California poppies are a no-show in Lancaster, but festival goes on

A lack of rain over the winter means a lack of poppies for the California Poppy Festival on April 20 and 21.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

The California golden poppies aren’t popping right now at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster.

Southern Californians wait each year to see whether the state flower will turn the reserve and surrounding areas into fields of blinding orange.


“Debbie Downer warning ... we probably won’t really have a peak at all this year. Many of the plants that have managed to squeeze out a small poppy have desiccated mid-bloom,” says a post on the reserve’s Facebook page.

The reason for this year’s poor showing? Not enough rain over the winter, according to the reserve’s website. Plants that germinated during the late rains in March didn’t make it through the recent hot days. Those that did bloom dried out from big winds in the area. There were about 60 poppy flowers in the whole park as of last weekend.

Even so, the city of Lancaster is celebrating the beloved poppy with its annual festival. The California Poppy Festival with dancers, musical acts, animals, food booths and more blossoms on April 20 and 21 at Lancaster City Park, 43011 N. 10th St. West in Lancaster. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12. Contact: California Poppy Festival.

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