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Randy Pench /

A selection of a few of the many melons is displayed at Maple Rock Gardens on Aug. 7 in Penryn, Calif., as it readies for its first Melon Mania harvest festival on Aug. 23.

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    Where: Maple Rock Gardens, 100 Clark Tunnel Road, Penryn.

    Directions: Take I-80 east towards Reno. Exit at Sierra College Boulevard, turn left. Travel 7 miles to Hwy. 193 (Lincoln Newcastle Highway); turn right. Travel 1.5 miles. Turn right again on Clark Tunnel Road.

    When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

    Admission: $10

    Details:,, (916) 652-2065

    Note: Advance tickets available at High Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis.

How many melons can you name?

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 - 11:47 am

Melon Mania is shaping up to be tons of fun and flavor with more than 40 varieties of melon ready to hit their peak of ripeness.

We got a sneak peak of Saturday’s salute to heirloom melons at Maple Rock Gardens in Penryn. The farm and gardens are about 45 minutes from downtown Sacramento.

We saw — and tasted — many melons during our preview with farmer Jakob Stevens, who planted and tends five acres of melons at Maple Rock Gardens.

The whole project was an experiment, said owner Scott Paris. Among many things, it showed that melons actually grow pretty well in Placer County —particularly some of the lesser known heirlooms.

This photo shows off a wheelbarrow full of these rare treats. Clockwise from top are: Ogen (showing green flesh), Tigger (one of three in this photo), Thai Golden Ball, Prescott Fond Blanc, another Tigger, sliced Thai Golden Ball (showing its bright green flesh), sliced Banana melon, Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon, one more Tigger, Casaba, Moon and Stars watermelon, whole Banana melon and an Orangeglo watermelon (center).

The Banana melon was spectacular; very tropical with a papaya-like flavor and consistency. The Ogen and Tigger smell as good as they look.

Discover for yourself Saturday during Melon Mania. Tickets are on sale now at High Hand Nursery in Loomis.

Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.

Read more articles by Debbie Arrington

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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