Lemon twist to mascot raceSALINAS, Calif. – The third annual produce mascot race for Fight Hunger Night at the California Rodeo Salinas came with a lemon twist.

Shortly before race time, mascots from 10 Salinas Valley grower-shippers were informed they’d have to balance lemons on wooden spoons from start to finish, turning a 100-meter sprint into a quagmire for mascots caught up in mishaps.

The falling lemons added some extra gravity to an event that raises funds for Salinas nonprofit Ag Against Hunger. Grower-shipper contributions are complemented by funds from the California Rodeo Salinas.

The total won’t be determined until sometime after the rodeo, but the race raised more than $25,000 for Ag Against Hunger the last two years.

First to the tape July 19 was Church Bros. LLC mascot Fresh Prince of Broc Air. Church Bros. logistics intern Junior Cortez was the winning stalk of broccoli.

Podium finishes also went to Captain T&A of Tanimura & Antle in second, and Dole Fresh Vegetables in third. A pineapple represented Dole.

Mascots racing also included Arti Artichoke of Ocean Mist Farms; Asian Chopped Salad from Taylor Farms; Chiquita Banana; Buster Broccoli from Pacific International Marketing; Bengi the Ram from Bengard Ranches; Tobo the Fox from The Nunes Co.; and Cindy Celery from Duda Farm Fresh Foods.

The annual event was inspired by the Milwaukee Brewers’ sausage races.