Asparagus is among the most elegant of vegetables, whether it’s boiled, blanched, steamed, grilled, baked, sautéed or, yes, even deep-fried. In fact, deep-fried asparagus is one of the specialties of the , which will have its 19th annual event this weekend. San Joaquin County grows more asparagus than anywhere else in the nation, and the festival is always held the last full weekend of April, when the spears have attained peak flavor and tenderness. Stockton’s waterfront area will host more than 70 food vendors, three performing stages, a classic-car show and a wine-and-beer pavilion, plus crafts and merchandise. Kids can participate in a celebrity spear-throwing competition, and anyone can win $1,000 by being the festival’s fastest eater of deep-fried asparagus. Proceeds from the event go to dozens of local charities. Downtown Stockton, from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, www.asparagusfest.com.