The 27th Annual Asparagus Festival began its three day run Friday.

The festival expects to draw over 100,000 visitors and has become a shining light in a city that is fighting bankruptcy and a sordid image for violent crime.

The city's so-called Marshal Plan to fight crime includes recommendations to make the city more business friendly.  Businesses bring in tax revenue, which can be used for city services, like police. The festival is an example of how effective that can be.

The festival draws visitors from all over Northern California, as evidenced by tour buses that arrived from as far away as Redding shortly after it opened its gates Friday morning. 

"Hotel rooms are booked, the arena's sold-out, we have tour groups coming in, the restaurants are busy believe it or not. We'll write a million dollars in checks just our 51 supplier," said festival Executive Director Kate Post.

In addition, about $350,000 will go to 130 non-profit groups that provide the volunteers for the festival.  All of that money brings a big boost to the local economy.

Meanwhile, the city has scheduled community meetings throughout the month of May to get input from citizens, parents and neighborhood groups on how to reduce street crime.