles and prizes. "We try to target something for the whole family," says chamber member Bob Tavares, who co-chairs the event with Sheri McGinnis. The aim is also to promote the Mission San Jose business district and draw people to this part of the community.

Close to 3,000 people turned out for last year's festival and a greater number is anticipated this year due to the addition of the car show and the wide variety of activities. But Tavares says the day is as much about relaxing, bumping into neighbors, and having a good time as it is about olives. "It's more of a laid back atmosphere; a place to mingle and talk. " He also enjoys the discovery aspect of the festival: people learning about a part of Fremont that they didn't know was there before.

The Olive Festival promises delights and discoveries at every turn in a beautiful historic setting. And who couldn't use a little more time surrounded by peace and wisdom?

There is no cost to attend, and free parking is available at Ohlone College Parking Lot E.
For more information on the festival contact Bob Tavares at (510) 651-0600 or visit

8th Annual Olive Festival
Saturday, October 4
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Behind Mission San Jose Museum
Mission Tierra and Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 651-0600

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