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(by) Donna McCrohan Rosenthal

April announces herself with festivals and fun, as you will see in this month’s round-up of short hops and trips around the Golden State.

 To the northwest in Stockton on the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, the biggest Asparagus Festival in the West celebrates its 38th year over the April 12-14 weekend. Dishes include pulled pork sandwiches with asparagus slaw, deep-fried asparagus, and asparagus ice cream (; 916-370-3647).

 Closer to the coast in Santa Rosa, reflect on Earth Day on Saturday, April 20 (though it actually falls on Monday, April 22)   at Safari West, where visitors experience interactive activities and live animals. A reservation grants full access to the lower grounds where cheetahs, lemurs, monkeys, and flamingos roam (; 800-616-2695). 

 Down below in LA, Saturday-Sunday, April 20-21, the L.A. Times Festival Books on the USC campus near Exposition Park will have writers ranging from established literary figures to emerging talents. Attendees engage in panels and discussions, facilitating exchanges among fellow book enthusiasts, authors, scholars, and thought leaders. Free general admission combines with ticketed programs for celebrities such as RuPaul talking about his new memoir “The House of Hidden Meanings” and humanitarian, restaurateur, and founder of World Central Kitchen Jose Andres ( or  

 Also in LA, the Ahmanson presents the ever-popular “Funny Girl,” Tuesday, April 2, to Sunday, April 28 (; 213-628-2772) while in Pasadena, the Playhouse Players launch their first after-school musical theater class for youngsters 2nd through 6th grade with “Finding Nemo KIDS” through Thursday, May 23. No previous abilities needed (; 626-356-7529).

 In Anaheim, the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival extends through Monday, April 22 with a lineup of California-centric food, beer and wine, celebrity chefs and Disney characters dressed in their best foodie attire (; 714-781-INFO).

 South of us in Hemet each spring, a cast of hundreds – actors and extras, Spanish dancers and musicians, horses, and cowboys – fill the immense Ramona Bowl amphitheater with “Ramona,” California’s Official Outdoor Play, and America’s longest continuously running drama. This year’s performances: Saturday-Sunday April 20-21, Saturday-Sunday April 27-28, Saturday-Sunday May 4-5 (; 951-658-3111).

 Farther south on Sunday, April 21, Fallbrook’s Annual Avocado Festival provides an opportunity to enjoy the Festival’s Farmers Market, Agricultural Area, Avocado Culinary Demonstrations, Guacamole Contest, Avocado Ice Cream, Holy Guaca-Moly, the Art of the Avocado Contest, the Avo 500 Children’s Car Race, and the Best Decorated Avocado Contest (; 760-728-5845). 

 Travel advisory: To the north along Hwy 395 outside Lone Pine, the 2023 storms took a toll and Whitney Portal Road suffered massive damage from flowing water and debris, causing closure from Tuttle Creek Road to Movie Road since August. On October 10, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors approved an offer from the Federal Highway Administration, Central Federal Lands (CFL) Highway Division, to deliver a project to repair the damage (; 760-873-2400).