Pears in Kelseyville

Kelseyville is called the Pear Capitol of the world. I have done a vast amount of business in the pear industry in Kelseyville. Starting in 1965 I sold agricultural pesticides and fertilizer to pear growers that produced the prized Bartlett Pear. Kelseyville is part of the area called Big Valley, and ultimately part of Lake County. When I started selling agricultural products in Kelseyville in 1965 there were four pear packing sheds shipping thousands of boxes of pears annually. In Big Valley there were another four packing sheds. Most growers sold their pear through pear sheds.

Kelseyville is called the Pear Capitol of the world. I have done a vast amount of business in the pear industry in Kelseyville. Starting in 1965 I sold agricultural pesticides and fertilizer to pear growers that produced the prized Bartlett Pear. Kelseyville is part of the area called Big Valley, and ultimately part of Lake County. When I started selling agricultural products in Kelseyville in 1965 there were four pear packing sheds shipping thousands of boxes of pears annually. In Big Valley there were another four packing sheds. Most growers sold their pear through pear sheds.

The Kelseyville Pear Festival was started twenty-seven years ago. At that time, I had retired from selling agricultural products in Kelseyville. My interest in the festival was mainly due to the fact that the chairperson of the event was Marilyn Holdenried. Marilyn and her husband Myron had been friends for many years. Myron and I had been friends for seventy plus years through 4-H Club work. In addition, my brother-in-law was their best man when Myron and Marilyn were married some fifty plus years ago. They owned a new pear packing shed, as well as a winery. Marilyn had a great gift store called Holdenried Farms. Both have been very involved in many community organizations. They were the Camelot’s of Kelseyville. 

Twenty-six years slipped by. I continued to have a desire to attend the famed Kelseyville Pear Festival. This past year I made a promise to myself that we would attend. I checked Shirley’s calendar and everything was a go. The press was reporting that the Festival, held on the last day of September, would attract 10,000 people. Now the population of Kelseyville is only 3353. It has one main street that runs for a couple of blocks. My main concern was where in the world would I park. I called another old friend, Keith Pettersen, who is a local icon in Kelseyville, as well as a pear grower. His advice was to arrive before noon. He also graciously offered to save a parking space by parking his car early in the morning. 

When we got to Kelseyville, I would meet up with him, he would move his car, and his wife would take it home and I would have a parking place. Keith also instructed me on how to navigate through the town to find the parking spot. We got to the outskirts of Kelseyville around one in the afternoon. The press was correct. They were expecting 10,000 people. There were cars and people everywhere. We met Keith and parked our car. The parking spot was just one block from Main Street. Keith walked us to main street. We did not go far before we met someone that Keith and I had known years ago.

The pear gods prevailed; it was a perfect fall day. Pear harvest had ended early that year, so no real fresh pears were to be seen, but that didn’t matter. Everyone was if a festive mood. You could buy everything from a pear margarita to a pear burrito. Music was coming from almost every side street. On each end of main street was a gigantic pear on a pedestal. I’m not sure what it was made of, but it was about 6 feet high. Not one sheriff was in site nor was there a need for one. 

We met up with our friends Myron and Marilyn. We visited a bit as we walked slowly up one side of Main street. Marilyn needed to work at the Lake County Historical booth and Myron needed to meet a friend. We lost Keith somewhere talking to an old friend. Shirley and I continued to walked down the other side of main street. All of the local organizations were there, including my favorite, the Kelseyville FFA. 

Shirley and I reached the cross street leading to where our car was parked and we both agreed we had seen the Kelseyville Pear Festival to its fullest.

One Response to "Pears in Kelseyville"

  1. Phil Murphy   April 9, 2020 at 11:09 am

    this story is sheer insanity, the industry in Lake County has gone from 4,500 acres to less than 500, just in the last few months around 500 acres have been lost to to terrible returns on the 2019 crop, now even the the best growers are pulling out and they predict a complete collapse within 2-3 years. This guy is COMPLETELY out of touch and has no idea of what is currently happening in the biz, hundreds of acres of the best trees in the county are sitting in burn piles today, what will become of the pear festival when the last orchards are gone soon is the question he should be asking.

    Reply

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