WALNUT KING: Walnut Creek's eponymous nutmeat is practically synonymous with autumn. "Walnut brown" is a common hue for clothing and beer and bread and leaves and anything else that happens to get produced between the fall equinox and winter solstice. So it is right and good that the town's venerable Walnut Festival happen at the very season that its appearance and tone is most associated with. Yes, we eat walnuts in the spring -- what would a salad be without a light sprinkling of finely chopped bits atop the lettuce? -- but fall is the time when walnuts appear alongside nutcrackers on coffee tables around the country. In short, walnuts rule, but don't take our word for it; look to the Walnut Festival's charming mascot, a crown- and cape-wearing walnut. Want to visit his kingdom, which is better known as Walnut Creek? Make for the town from Thursday, Sept. 19. through Sunday, Sept. 22.
HAPPY 76TH, WALNUT FEST: We weren't just joshing when we called this party "venerable" before. This thing has stuck around, and with good reason: Walnuts became the area's go-to money-making crop during Prohibition when, yes, the growing of grapes was not exactly what was done. There had been a Grape Festival from way back in the early part of the century, but that transformed into the honoring of the nut, especially when vineyards gave way to nut groves during the era wine-making ground to a halt.
TODAY... the Walnut Festival is very much about family fun -- carnival rides and a car show and fair-type eating rule -- and the spotlighting of the fall-time treat. Call it a historic and hometown-y way to welcome autumn and the season of walnut breads and whole walnuts and walnutty holiday treats. And, yes, we did truck out the word "nutmeat" before, like we were all fancy, but isn't the walnut a rather posh nut?