Lettuce Entertain You? Yuma Celebrates Salad Days

Thousands are gathering in Yuma, Ariz. for a chance to walk through the largest salad bar in the Southwest. The occasion? The Eighth Annual Yuma Lettuce Days. Organizer Barbara Rochester talks greens with Debbie Elliott.

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DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host:

Some of you might remember this episode from the sitcom Seinfeld.

(Soundbite of sitcom "Seinfeld")

Mr. JASON ALEXANDER: (As George) Hey, you wanna get some lunch?

Mr. JERRY SEINFELD: (As Jerry) Just had a big bowl of Kicks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. ALEXANDER: Oh, well, that's very mature. What about you?

Unidentified Woman: Oh, please come, Elaine.

Ms. JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS: (As Elaine) No, no, but maybe you can bring me back something.

Mr. ALEXANDER: Sure, all right. What do you want?

Ms. LOUIS-DREYFUS: Um, hmm. I don't know. A big salad.

Mr. ALEXANDER: What big salad? I'm going to the coffee shop.

Ms. LOUIS-DREYFUS: Oh, they have big salads.

Mr. ALEXANDER: I've never seem a big salad.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. LOUIS-DREYFUS: They have big salads.

Mr. ALEXANDER: Is that what I ask for, the big salad?

Ms. LOUIS-DREYFUS: Forget it.

Mr. ALEXANDER: No, no, hey, I'll get it. What's in the big salad?

Mr. SEINFELD: Big lettuce, big carrots, tomatoes like volleyballs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ELLIOTT: Big salads are on the menu today in Yuma, Arizona, where thousands of people are gathering at the annual Lettuce Days Festival. Organizer Barbara Rochester says the city is saluting local produce with the longest salad bar of the Southwest.

Ms. BARBARA ROCHESTER (Organizer, Eighth Annual Yuma Lettuce Days): We have 20 different kinds of product on the line from broccoflower, cauliflower, celery. Everything you can imagine.

ELLIOTT: So how many pounds of salad would you say you have there today?

Ms. ROCHESTER: Oh, my goodness, probably around 5,000 pounds. My staff worked last night for 10 hours choppin' up everything, and it took us about four hours to set it up this morning. But also we built a house of lettuce.

ELLIOTT: A house of lettuce?

Ms. ROCHESTER: Uh huh. It's 10 by 10, and it has broccoflower and bell peppers, and it's just absolutely beautiful.

ELLIOTT: So tell me, just why does Yuma celebrate lettuce?

Ms. ROCHESTER: Because of the season. It's the weather, and as you know, we're the national lettuce capital of the world, and the beautiful product, you can just drive and see fields and hundreds and hundreds of fields of lettuce all over Yuma.

ELLIOTT: So tell me, how did you come up with this? Is this something you just dreamed up in the middle of the night one time?

Ms. ROCHESTER: Uh huh. No, we all sat down and said, well, what do we want to do this year? Two years ago we did the largest bowl of salads. We got a huge swimming pool and chopped up 7,000 pounds of lettuce.

ELLIOT: But why?

Ms. ROCHESTER: Just because nobody did it. It's just, it's something to have a good time at. And we have no idea what we're gonna do next year.

ELLIOTT: Barbara Rochester is the Special Events Director for the non-profit Crossroads Mission in Yuma, Arizona. Thanks for sharing with us.

Ms. ROCHESTER: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

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