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Lemon is sweet for Chula Vista village Allison K. Sampite | Thu, Aug 12 2010 04:00 PM

Nearly 40,000 people attended this year's Lemon Festival, which took place along Third Avenue between E and G streets for eight hours on Sunday.

The largest street fair held in August was a free event that traditionally celebrates Chula Vista's heritage as the lemon capital of the world.

San Ysidro resident Beto Baleeras brought his 8-year-old son Joe to the festival for the first time.

"I heard about it (the festival) on TV and read it in the newspaper and I thought I'd stop by and check it out," he said. Joe scaled an artificial rock wall while Baleeras and his other son, 16-year-old Adolfo Marin, and nephew, 16-year-old Johnathan Padilla, watched and cheered him on.

Thirty-five-year-old Jamaican Reggae World owner Rose Record set up her retail booth for the seventh year in a row. Record moved from Jamaica in 1995 and has been in San Diego for the past 15 years. She said that the Lemon Festival has been a constant financial success for her.

"There is a culture base here that helps me establish repeat clientele," she said.

According to Greg Mattson, executive director for Third Avenue Village Association, participating restaurants reported doing exceptionally well, as did vendors. He also said the economy has not impacted festival goers, who spent about $1,000 more at local restaurants than last year.

"We noticed an increase in family attendance, which is great," he added.

Huntington Beach-based Barrett's Lemonade was one of several lemonade vendors at the festival. According to employee Patrick Miltoni, owner Bill Barrett has travelled to Chula Vista each year for the festival since the event began. Miltoni has participated for the company three years.

Gabriel Penix, 33, and Adelaide Marcus, 23, are a brother and sister stilt-walking duo who work out of central San Diego for Penix' business called Nomad Artz. The duo specializes in dance and music entertainment and also throw themed events. They have attended the festival for the second year in a row, entertaining the public with outlandish costumes.

"People here are really cool and friendly," Penix said of Chula Vistans. "We come to Chula Vista quite often."

The duo makes all of their own costumes and performs from stilts that are made of dry-wall and aluminum and can be up to 12 feet high.

Point Loma residents Danny and Carolyn Guerrero have been to the festival before. In fact, their mother was a vendor this year with her business The Hat Rack. This year the couple came mostly to enjoy the hot rods and entertainment, as well as let their 4-year-old daughter Lola get some air on the Vertical Reality machine.

Organizations MADD and Playhouse Preschool were two participants who fundraised more than $100 each in an hour-and-a-half by asking festival attendants to pay $1 to dunk them in the tank.

Chula Vista resident Mario Rodriguez won the lemon meringue pie-eating contest for the sixth consecutive year. It took him less than a minute to finish a pie.


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