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August 12, 2009 > Got Zucchini?

Got Zucchini?

By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By Stefanie Cullumber

The 27th annual Hayward Zucchini Festival is just around the corner. Two years younger than the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and a few years older than the Stockton Asparagus Festival, the Zucchini Festival has become an annual tradition for many. It is the largest Zucchini Festival in the United States!

The festival began as an effort by then-mayor Alex Giuliani in the early 1980's. His intent was to boost community morale during tough economic times and give local non-profit organizations an opportunity to raise much-needed funds. Rich Essi has been involved with the festival since its inception and served as general manager of the festival since 1993. He recalls the very first year when attendance was severely underestimated with over 7,000 attendees, and the vendors were out of food by noon!

The festival has grown through the years with an estimated attendance of over 20,000 for the 2-day event. Zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, even for the most garden-challenged. As Essi says, "Throw a couple of seeds down on the ground, kick some dirt over them, and in the matter of a few weeks, you'll have zucchini coming out your ears!"

While zucchini doesn't boast the nutritional value of other vegetables, it is a garden staple for many. The ease with which it grows gives one a sense of accomplishment and you can literally watch the fruit grow. A small zucchini left unpicked can turn into a baseball bat overnight!

Whether you like it grilled, fried, stuffed, breaded, or baked in bread, you'll find it at the festival. A cooking demonstration will be offered by local bar owner Roy Tamez. While he is not a formally trained chef, his prowess with zucchini is unmatched.

There will be a variety of zucchini growing competitions, with the fruit weighed and measured in nine different categories, including the heaviest, prettiest, and most unusual. This year, the "Cooking Competition" has been cancelled but the 2009 Hayward Zucchini Festival Cookbook will be available for purchase. This is the largest and most complete zucchini cookbook in circulation!

Displays and booths will include arts & craft vendors as well as information about local businesses, and informational organizations. A variety of entertainment is scheduled on the main stage throughout the weekend. A children's area is another popular point of interest for families including many kid-friendly activities.

Whether you're looking for new ways to prepare the zucchini piling up on your kitchen counter, or just want to enjoy the a fun, friendly community social gathering, the Hayward Zucchini Festival will have just what you're looking for!

Hayward Zucchini Festival
August 15 and 16
10 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Kennedy Park
19501 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
(510) 264-9466

Try this delicious island twist on a traditional zucchini bread recipe.

Hawaiian Zucchini Bread
By Alyson Whitaker

4 oz cup of applesauce, plus enough vegetable oil to equal 1/2 cup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan (or mini loaf pans or muffin tins).
2. In mixing bowl beat egg, applesauce/oil mixture and sugars. Stir in zucchini and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and macadamia nuts. Stir to moisten. Pour into prepared pan(s).
4. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (1 hour for large loaf pan, 30 minutes for mini-loaf pans, 15 - 20 minutes for muffins). Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn out on rack. Cool and wrap.
5. Because of moistness of bread, it will store longer and slice better if stored in the refrigerator. But in our house, it rarely lasts long enough to make it into the refrigerator!

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