There was no shortage of hungry attendees feasting on the breaded bovine nuggets at the 35th annual Oakdale Testicle Festival at the FES Hall on Monday night, March 21. The event, sponsored by the Oakdale Rotary Club, has been an Oakdale staple, getting the city national attention since the 1980s when local Rotarians sought something unique as a fund-raising affair that would reflect the local western heritage of the area.
“It’s wild and crazy and a ‘lil nuts,’” Oakdale Rotary President Farrell Jackson said through a smirk.
The event sells out year after year as Rotary members slice, tenderize, batter, bread, and fry up 400 pounds of bull testicles, better known as Rocky Mountain oysters, attracting hungry diners from as far as Bakersfield and Reno.
Local business owner Ron Pippin of Nicro Inc. has been coming to the Testicle Festival for over 20 years and has had his business sponsor a table, inviting some of his most inquisitive clients, for almost as long.
“It keeps getting better every year,” Pippin said. “I tell them (clients) they taste just like chicken.”
One of the city’s well-known cowboys, Jerold Camarillo, also has been a long-time fan of the dinner and recalled in the mid-60s, when before the start of the Annual Oakdale Rodeo there would be a dinner held at the H-B for participating cowboys.
“I was rodeoing back then and a few days before the start, they’d hold a nut fry,” Camarillo said.
The event later moved to the Sportsman’s Club and later evolved into the now Oakdale Testicle Festival. Camarillo said initially the dinner was only for men but has since developed to where it is now open to all, with a raffle, auction, open bar and free-flowing red wine.
Camarillo also boasted that he’s the one that makes the salsa for the dinner.
“It’s not ‘gringo’ salsa,” Camarillo pointed out about the spiciness.
During the event welcome, Jackson introduced Bob Brunker Sr., with his wife Beverly, at a front table. Brunker Sr. is the only standing member of the Oakdale Rotary Club since its inception on June 2, 1955. Brunker has come to the Testicle Festival since Day 1.
The event is one of the biggest fund raisers for Oakdale Rotary which just last year made large monetary contributions to the Oakdale Play Park renovation. The club also donates to the Oakdale Library, Oakdale High School Music Program, Oakdale Educational Foundation, Distinguished Young Women, Community Sharing, Oakdale Youth Sports Association, and Rotary International’s Polio Plus Campaign.
This was the first year that the Oakdale Cowboy Museum wasn’t a participant after being a co-sponsor for 15 years.
In January the museum announced that after a series of meetings with its board and Rotary members they were dropping out.
“It was a great turnout,” Jackson said. “The community comes together and supports us like they always do.”