How can Morro Bay have an Avocado & Margarita Festival on Sept. 12 and 13 when the outlook for a bountiful crop of California avocados appears devastated by drought?
Former California Avocado Commissioner Bill Coy said, “Three years ago, I knew we were heading into bad water years. I have five wells to water avocado and orange trees, but by August (2014) two of the wells were sucking air. I started moving water around. In October, I had to bring water in to keep the trees alive.”
The Cayucos grower stumped 7 acres and didn’t water for a year. He likened the drought damaged avocado trees to “caring for a droopy old dog you love. My daughter Julie (Zamora) and I saved them and here we are again — green and healthy. This is an off cyclical year and we have a bumper crop. Next year, everyone else will have a bumper crop.”
He explained growers are hurting, but avocado trees are hearty. He said he believes the California growers “have managed our fruit well.”
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Coy has been a key committee member with the Morro Bay festival since it began in 2007.
“I remember it well, because we couldn’t find local avocados because of the 2007 freeze. We had giant displays about how to revitalize a frozen orchard and how we were on the mend. We took a negative and turned it into a positive. We have avocados in 2015.”
Coy chides Mexico for flooding California with avocados while praising Shanley Farms for branding Morro Bay Avocados to easterners.
“They know our avocados better than we know them in California,” he said.
He credits a strong working committee and Central Coast growers like Righetti Ranch and Morro Creek Ranch for supporting the festival in good and lean years. He praises Frank Alegria of Calavo Growers for providing all the fruit for the Morro Bay cheerleaders’ guacamole booth and the festival grand prize, a year’s worth of avocados.
“We have improved each year with good ideas from Darin Reichwein, the Margarita Man, who brings ideas from other festivals. Jan DeLyser and her staff at the California Avocado Commission supported and attend every year.”
The event has become the largest fund raiser for the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Morro Bay High School Music Boosters, the Morro Bay High School Cheerleaders, and the Morro Bay Athletic Boosters and benefits Morro Bay Rotary Club.
Growth continues to be their biggest windfall and biggest challenge each year. The festival footprint will remain the same, but the committee will try limiting weekend tickets sold. Tickets will still be available at the gate. For tickets and musical schedule, check www.avomargfest.org.