Festival focuses on better not bigger

The Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival will continue today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Jeff Dunn (left) and Evan Korbuszewski (right) prepare blooming onions with Walla Walla Sweet Onions during the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival downtown Saturday. Onions are sliced carefully then dipped in a liquid and then coated with dry ingredients to create a batter before being deep fried.

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Surrounded by bags full of colossal and jumbo Walla Walla Sweet Onions, Mike Schmitt, of Old Timer Farms, watches Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival goers pass by on Main Street on Saturday. Schmitt said he brought 2,300 pounds of onions to sell at the event.

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Nevaeh Newman, 3, tosses a sweet onion toward a collapsible hoop, racking up the points during the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival on Saturday.

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Carrying a blooming onion that mirrors his blooming dreadlocks, Jordan VanDyke cannot hide his excitement as he brings the treat over the share with others at the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival Saturday.

WALLA WALLA - It's been four years since the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival moved downtown, and every one of those years has seen some type of reconfiguration as the coordinators for the 27-year-old event adapt to their still relatively new home.

"This is the fourth place our bandstand has been," event coordinator and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee Executive Director Kathy Fry-Trommald said.

"But I keep hearing people tell me how happy they are that we are here," Fry-Trommald said.

This year, the festival has been peeled down to a "more manageable" two blocks, instead of three, and the bandstand was moved to the corner of Main Street and Fifth Avenue, while the kids booth was moved to Main Street and Third Avenue.

"I think what we are trying to do now is stop where we are and make everything better," Fry-Trommald said.

Other than the new configuration, not much has changed.

People can still buy a deep-fried blooming onion, caramel-coated onion, numerous vendor dishes that include sweet onions or just buy onions from the Cavallis and other long-time family growers who helped develop the Walla Walla Sweet Onion to what it is today.

The festival is located on Main Street between Third and Five avenues. It runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Izzy the camel will make a guest appearance from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Food cooking demonstrations by chef Chantelle Martuscelli of Cugini Italian Import Market will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A beer and wine garden opens at noon. Various live music and other performances will be held throughout the day.

The even is free and open to the public.

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