Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival planned June 21-22

Tri-City HeraldJune 19, 2014 

Walla Walla Sweet Onions

Harvest is underway for the famous Walla Walla Sweet Onions and packing houses are buzzing with activity. There are about 20 producers including the third generation-owned Locati Farms who are celebrating the creation 15 years ago of a federal marketing order recognizing the Walla Walla area as a unique growing region where only sweet onions grown within Walla Walla can be legally marketed as Walla Walla Sweet Onions. Herald/Paul T. Erickson #19

HERALD/PAUL T. ERICKSON

Plant an acre of Walla Walla sweet onions in the ground in September and by the first week of June the next year, you could harvest about 32,500 pounds of those deliciously sweet onions, which are 95 percent water.

At least that's what the organizers for the annual Sweet Onion Festival state on their website. The festival runs June 21-22 between Second and First streets on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla.

The festival features all sorts of yummy ways to cook and eat the world's sweetest onion. There also will be onion bowling, and a street dance June 21 featuring Gary Winston & The Real Deal at 7 p.m. and The Randy Oxford Band at 9 p.m.

The festival hours are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 21 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 22. Admission is free. Music, dances and demonstrations are scheduled all day long. The fairgrounds are at 363 Orchard St.

The story of the Walla Walla sweet onion began in the late 1800s with a French soldier, Peter Pieri, and dates back a century, originating on the island of Corsica, off the west coast of Italy.

Pieri found a sweet onion seed and brought it to the Walla Walla valley when he emigrated to the U.S. after his discharge from the French army. He then teamed with Italian farmers in the Walla Walla area to plant the seeds, which were eventually cultivated into the sweet onions we know today.

Today's growers realize they're not just raising sweet onions, but cultivating a tradition. Walla Walla sweet onions are available from mid-June through late August.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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