Listen up, lavender lovers: The Lavender Festival is in full bloom


Strolling through a massive wave of purple, sisters MaucaBrina Willis and Sashia Ingram of Barstow sipped on violet-hued drinks. They breathed in the floral, slightly sweet, herbal scent of lavender that filled the air.

“She brought me here to calm me down,” Willis says on a recent late afternoon. “I’m the more rugged sister and she’s more peaceful. She’s into crystals, oils, plants and, of course, lavender.”

With the sisters treading softly between the purple bunches lining the ground in perfect geometric rows, it’s hard not to think of this purple place as what Jimi Hendrix and Taylor Swift each sang about in their respective songs.

After all, this is the Lavender Festival at 123 Farm in California’s Cherry Valley, which is 85 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The festival is open 5 to 10 p.m. every day except Tuesdays through July 23. Tickets can be purchased online from 123 Farm’s website and cost $17, with discounted rates for seniors and students. (Pro tip: Pet the giant, fluffy dogs that can be found lounging around the farm.)

A family ventures out into the lavender fields.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A bee flying close to a lavender flower.

A bee hovers closer to lavender flower.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

There’s plenty to do in addition to wandering the fields of lavender in search of the perfect spot for a TikTok. Visitors can take a tractor-pulled wagon tour around the property to admire more than 20 acres of lavender fields or they can browse the vendor village, a collection of boutique shops offering handmade products.

On Saturdays and Sundays, there’s also an indigenous garden tour where experts guide guests through the farm’s indigenous plants and history. (If you can’t make make it before the end of July, the farm has other events through the year, such as lavender nights, Christmas nights and sourdough bread and sheep shearing festivals.)

At this summertime festival, the food court, where live music is played each night, serves various lavender-infused dishes and drinks including a lavender chicken sandwich, lavender lemonade and lavender ice cream. The Lavender Bar on-site is known for its margaritas, mojitos and whiskey sours, which are, you guessed it, lavender-inspired.

Also, on the farm, there’s a bread hall that sells sourdough bread, rosé, lavender syrup and other organic products made on-site and a tea room next door that brews a selection of teas.

One of the main attractions of the festival is a lavender essential oil distillation demonstration, usually run by Tina Kummerle, president of Highland Springs Resort, which houses 123 Farm. She said that every morning farmworkers harvest more than 80 crates’ worth of lavender stems from the fields to load into a distiller, which then extracts the essential oils.

A woman drives people around in an open truck, a large dog on the seat next to her.

Tina Kummerle drives visitors around on the grounds of 123 Farm during the Lavender Festival.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Pressurized steam travels through the plant, a separator can separates the oils from the water using gravity, and the oil is eventually collected in glass bottles, she said during the demonstration. (The farm also distills peppermint, tea tree and rosemary oils.)

“For 100 gallons, we get maybe 12 ounces [of essential oil], so it’s very concentrated and will last up to 10 or 15 years,” Kummerle said.

That’s a good thing for those people who swear by the benefits of lavender.

A recent study found that lavender essential oil had promising efficacy in reducing anxiety levels, but lavender has been used as medicine since the first century.

Kummerle said lavender oil can be beneficial to some people, adding that it can be applied topically to the skin to help soothe rashes, burns and acne and treat inflammation from bruising and arthritis.

“When my kids have a fever, I put lavender on the bottoms of their feet as a replacement for over-the-counter things,” she said.

A sign reading

A sign cautions visitors against picking lavender.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Women and a young boy taking pictures in a lavender field as the sun sets in the distance.

Mateo Felix takes pictures of his mother, Rosa, as his aunts Noemi, right, and Mariana take selfies with the flowers.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

During golden hour at 123 Farm, Katelyn and Dave Tiftickjian embraced in the lavender field as a stranger offered to take their photo. Katelyn wore a vibrant, flowing, purple dress. Dave gently held Katelyn’s stomach.

“We came here because it’s great for maternity photos,” she said. “Plus the lavender has a very calming effect.”

People snuggle on a couch watching a person play the guitar outdoors.

Live music fills the air during the lavender festival.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Sprinkled around the festival are various types of lavender, succulents and other plants for sale, including echeveria, Peperomia argyreia ‘Watermelon,’ Empress Flair Peach verbena, Dieffenbachia ‘compacta and purple heart.

More than 100 varieties of lavender grow in the sample lavender garden, and the flower market on-site sells dried lavender bundles and lavender beauty and wellness products.

Riverside residents Savannah Horton and her boyfriend, Luis Medrano, browsed the outdoor plant shop at the farm. Medrano said he’s not as interested in lavender as Horton is, but they enjoyed the relaxed, people-friendly atmosphere of the festival.

A couple walking arm in arm through a lavender field.

A couple strides through the purple blooms.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A group of women gathered around a mirror, with beauty products and twinkling lights.

Visitors check out lavender products in the twilight hours of the festival.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“She even has a lavender tattoo!” he said, gesturing to Horton’s arm, which was indeed lavender-inked.

As the sun started to set, hundreds of trees and lavender bushes on the property illuminated with twinkle lights and lanterns. An auburn couch was positioned beneath a chandelier hung from the light-wrapped olive trees that surrounded the scene.

And there in the lavender haze, a woman set the self-timer on her phone, secured to a tripod, and quickly ran back to her partner who waited on the couch. They posed, kissing underneath the twinkling trees.



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