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The 2023 Poppy Festival and the Rural Olympics

The City of Lancaster’s 30th California Poppy Festival is scheduled to take place this weekend from Friday, April 21st to Sunday, April 23rd at the AV Fair and Event Center!

Event attractions will include live music performances, arts and crafts vendors, delicious food and drink options, kid friendly activities such as petting zoos, and carnival rides. Featured events include motor sporting, monster trucks, and the Rural Olympics. This Rural Olympics has a long history of being conducted in the Antelope Valley at the Antelope Valley Fair (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Advertisement for AV Rural Olympics

This year’s Rural Olympics is scheduled to take place Saturday, April 22nd at 12pm and features potato races, tug-of-war, wheelbarrow races, hay-loading and more. Hay-loading was a common AV Fair event and highlights the city’s agricultural roots, specifically our growing of Alfalfa. This photo of a hay-loading contest at the fair was likely taken during the 1950s (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Photo of Hay-loading competition at AV Fair featured in Lancaster Celebrates a Century 1884- 1984 A Pictorial History of Lancaster, CA, photo originally provided to city by Frank Lane.

If you are interested in entering in the Rural Olympics and continuing the AV tradition, please register at the City of Lancaster website or at this link: Rural Olympics Entries Tickets | Lancaster, CA | California Poppy Festival™ (

For more information on the Poppy Festival and to purchase tickets, visit the City of Lancaster website: California Poppy Festival ™ | City of Lancaster ( MOAH and the Elyze Clifford Interpretive Center will have booths located in the Van Damm Pavilion. Please stop by to learn more about our newest exhibitions and programs. We hope to see you there!

Works Cited:

City of Lancaster and Centennial Committee, Image of Hay-loading competition originally provided by Frank Lane, 1983.


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