2004 - Orange Blossom Festival in downtown Riverside (RXSQ)

Riverside’s 12th annual Orange Blossom Festival

This weekend, May 20-21, marks the staging of the 12th annual Orange Blossom Festival in downtown Riverside. Although the festival has acquired a few bumps and bruises recently, it remains one of the largest and most successful yearly community festivals within Inland Southern California, typically drawing crowds in excess of 250,000.

The OBF began in 1994 as homage to the city’s long-forgotten, but overly successful “Orange Day” festivals during the late 1800s and early 1900s, which celebrated and promoted the city’s thriving navel orange industry. The first few years of the reincarnated festival were quite successful, so much so the event soon outgrew its own britches and — as can be expected in such matters — eventually lost a bit of focus as it marched ahead from a small, city-sponsored festival toward a larger, (and hoped to become) self-supporting event. Fortunately, the governing committee has heard the suggestions (“more orange, less carnival”) and begun to bring the event back around to its original focus of celebrating the region’s historic “orange empire.”

However, we feel one particular change made 2 years ago that moved the festival from late April to late May needs to be reverted. The move was made immediately following an unseasonably rainy weekend that dampened festival attendance in 2004. Though the rain did affect attendance that weekend, the fact is, the festival had already been experiencing flat or declining attendance in recent years. The move to May last year proved less of a savior as attendance remained relatively flat, in part due to the warmer May temperatures. Moreover, the move has not exactly wiped out the possibility of rain, as this weekend’s forecast calls for rain on Sunday.

With that said, the festival remains a good time for all ages — not too mention good exposure for both downtown and Riverside in general.

May 24 Update: Orange Blossom Festival axed

The decision came after several city officials called for an immediate termination of its contract as the festival’s main sponsor after this weekend marked the second year that fights erupted at the event. Thirteen people were arrested this past weekend.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – May 24, 2006

(2024 Update: After initially vowing to create a refocused replacement OBF event, city officials quickly decided instead to focus their festival energy in making the then-growing Festival of Lights — that was increasingly receiving national accolades — the City’s premiere, signature event. As such, the Orange Blossom Festival has yet to return.)


  • Orange Blossom Festival Association
  • Riverside Press-Enterprise – City changes event’s focus (May 12) | Orange Blossom Festival axed (May 24) | Riverside rethinks signature event (Sept. 19)

Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20060512, PE-20060524, PE-20060919), Riverside Orange Blossom Festival Association

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added May 24 (2006) update; added 2024 update; added photos; removed outdated links to newspaper articles and festival website.

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