March 31, 2016 by Joe Kukura

California’s finest olive artisans in competition

Calling all fans of green olives, black olives, olive oil, olive bread and other delicious olive delicacies—mark your calendars for the Kelseyville Olive Festival in Lake County, California, on Sunday, April 24. Held about 100 miles north of San Francisco in the little olive tree paradise of Kelseyville, this one-day festival doubles as a fundraiser for the Lake Family Resource Center.

The festival is a rain-or-shine event, because it takes place indoors at the Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill, with free tours of the mill available all day. It is 100 percent family-friendly, and parents will love that admission for kids is free. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, hula hoop contests, face painting and a poster contest with entries on display at the festival (deadline for submission is April 12).

But the real stars of this show are the olives of all varieties. You’ll find cured olives, fresh olives, oils and flavored vinegars, olive pesto dips and much more. There will also be olive products you’re not used to seeing, like olive soap, olive-themed jewelry and accessories, and even baby olive trees to take home and plant yourself. Authors of olive cookbooks will also be on hand with copies of their books and plenty of advice for other olive enthusiasts.

Kelseyville Olive Festival

Be sure to sample the multitude of world-class olive oils!

See the process by which olives are harvested at the Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill, which has an actual olive mill onsite. You’ll see how the olives are poured by the thousands into machines that systematically remove all the seeds and stems. The olives are washed clean and then go through the engineering marvel of a two-phase olive mill that hammer-crushes the olives and extracts the oil. It’s a must-see process for any olive oil lover, particularly fans of Chacewater’s award-winning Tuscan olive oil.

Speaking of awards, the all-day festival features awards and competitions in several categories. While there is the kids’ poster contest, the most sought-after prize is the People’s Choice Olive Oil Contest, with the winners chosen by the event-goers themselves. Attendees will get to sample the delicious olive oils from competitors looking to unseat five-time reigning champion The Villa Barone, with the winner being announced at the conclusion of the day’s festivities.

On a more whimsical note, an olive-pit spitting contest does indeed take place and is open to all festival attendees. Prizes are awarded in the categories of who can spit their olive pits the farthest, and who is able to spit their olive pits most accurately to hit targets.

Wine tastings from eight local wineries will also be available at the Kelseyville Olive Festival for $20, making for perfect pairing with all of the olive-oil tasting opportunities. Beer will also be on tap courtesy of the popular microbrew Lagunitas Brewing Company, with additional brands provided by Eagle Distributing and live musical entertainment provided by the a cappella Renaissance music vocalists My Divas.

Branch out your olive knowledge, understanding and appetite at the Kelseyville Olive Festival from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 at the Chacewater Winery & Olive Mill. It’s a chance for olive lovers to rub elbows and get to know the lovely Lake County area that produces so many delicious olives you use in your foods every day. With olive contests, samples and vendors galore, this olive festival is anything but the pits.