Event is Paso Robles Main Street Association’s largest fundraiser of the year 

PASO ROBLES — If you were in downtown Paso Robles on Saturday, May 11, you may have been drawn to City Park by the sweet smell of lavender and the crowd of people for the annual Olive and Lavender Festival. Presented by the Paso Robles Main Street Association, the festival is their largest fundraiser of the year. 

This year’s co-chairs of the festival, Jennifer Tallent and Gina Hambly, both heard great feedback from people who attended the festival on Saturday, including many who travel to Paso Robles every year for it. 

This is the third annual joint Olive and Lavender Festival but the festival celebrated over 20 years of bringing olive producers to the community and over 15 years of lavender. Each year at the festival, olive and lavender farmers and artisans showcase their handcrafted products such as olive oils, lavender, skincare products, culinary products, and more.

Per tradition, before the festival begins, it is blessed by Father Jason Faganahan. Joined by Paso Robles City Councilmember Chris Bausch, the two blessed olives in the bandstand to commence the festival. The tradition comes from the deep roots olive have in California. Over 200 years ago, Franciscan Padres brought the olive trees to California. 

The olive trees became a special part of daily life in the mission communities, not only for the olive meat but also for the oil. This oil was used for the sacraments in the church and for lighting, as well as many other uses in daily life. 

Hambly, who is a lavender farmer herself, told Paso Robles Press of the festival, “We added the Main Street Lounge this year — a spot in the center of the park where visitors could sit and enjoy some music, a glass of wine or a cocktail.”

Another addition was downtown businesses additional participation on festival day. Downtown merchants partnered with local olive and lavender growers to incorporate the ingredients into their menus and window displays or offer specials that day to support the festival. 

“My absolute favorite thing is getting to see so many friends, customers and new shoppers and take a minute to visit and enjoy their company,” said Hambly.

Co-owner and operator of the olive farm Groves on 41, Tallent shared her favorite part of the festival, “Every year, the communication with guests, the opportunity to educate, hearing the surprise and guests enjoy the fresh flavors of the EVOO’s and Flavored olive oils.”

Thoughout the festival, olive and lavender producers and makers were available not only with their products but with a wealth of information. There was olive oil ice cream available, distillery demonstrations, and olive and lavender tastings offered throughout. 

While a number of how much proceeds were raised at the event is still being calculated, the festival is imperative to the Main Street Association’s ability to provide the community’s favorite events. Proceeds are used to put on events like the Teddy Bear Tea, Santa Claus in the Park, Easter Bunny, and more. 

The co-chairs shared that these events create a sense of community that people love about Paso Robles. 

Featured Image: Jayme Finley (left) and her daughter Madelyn of Finley Family Nursery, made it out to the Olive and Lavender Festival on Saturday, May 11, at Paso Robles City Park . Photos by Rick Evans