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California Corner : Festivals, Feasts & Fairs

SAN JOSE--Eat a sweet to support the arts. The fourth annual Chocolate Tasting Extravaganza is 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, 451 S. First St. Restaurateurs, chocolatiers, bakers and others are on hand with decadent delicacies at the fund-raiser for the institute. $15; $12, members. (Advance ticket purchase recommended.) The tasting is part of the ninth annual Valentine Invitational Exhibition and Silent Auction, culminating in a party Feb. 13. U.S. 101 north to Interstate 280 north, take the Seventh Street exit and go right; turn left on Williams Street, then right on First Street. (408) 283-8155.

INDIO--The 47th annual Riverside County Fair/ National Date Festival is Feb. 12-21 at the Desert Expo Centre, 46-350 Arabia St. “An Arabian Nights Fantasy” is the theme of this year’s fair, running 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily (carnival rides open to midnight). Daily features include date exhibits and products, camel and ostrich races, entertainment, a gem and mineral show, carnival rides and games, photography and fine-art exhibitions, a petting zoo, a floral show and a nightly costumed presentation of an ancient Baghdad marketplace. $5, general; $4, seniors 62 and up; $2, kids 5-11; free for kids under 5. The Arabian Nights Parade is 10 a.m. Feb. 15 in downtown Indio. Interstate 10 east to the Monroe exit and turn right; go straight, cross California 111 and turn left on Dr. Carreon Boulevard, then go straight to the parking areas. (619) 863-8236.

KERNVILLE--"How the West Was Fun” is the theme of the 38th annual Whiskey Flat Days festivities, Feb. 12-15 in downtown Kernville. During the gold-rush days of the 1880s, Kernville was called Whiskey Flat. Activities include daily historical tours, food and craft booths, stage productions of “Calamity Jane,” frog-jumping contests, a carnival, puppet shows, street dances the nights of Feb. 12 and 13, a parade at 11 a.m. Feb. 13, rodeos at 1 p.m. Feb. 13 and 14 and a pet parade on Feb. 15. Free. Interstate 5 north to California 99 to California 178 east; take the Lake Isabella exit, go left and head straight into Kernville. (619) 376-2629.

SAN LUIS OBISPO--An early celebration of Fat Tuesday (Feb. 23) is held Feb. 20 at the 15th annual Mardi Gras Festival, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Garden Street. Ethnic food booths, mask and costume workshops, musical entertainment, arts and crafts booths and a gumbo cook-off are featured. Free. A parade starts at 6:30 p.m. on Higuera Street, followed by a Masked Ball at 8 p.m. in the Veteran’s Memorial Building. Tickets are limited for the ball ($25). U.S. 101 north to the Marsh Street exit; go straight to Garden Street. (805) 541-2183.

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SAN DIEGO--Delicious creations from more than 45 San Diego restaurants are featured at the fourth annual “A Taste From the Heart” celebration, noon-4 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Marriott Hotel, Mission Valley, 8757 Rio San Diego Drive. Sample dishes that meet the American Heart Assn. guidelines of no more than 30% of total calories from fat. $35 tickets available in advance or at the door. Proceeds benefit cardiovascular research and educational programs. (619) 291-7454.


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