Heard It On the “Strawberry” Vine: 33rd Annual California Strawberry Festival Draws Record Crowds
By Raven West
Thousands of strawberry lovers descended on Oxnard for a weekend of fun, games and great entertainment, all for the cause to support local charities.
With every bite of eatable strawberry creations and sips of strawberry beer, strawberry daiquiris and strawberry wine consumed, Festival attendees also contributed to dozens of sponsoring charities who kept 100 percent of their sales to benefit their causes.
“This is our 10th year pouring strawberry wine and champagne in commemorative souvenir glasses,” said Gail Rocco, member of Soroptimist International of Oxnard. “The lines are really long this year. It’s really been fantastic!”
According to volunteer Shimaali Fernando-Gomez more than 75,000 ticket holders passed through the gates at this year’s two-day event. Over 500 volunteers cooked and poured non-stop, while vendors sold their items along a quarter-mile stretch of booths.
There was a great deal of walking and a great deal of eating along the way.
Linda Dullam, former California Strawberry Festival board member and co-owner of Mandalay Berry Farms in Oxnard took a few minutes in the V.I.P. tent to enjoy the Bar-B-Que from DJ’s catering.
Out in the general eating area an estimated 1.5 million strawberries were being served in every conceivable concoction imaginable. There were strawberry kabobs, strawberry nachos, strawberry pizza, strawberries with funnel cake, chocolate dipped, glazed and powdered.
The best use of strawberries by far was those that were blended into margaritas and daiquiris and served with one perfect fruit on the side of the glass!
Record Breaking Crowds: Press Release Update
A record breaking 66,129 patrons joined in the celebration of the 33rd Annual California Strawberry Festival last weekend, May 21, 22, at Strawberry Meadows of College Park in Oxnard. Under sunny skies, the two-day fete was in full swing with loads of berrilicious foods, live music, arts & crafts, contests, rides and attractions, cooking demonstrations, and more. Last year’s event drew 57,013 patrons.
An estimated 1.5 million strawberries were consumed over the two days. From wacky berry bonnets in the Berry Best Hat Contest, to towers of shortcake and whipped creme in the Build Your Own Strawberry Shortcake Contest, patrons participated with their “berry best” to add to the experience. The Food Network filmed an episode for their “Great Food Truck Race” on Saturday, kicking off festivities with a pre-event parade.
“Our California Strawberry Festival board works year-round to produce a Festival that brings people together and gives back to our southland non profit groups,” said Kim Gibas, 2016 Festival Chairperson. “It’s especially rewarding when thousands come out to enjoy their weekend with us because it helps us help others. We are also very grateful for the commitment of our sponsors who support our vision.” Over the past three decades more than $4.5 million has been generated to enhance lives and establish scholarships for future generations.
Ranked nationwide among the top outdoor Festivals, the California Strawberry Festival takes place the third weekend in May each year. Next year’s celebration will be May 20, 21, 2017.
Raven West is a free-lance writer and published author who has lived in Ventura County for more than twenty years. She has an extensive knowledge of local wineries from Thousand Oaks to Ojai and will be covering special events which take place at the tasting rooms throughout the year.