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Local growers say they are excited to showcase their goods Oct. 11 at the second annual San Benito Olive Festival at Bolado Park.

Shelley Hartman, the business manager for Oils of Paicines, said she thought the inaugural event was excellent and she is looking forward to the upcoming weekend’s festivities.

“The organization was really well done,” she said. “They had a large group of volunteers and a good mix of people as far as customers go. It made us realize there really is a thirst for these kinds of specialty food events.”

The Olive Festival showcases local producers of olive oil including  Pietra Santa, Sons of Sicily and Brigantino and Sharobed Grove in addition to Oils of Paicines. But it is also a food festival where celebrity chefs perform demos, restaurants sell gourmet foods, local wines are highlighted and craft beers are on tap.

Kathina Szeto, a board member for the Olive Festival, and Whitney Pintello, the executive director, answered some questions via email on what visitors can expect this year.

“We learned that our community, including neighboring communities, really support events that promote culinary agriculture,” Szeto said. “During the event, we saw that our guests really enjoyed talking and mingling with our area artisans and became engaged in the how, what, when and why questions about their products and processes.”

This year the group has doubled the VIP tasting area and there will be an olive bar where visitors can learn about many varietals. The number of vendors and participants has also increased this year, with some olive oil makers joining from outside San Benito County such as Lucero Olive Oil, Moonshadow Grove and Tabia Farms. Olive-themed cartoons will be on display, dating back to 1959.

Oils of Paicines introduced their products to the 1,400 visitors who came to the first event last year. Festival planners are hoping to have at least 2,000 visitors this year.

Hartman said Oils of Paicines, which makes olive oil and gourmet mustards, have 1,300 organic Mission olive trees on 15 acres.

“We don’t use any pesticides,” Hartman said. “We use manure from our ranch animals. Our goal is to be completely sustainable.”

The business is certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers chapter in Santa Cruz so they don’t use any pesticides on their acreage. They even need to use an organic press and work with local Pietra Santa to press their olives into 100 percent extra virgin olive oil.

The biggest influence on annual yields is related to weather.

“Olive trees have a high tolerance to drought – not a high water crop so we do a lot of dry farming,” she said, adding that some olive tree pests can be the biggest challenge to yields.

Hartman described the Mission varietal grown on the ranch as having a rich, buttery taste as opposed to the green or spicy flavor of other types of olives. Oils of Paicines produces an average of 225 gallons of olive oil per year, though it can range as low as 200 gallons up to 425 gallons.

“We propagate our own trees so we hope to increase the number of trees we have here,” Hartman said.

The olive oil producers also have a line of bath and body products. They primarily sell all their products to wholesale markets and online. In addition to promoting their products on social media sites they now have a small farm stand on the site of the ranch.

Hartman said she hoped the Olive Festival would offer a chance to get the word out about the farm stand.

“A lot of people don’t know we exist because we are 20 miles south of town on the way to Pinnacles National Park,” she said.

Festival planners acknowledged the importance of participants and volunteers in making the event a success. The first year’s event operated 100 percent on volunteer efforts.

“We want to express our sincere gratitude to all our hard-working volunteers, generous sponsors and terrific partners,” they wrote in the email. “We continue to receive great advice from the Garlic Festival, Lights On Celebration and Kinship event organizers.”

Here are links to videos from local businesses participating in the Olive Festival:

B&R Farms

Brigantino Olive Oil

Marich Confectionery

Oils of Paicines

Paicines Ranch